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Think out of the box, ECOWAS tells the Judiciary

The ECOWAS Commission on Friday called on the Judiciary of member-states to be more responsive in the adjudication of cases of money laundering and terrorism financing in West Africa.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Brou, made the call in Dakar at the ECOWAS Stakeholders’ Forum on The Implementation of Robust AML/CFT Measures by GIABA member-states.

“The rate of conviction of money laundering, terrorism financing and terrorist financing cases is abysmally low, compared to the cases at hand.

“The judiciary can do better, and I wish to urge them to do more by thinking out of the box by also remaining within the box due process, in line with the fundamental principles of their countries’ laws.

“We need to be effective in enforcing our criminal Justice laws otherwise criminals will take it for granted that crime pays,’’ he said.

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Represented by Dr. Koffi Apraku, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Research, Brou also said that key anti-money laundering institutions should be strengthened and adequately resourced.

According to him, the Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) should be adequately resourced as the central national agency that receives and analyses Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs).

Brou added that the private sector must also be mobilised in the implementation of effective measures against money laundering, terrorism financing and other crimes in the region.

“I wish to reaffirm our commitment to the integration agenda of the ECOWAS Community, where the people come first. We are committed to enhancing institutional governance, a results-oriented management, as well as ensuring institutional credibility.

“We will do everything possible to ensure that Community Institutions are able to deliver their mandate, and GIABA is provided the resources it requires to deliver on its mandate, but will hold every institution accountable.

“Let me state that I have a firm conviction that the outcome of this Forum will spur our region in designing robust policies for the fight against organised crime, terrorism and terrorism financing,’’ he said.

The Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), is a specialised institution of the Economic Community of West African States responsible for facilitating the adoption and implementation of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Financing of Terrorism (CFT) in West Africa.

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It is also the FATF-Style Regional Body (FSRB) in West Africa and works with member-States in the region to ensure compliance with international AML/CFT standards.

GIABA was established in 2000 and has its headquarters in Dakar, Senegal.

The body consists of 17 member-states.

GIABA grants Observer Status to African and non-African States, as well as Inter-Governmental Organizations that support its objectives and actions and which have applied for observer status.

The following organizations are also eligible for observer status within GIABA: the Central Banks of Signatory States, regional Securities and Exchange Commissions and UEMOA, Banque Ouest Africaine pour le Développement (BOAD), the French Zone Anti-Money Laundering Liaison Committee (Conseil Régional de l’Epargne Public et des Marchés Financiers).

Others include the African Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the FATF,  Interpol, WCO, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the European Union.

In 2007, Observer status was granted to the Egmont Group.(NAN)