The Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) in collaboration with Intertionale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) has organised a three-day Financial Intelligence Analysis Course for Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs).
The course is aimed at strengthening the capacity of qualitative operational and strategic products that will facilitate the detection of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing related cases. It will also help to establish policies and goals for the FIUs and other entities within the AML/CFT Regime among others for only five GIABA member states.
The course which started on Monday, 22nd Febuary, 2021 to 24th Febuary in The Gambia, was held at Kairaba Beach Hotel. Dr. Buno Nduka, Director of Evaluation and Compliance for The Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa(GIABA), said GIZ and GIABA have been working collaboratively to support the implementation of AML/CFT in member States.
He said this includes strengthening the capacity of member FIUs to effectively support national and global efforts against ML, TF, and other forms of transnational organized crimes.
Nduka expressed his profound gratitude to the GIZ authorities for providing experts and other support for this programme. He added that the initiative marks another milestone in the mutually beneficial relationship between GIABA and the GIZ.
He remarked: "The depth and quality of such analyses are key for an FIU to fully maximize the information at its disposal and effectively fulfil its primary mandate, including identifying money laundering and terrorist financing related trends and patterns, and providing inputs for AML/CFT Policy formulation and the setting of operational priorities."
Nduka said their experience in the region shows that their upcoming FIUs, particularly the FIUs of Guinea, Guinea Bissau, The Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone lack the requisite capacity to effectively conduct operational and Strategic analysis.
He said this weakness undermines the abilities of FIUs' members to effectively meet their domestic and international commitments, as well as, requirements of international best practices for FIUs.
To address the identified capacity gaps in Operational and Strategic analysis in the region, he revealed that GIABA supported officials of some FIUs' members to undertake study tours of more advance FIUs and engaged services of the regional champions (FIUs of Nigeria and Senegal) to mentor upcoming member FIUs.
"To achieve the objectives of this programme, we have assembled well experienced professionals to deliver this event. I am confident that the contributions of these experts and interventions of the participants will enrich the quality of deliberations. The topics have also been carefully put together to cover the broad spectrum of the issues to be discussed," he encouraged.
Alagie Darboe, Director General for Financial Intelligence Unit who also doubles as GIABA National Correspondent for The Gambia, said Covid-19 has caused a significant and impactful global health crisis. He said it has rapidly transformed into an economic and social crisis with consequences of great relevance to AML/CFT stakeholders.
He said: "Criminal elements have seized upon this crisis to perpetrate financial crimes. Cases of counterfeit Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and bogus COVID-19 medication being sold, online fraud, and increased illicit transactions on the dark web have been reported."
Darboe said the rise in illicit financial activity should therefore spur them to redouble their efforts to combat financial crime and preserve the integrity of their financial systems.
He said Financial Intelligence Units play a critical role in the fight against money laundering and financing terrorism and proliferation.
"The Gambia's Anti-Money Laundering and Combating of Terrorist Financing Act, 2012 empowers the FIU to receive, analyse and disseminate intelligence related to financial crimes to competent authorities. In addition to adopting the administrative model of an FIU, the FIU of The Gambia operates independently but works very closely with the competent authorities," he said.
He revealed that the FIU received a total of 47 Suspicious Transaction reports, of which 42 were domestic information requests and 1 international information request in the year 2020.
He revealed that in the same year, 6 international information requests were sent. Of which the Suspicious Transaction Reports received, fraud emerged as the most-reported predicate offence of ML, accounting for 66% (sixty-six percent) of the STRs filed.