The Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) on Thursday, February 17, 2022, commenced its 36th Technical Commission (TC)/Plenary and its 24th Ministerial Committee (GMC) meeting at the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel, Accra, Ghana.
The GIABA Plenary is an assembly of experts, including representatives of Member States (MS), development partners, and observers in the fight against money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing (TF), who meet twice yearly to share their experiences with respect to the challenges they face in implementing effective Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter Financing of Terrorism (CFT) measures.
Plenary meetings are GIABA Statutory meetings, thus an integral part of efforts to ensure MS’ compliance with AML/CFT standards and to foster regional peace, security, prosperity, and integration in the ECOWAS region.
Giving an address at the opening ceremony of the 36th meeting of GIABA Technical/Plenary Commission, Director General Justice Kimelabalou ABA called on member states within the ECOWAS region to double collaborative efforts to combat terrorism.
“The occurrence of terrorist acts and transnational organized crimes in our space is tangible proof that AML/CFT systems are ineffective and fail to prevent criminals from carrying out their illicit activities which bring them huge profits that they launder and/or make available to terrorist individuals or organizations.
“It is important to redouble efforts so that the recommendations formulated in the MERs in the light of the deficiencies identified are fully implemented in order to strengthen the AML/CFT systems and enable operational actors to be more effective in their assignments,” Justice Kimelabalou ABA told the gathering of experts drawn from the various ECOWAS member states.
The Chairman of the GIABA Technical Commission said in the midst of the tension in the sub-regional marked by the resurgence of political crises, all representatives of member states must bring expertise on board to find lasting solutions.
On his part, Ghana’s Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta while delivering an address to declare the session opened bemoaned how terrorism and money laundering continue to pose a threat to the progress of states under ECOWAS.
He said the phenomenon is underpinned by several factors, including the presence of large, informal, cash-based economies, weak and porous borders, political instability, ethnic and communal violence, corruption, poverty, and unemployment.
The Finance Minister for Ghana emphasised that the time is now for a collaborative effort to combat money laundering and terrorism funding.
“Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (ML/TF&P) continue to pose enormous risks to the global financial systems, peace, and socio-economic development. With the West African Sub-region not being left off the hook, currently being a major region of concern regarding terrorist financing and its activities, you will all agree with me that there is the need to strengthen collaboration among member States in order to curb this menace with all its associated predicate offences,” Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta shared.
He continued, “We must arise and provide innovative and collective preventive measures which adapt to the growing risks, build resilience, and ultimately prevents the next security and humanitarian disaster. Furthermore, we must put in every effort to identify sources of funds for terrorist groups, freeze them, and use every legal means to ensure they never get access to the funds again.
“Fellow participants, I believe there is no better time to act than now.”
A key feature about this week’s meetings is the fact that there will be the consideration and approval of the follow-up reports of the mutual evaluation (ME) of member States’ level of compliance with the FATF 40 Recommendations on AML/CFT.
In addition, the 2nd Round of Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) of Guinea Bissau is to be considered at the Plenary while an update will be received on the ME of the Republic of Comoros.
For this session, participants are working on, among other subjects, the following documents:
the Summary Activity Report of the Chief Executive Officer;
the Report of the Co-Chairs of the GEC;
the 2nd Round Mutual Evaluation Report of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau;
the Report of the Co-Chairs of the RTMG;
the update on the mutual evaluations of Comoros, Guinea and Sao Tome and Principe;
the progress report on the implementation of the Action Plan for Improving the Efficiency of GIABA;
the Report of the 36th Meeting of the Technical Commission of GIABA.
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