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GIABA educates religious leaders on money laundering

February 10, 2021

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The Inter-Government Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) has on Tuesday, February 9th started a two-day training of Stakeholders on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) in West Africa.

The training involved key stakeholders from the Inter-Religious Council, the 50-50 group, Office of National Security (ONS), and members of Financial Intelligent Unit (FIU) at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Freetown.

The objective of the training was to raise awareness level of religious leaders on their role on AML/CFT framework, especially the mandate of GIABA which is to agree on actionable points to promote a peaceful co-existence in particular and AML/CFT efforts in general.

Dignitaries present included the Attorney General and Minister of Justice,Anthony Brewa, Deputy Minister of Finance1,DR. Patricia N. Laverley, Minister of Social Welfare,Baindu Dassama,and the Minister of Internal Affairs.

 Delivering his welcome address , David N. Borbor, Director of FIU, expressed appreciation to GIABA for their sponsorship and support in hosting an all-important sensitisation seminar designed to assist faith based groups to protect them from being misused by criminals who launder their illicit wealth to finance terrorist activities.

“The complex nature of money laundering and terrorist financing is a manifestation of modern day criminality, and the many ways in which they operate in practice make assessing the harm caused a daunting task,” he noted.

He further noted that money laundering and terrorist financing undermine the integrity of economic, political and judicial systems and the stability and prosperity of nation state.

Borbor explained that Sierra Leone has gone through a process of mutual evaluation of peer review mechanism for assessing a country’s compliance with the FATF standards, and that the assessment was conducted using the FATF recommendations and their interpretive notes and methodology.

He said the outcome of the mutual evaluation process was recently adopted at the GIABA plenary held in Senegal in December 2020,adding that the report indicates that since the last evaluation in 2007, Sierra Leone has taken steps informed by the findings of the 2007 Mutual Evaluation Report (MER).

Director Borbor also noted that Sierra Leone re-enacted the Banking Act in 2019,which helped enhanced the country’s legal framework and provided basic elements for an effective AML/CFT regime.

“I also hereby acknowledged that religious leaders had been supportive to government in the implementation of our national counter-terrorism strategy by their contribution to the success of the counter-radicalization Seminar of IMAMS and other Islamic Clerics pioneered by the Office of the National Security (ONS) in September 2016,” he said.

He encouraged  Muslims and Christians to keep maintaining the peace and to also keep the momentum in upholding the fundamentals of their faith, which will be a meaningful contribution of keeping the country and the world safe.

DR. Buno Nduka,who ably represented the Director General of GIABA, said the organisation  undertakes it roles to ensure that members states comply with the Acceptable International Standards on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT).

“As an FSRB, GIABA conducts mutual evaluations – a peer review mechanism for assessing the level of technical compliance and effectiveness of members states AML/CFT systems with international standards. GIABA also carries out valuable reaches and typologies exercise to identify the various Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing trends and methods in order to strengthen and enforcement actions,” he said.

Other functions of GIABA he said, are acting as a forum where members can discuss regional issues and share their experience, assisting member states in establishing and strengthening stakeholders’ institutions like the FIU, and coordinating and supporting members states in the implementation of AML/CFT systems.

He added that their expectation was that the seminar will be a springboard for a renewed commitment of all religious leaders to identifying the key roles they must play in raising awareness and shaping the morals of their congregations and followers through the force of moral persuasive messages.

“GIABA has assembled seasoned experts and astute resource persons that will in this two-day seminar, share great insights on roles we ought to play in the fight against , not just ML/TF, but also other social ills in our society”, he highlighted.

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