Money Laundering: A Foe of the Financial System

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 Dr. Buno Nduka, director of programs and projects of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering, has described the act and terrorist financing as activities that undermine the stability and integrity of the financial system in West Africa.

Dr. Nduka made the statement Tuesday, April 08, at a one-day financial sector executive officers dialogue meeting held in Monrovia.

According to him, the dialogue was intended to provide a standards framework to act against criminals by clarifying and strengthening existing obligations and tackle the threat posed by ‘money laundering and terrorist financing’ in the sub region.

He said, “As part of the global efforts to ensure that the financial system is not misused for the purpose of laundering proceeds of crimes; the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in February 2012, revised its standards to provide a stronger framework against criminals.”

The GIABA programs, according to Director Nduka, are providing new ways to combat threats to the international financial system and have competent authorities with knowledge and experience to counter the evolving dangers posed by money laundering and terrorist financing.

He explained that FATF recommendations two and 40 call for national cooperation and coordination as well as international cooperation amongst competent authorities. These authorities include regulatory institutions that ensure money laundering rings and terrorist financiers are effectively combated and shut down.

He said that recommendations one and from 19 to 21 of GIABA documents specifically focus on money laundering and terrorist financing risk assessment, customer identification, record keeping and reporting suspicious transactions on financial institutions.

“Money laundering and terrorist financing have adverse consequences on the financial system. They undermine the stability and integrity of the system and expose the system to reputational damage and legal risk. This reduces the contribution of the sector to economic development, while all the countries integrated into the international financial system become exposed to the risks of these crimes,” said Dr. Nduka.

He moved on to recommendation 26, which requires regulatory authorities to undertake supervision of financial institutions under their purview for Anti-money Laundering (AML) CFT and the financial sector, which is central to the implementation of the AML/CFT standard in any country.

He disclosed that the outcomes of GIABA’s first round of mutual evaluation of member states (MS) reveal a generally low performance by the financial sector. This is owed to several factors, including insufficient commitment on the part of the management of financial institutions in implementing AML/CFT standards.

“The compliance status of the sector in relation to the implementation of AML/CFT standards has serious consequences on the integrity and stability of the sector, its role in economic development, and ultimately, the achievement of ECOWAS’ overall objectives,” he maintained.

For his part, the Director for Regulation and Supervision of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Musa Kamara, on behalf of Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Deputy Governor for Administration, Charles E. Sirleaf, told GIABA members that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is fully committed to strengthening the AML/CFT of the country.

Money Laundering

Money Laundering is the process where the proceeds of crime are transformed into ostensibly legitimate money or other assets.

However, in a number of legal and regulatory systems, the term money laundering has become mixed with other forms of financial crimes, and sometimes used more generally to include misuse of the financial system, including terrorist financing, tax evasion, and evading of international sanctions.  

It is said that the term ‘money laundering’ was coined from the practice of the American mafia who, at one time, channelled the cash proceeds of their crimes through launderettes to legitimize the cash. Whether this is true or not, the term ‘money laundering’ is now widely used.

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