A five-day GIABA pre-assessment workshop for Liberia to prevent and fight money laundering in West Africa kicked off here Monday, August 2, 2021, at the Monrovia City Hall in Monrovia with participants from various government ministries and agencies, including civil society organizations in attendance.
The Director-General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) challenges participants to seek relevant knowledge to combat money laundering in Liberia.
Mr. Kimelabalou Ana notes that Liberia has made some gains against money laundering and terrorism financing, but there is still room for greater improvement to curtail the crime.
He calls for necessary legislations to be put in place to enhance effective fight against money laundering.
Mr. Ana laments that the lack of adequate resources to strengthen the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) undermines the fight against financing terrorism and money laundering.
He explains the pre-assessment training workshop will go a long way to build the capacity of institutions responsible for the terrorism financing and money laundering fight.
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister for Economic Management at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) Augustine Flomo says, Liberia has put measures in place to strengthen the fight against illicit financing and money laundering.
Minister Flomo assures the government remains committed to combating money laundering with legal instruments that meet both national and international standards.
He details there are bills before the 54th Liberian Legislature that are expected to be passed into law soon.
For his part, the Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit and GIABA National Correspondent for Liberia, Edwin Harris notes the fight against terrorism financing and money laundering has been a challenge over the years.
However, he says the Government of Liberia has sent relevant bills to the Legislature to amend some legal instruments for enhancement of effective fight legally against money laundering.
Mr. Harris indicates the government, through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has allotted a certain amount of money to enhance the working of the FIU in ensuring that money laundering and terrorism financing are curtailed.
He urges the participants to take the training seriously to improve their capacities in the areas of money laundering and terrorism financing in Liberia.
Liberia is among West African countries that have been targeted by the South American drug cartels as a transit point to Europe and the US as evidenced by recent seizures.
Another major challenge that the country faces is the level of cash transaction in a dual currency economy (both the US dollar and the local currency are used interchangeably). The financial system is rudimentary with weak payment system infrastructure, including regulatory and supervisory challenges while the country's non-financial businesses sector remains unregulated amid limited state apparatuses to combat crime with very porous borders.