The Gambia is set to upgrade its ‘deficient’ anti-money laundering and terrorism financing laws with a view to bringing it in line with international standards, the MarketPlace Newspaper has revealed.
According to parliamentary sources, as part of the second meeting of the National Assembly in the 2012 Legislative Year (from 18 to 28 June 2012), Finance and Economic Affairs Minister Abdou Kolley, on 27 June, shall lay before the National Assembly the Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Bill 2012 for ratification by the country’s lawmakers.
|Finance Minister Abdou Kolley|
The passage of this bill is part of government’s efforts at beefing up its machinery by putting in place appropriate and standard legislation to combat money laundering and terrorist financing to prevent the country’s financial system from being misused as a channel for the transfer and retention of illicit funds.
The previous Anti-Money Laundering law of The Gambia is below standard as it designated only 13 predicate offences for money laundering. This falls short of the minimum 20 designated categories under the recommendation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which is the principal international standard body setting on money laundering and terrorist financing.
In this vein, the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (GIABA) - an arm of ECOWAS responsible for the prevention and control of money laundering and terrorist financing in West Africa - has been urging the Gambian authorities to amend and pass a standard anti-money laundering legislation. Getting the Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Bill 2012 passed will serve as a testimony that the Gambia government has paid heed to GIABA’s call and that the negotiation leading to actualizing the bill was fruitful.
Terrorism financing and money laundering in The Gambia
The situation of the twin crimes of money laundering and terrorist financing is a disturbing factor for The Gambia. However, though The Gambia has not experienced any terrorist attack and none has been launched from within the country, intelligence reports indicate that the country is vulnerable to terrorism given its location in the Saharan region surrounded by countries that terrorists have used in the past to launch attacks.
With regard to money laundering, various reports of GIABA on The Gambia indicate that the menace is increasingly a major problem in the country though its magnitude or severity remains relatively difficult to determine.
The latest report of GIABA has indicated that almost all booming sectors of the Gambia economy, including the banking industry, the tourism industry, and the real estate sector, are all vulnerable to money laundering.
Therefore, passing the legislation is a step in the right direction, although to make the bill serve its intended purposes, the various national agencies involved in anti-money laundering and financing terrorism activities, like the Financial Intelligence Unit, should be empowered with the required technical and operational personnel to supervise and monitor financial institutions’ compliance with the new bill.