12 May 2017

Liberia Begs for Elevated Status

The 27th plenary meeting of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) has begun in Monrovia.

At the opening of the session Thursday, the Liberian Government appealed for elevated status.

Justice Minister Cllr. Frederick D. Cherue said Liberia has made tremendous efforts in putting in place mechanisms to fight money laundering and terrorist financing.

He recalled that GIABA conducted a mutual evaluation of Liberia's Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CET) system IN 2010, which recognized significant deficiencies in Liberia AML/CET regime.

In response to this evaluation, Cherue said Liberia undertook a number of measures aimed at addressing the identified deficiencies including developing a National Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of terrorism strategy in 2012, enacting seven pieces of AML/CET law in 2013and signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the exchange of information with Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and other countries within the ECOWAS region.

These, he said were the government initial steps towards developing a robust AML/CET regime to combat money laundering and other financial crimes in Liberia and the sub-region.

Not with standing, he said during GIABA plenary meeting in Ivory Coast in 2015, the Secretariat determined that Liberia did not criminalize certain predicate offences, which include illicit trafficking in stolen and other goods, illicit arms trafficking, counterfeiting and piracy of products, among others.

Cllr. Cherue said GIABA recommended again that Liberia put in place the various measures to address the deficiencies so as to strengthen its FIU regime to conform to international standards, which he said Liberia did.

Minister Cherue said in compliance to GIABA's request, the Liberian Government passed important pieces of legislations to specifically address the concerns.

For his part, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, who served as keynote speaker, told delegates that "when it comes to issues that undermine our democracy and security, we have to be honest, transparent and firm in the stand we take. You will focus on sharing notes on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism measures. And by doing so, you will be countering attempts at disrupting our economy and undermining our national security."

He said "as these criminals try to improve their dangerous techniques, we should move swiftly to evolve measures that will put us far ahead of them."

Earlier, GIABA Director General M. Adama Coulibaly highlighted efforts made by Liberia including adoption of manyrelevant legislations as well as the ratification of international conventions to strengthen the national AMLCET regime, allocation of office to FIU and the allocation of additional resources for its operations.

He lauded Liberia for the progress made thus far; however, he said the issue that has to do with elevating Liberia's status rest with the technical working group which will determine whether it has satisfied all requirements for elevation.

Delegates from GIABA member states and other countries in Africa and beyond are attending the meeting.

Liberia

Weah Storms Buchanan

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