By Henry T. Kargbo
Inter-governmental action group against money laundering in West Africa (GIABA) has on Tuesday 9th February, 2021, held a national sensitization seminar on anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) for religious leaders and institution at Radisson Blu Hotel in Freetown.
Delivering his statement at the seminar, the Director General of GIABA, Judge Kimelabalous Aba said the inter-governmental action group against money laundering in West Africa GIABA has indeed entire Economic Community of West Africa State (ECOWAS).
He described the seminar as a very important one step towards actualizing sub-regional authorities’ collective actions.
He said that his institution undertakes the role to ensure that member states comply with acceptable international standards on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism.
He added that as an FSRB, GIABA conducts mutual evaluation, a peer review mechanism for assessing the level of technical compliance and effectiveness of member states.
Aba furthered that GIABA also carries out valuable researches and typological exercises to identify the various money laundering and terrorist financing trends as well as methods employs in order to strengthen preventive and enforcements drives.
The DG said in September 2001, GIABA attend the annual convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Organization in Nigeria, where they sensitized youths on money laundering and terrorist financing, adding that they also took part in a security conference for church leaders in May 2013.
He said increase in illicit income generating crimes known as predicted offences of money laundering such as bribery and corruption, kidnapping for ransoms on human and drug trafficking in parts of the world are worrisome.
“It is therefore important to engage and utilize the tremendous influences of religious leaders in addressing some of the ills ravaging our societies,” he said.
Deputy Minister of Finance I Dr. Patricia N. Lavarley noted that the event is historical because this is the first time ECOWAS members states are coming together as nations on an inter-faith platform to discuss the way forward in putting in place modalities for the effective implementation of measure aimed at combating money laundering and terrorism financing.
She said money laundering and terrorism financing are serious threat to nations, international peace and stability which must therefore be addressed in a holistic way.
She added that at the 34th GIABA technical commission and plenary meeting held in December 2020, considered list of priorities and substantive issues as contained in the mutual evaluation report Sierra Leone as a country had taken steps to enhance it’s legal and institutional framework, and to a moderate extent, understands it’s ML/TF risks.
Dr Larvaley said the Bio government is committed to supporting every endeavour aimed at protecting the integrity, credibility and viability of the country’s financial system.
The Minister of Social Welfare Hon. Baindu Dassama- Kamara urged religious leaders and institutions to implement anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism measures.