|As various reports on the money laundering situation of the Gambia indicates that the menace is increasingly a major problem in the country, the government “has made significant efforts at beefing up its machinery to combat the social evils of money laundering and terrorism financing”, said the Governor of Central Bank of The Gambia.|
File Pic: CBG Governor, Amadou Colley
Hon. Amadou Colley said The Gambia has in place various interventions towards combating money laundering and other financial crimes which include the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2003 and the Anti-Terrorism Act 2002.
However, Gambia’s Anti-Money Laundering Act falls short of expectation as it designated only 13 predicate offences for money laundering and this falls short of the minimum 20 designated categories under the recommendation of Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is the principal international standard body setting on money laundering and terrorist financing.
The CBG Governor was speaking on Monday at the opening ceremony of a five-day regional course on combating money laundering and other financial crimes organised by West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM) with the technical support from the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), a sub-regional body set up by ECOWAS to fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
Held at Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi, the course was meant to equip participants with critical skills in tracking money laundering and financial crimes perpetrated through the financial system in the sub-region.
The training brought together senior officials of central banks, deposit money banks, and other institutions responsible for ensuring compliance with anti-money laundering, from various countries in the sub-region.
Governor Colley said the Central Bank of The Gambia, which is one of the two institutions responsible for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT), through the Financial Intelligence Unit, is working closely with the banks not only in putting measures in place for customer due diligence but the detection of suspicious transactions for reporting purposes.
Like the previous report, the 2009 report of GIABA indicates that the laundering of illicit money is increasingly a major problem in The Gambia. However, “its magnitude or severity remains relatively difficult to determine.” It added that porous borders, weak controls, prevailing poverty, dominance of cash transaction, massive inflows of tourists and anecdotal evidence of increasing drug-related and other criminal activities are all factors contributing to increase money laundering risk environment in The Gambia.
The Central Bank Governor said money laundering can occur in any country and it could have devastating effects on national economies, particularly for developing countries. “This is so because developing economies tend to be small and, therefore, more susceptible to disruption from criminal influences,” he explained.
“Money laundering also has adverse macroeconomic effects and affects exchange rate through large transfers and capital flows. Unchecked, money laundering may engender contempt of the law, thereby undermining public confidence in legal system and in the financial system, which in turn promotes other economic crime such as fraud, exchange control violation and tax evasion,” he added.
Prof. Akpan H Ekpo, director general of WAIFEM said money laundering is a key threat to financial stability in any economy “more so to small and fragile economies in our sub-region”.
He said financial system stability is a major prerequisite for economic growth and development.
He noted that a number of predicate offences for money laundering are common in our region. These, he said, include drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms trafficking and currency counterfeiting.