The fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism was the focus of a five-day training workshop which kicked off, today, at the Customs House of the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) in Mer Rouge.
The Director General of the MRA, Mr Sudhamo Lal, the Ambassador of France to Mauritius, Mr Emmanuel Cohet, and other eminent personalities were present. The resource persons for the training are from the French Customs, namely Mr Thierry Atchamah-Sourama, Mr Thomas Fevre and Mr Erwan Chauveau.
In his keynote address, Mr Lal highlighted that money laundering is not a stand-alone crime but is intertwined with other types of predicate offences and criminal activities such as drugs, arms and human trafficking, bribery, extortion, counterfeiting and trade of stolen vehicles. He emphasised that money laundering, terrorism financing and illicit financial flows cause great harm to the integrity and stability of the financial sector and highly impacts on the socio-economic development of a country.
On this score, Mr Lal underlined that customs administrations are called upon to play a crucial role in the fight against money laundering adding that this important task cannot be successfully fulfilled without the assistance of other law enforcement agencies, financial institutions and financial regulatory bodies. He also seized the opportunity to highlight the close collaboration and cooperation between the French Customs and the MRA.
With regard to the role of the MRA to stop illicit capital flows at the border, the Director General of the MRA stated that the Customs Department has come up with various reforms and adopted modern control techniques which are in line with international standards and best practices of the World Customs Organisation (WCO).
These comprise: capacity building programmes on Customs Operational Practices for Enforcement and Seizures; MRA to reinforce its Anti Money Laundering team at the SSR International Airport; and training of eight MRA K9 sniffer dogs for detection of US dollars, Euros and South African Rands to assist for the physical cross border transportation of cash in luggage, cargo freights and courier packets.
Since the implementation of this strategy, Mr Lal said, two cases of bulk physical cross-border transportation of currency in luggage were detected by these dogs and added that by 2021, the number of MRA sniffer dogs will be increased to 24.
For his part, Ambassador Cohet stressed on the importance of regional cooperation in the fight against money laundering and financing terrorism. This partnership between Mauritius and Reunion Island is vital for both countries to exchange ideas and views on this thematic concern. He spoke of France's dedication to provide continued support to Mauritius in combating these scourges.