West African countries have been called on to strengthen their political commitments and leadership roles in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
They have also been entreated to establish early warning mechanism for the prevention of terrorism and enhance regional capacity and expertise to promote the rule of law, democracy and good governance to enable robust implementation of the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime.
Mr Timothy Melaye, Manager, Intergovernmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) Information Centre in Lagos, Nigeria made the call at Assinie in Ivory Coast last Tuesday at a regional training workshop for journalists on financial and economic crimes.
“There is also the need for adequate resources (technical assistance and financial) for the effective implementation of AML/CFT measures,” he added.
Mr Melaye said doing these would reduce if not eradicate completely the challenges faced in the processes of the AML/CFT.
Some of these challenges, he said, were low political will to drive AML/CFT, poor funding of the implementation process of AML/CFT programmes and low level of regional and international cooperation.
Others included the inabilities to completely deal with the complexities in the administration of AML/CFT regime, slow pace of introduction of legislative changes in the region, informal and cash-based nature of the region’s economy as well as poor data management.
As such, Mr Melaye said there was the need for the media to learn and acquire deep knowledge of issues in AML/CFT, adding that “journalists must deploy their advocacy skills in agenda setting, influencing policies, and exposing ills in society as well work with and within an established network.”
He indicated that GIABA had adopted a comprehensive communication strategy and strengthened collaborations with stakeholders.
The Manager at the GIABA Information Centre in Lagos, Nigeria said the group had also provided direct assistance towards the establishment of fully operational Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) and had in place a revised and adopted GIABA Mutual Evaluation process and procedures.
Mr Melaye stressed that GIABA was leading a great behavioural change campaign, which she could not do alone, “therefore our hands, your hands and their hands and their hands are required.”
“Working together, we can win the battle. We can change our world. Yes we can,” he added.
FROM ABIGAIL ARTHUR, ASSINIE, IVORY COAST
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