-As OSIWA Supports CEMESP In Training Media & CSOs to Monitor Anti-Money Laundering And Terrorist Financing Laws In Liberia
Twenty Liberian journalists and civil society members from seven counties have benefited from a coaching session to enhance the monitoring and advocacy gap in the enforcement of the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing regime in Liberia.
The coaching session was conducted in collaboration with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Liberia and funded by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA). GIABA, which is the Inter-Governmental Group against Money Laundering, seconded its Abuja based Head of Office in charge of Anglophone West African countries in the person of Tim Melaye to provide technical support to CEMESP during the coaching session held in Gbarnga, Bong County from 28 to 29 March.
Speaking during the official opening of the program, an official of the FIU on behalf of Executive Director Alex Cuffy sent out a note of goodwill message and support to the CSO media synergy building effort initiated by CEMESP. Assistant Director Bobby Q, Harris and Legal Officer Attorney Cerenius Abdullai reiterated the role of FIU as an administrative arm of the government that is charged with receiving, analyzing and disseminating reports on actions covered under the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act of Liberia.
GIABA’s Office-in-charge of Anglophone West Africa, Tim Malaye, urged the participants to take issues discussed beyond the confines of the Gbarnga Youth Center; arguing that it is a social service for the self-preservation of individuals and the wider communities at large.
Mr. Malaye said money laundering and terrorist financing has great effects on a country as it distorts the macroeconomic framework, scare away good investors, undermine service delivery in education, health care and other public utilities.
Among other things, issues the GIABA expert discussed ranged from the conceptual framework, anti-money laundering and combating terrorist financing framework, the global initiatives, prevalence and effects, the Financial Action Taskforce on money laundering standards.
He also outlined the stages of money laundering; starting with the placement which involves the physical deposit of ill-gotten cash, the layering which is the separation of illicit cash and integration of the cash into the economy.
As for the FIU, Assistant Director Harris and Legal Officer Attorney Abdullai outlined twenty-one predicate offenses constituting offenses of money laundering in Liberia. They include bribery and corruption, human trafficking, sexual exploitation and child abuse, drug smuggling, forgery, illicit arms deal, fraud and racketeering, counterfeiting, environmental crime such as illegal logging and dumping, kidnapping, murder, piracy, tax evasion, unexplained wealth accumulation, among other things.
The FIU revealed that the Liberian FIU routinely receives suspicious transactions reports that are shared with relevant regulatory bodies. These regulatory bodies include the Central Bank, the National Lottery Authority, Ministry of Lands Mines and Energy, Ministry of Commerce, Liberia Business Registry, Liberia Chamber of Commerce and Ministry of Finance Development Planning.
According to the FIU, competent authorities that are charged with responsibility to deal with predicate offenses include the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, the Liberia National Police, Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, Drug Enforcement Agency, the Transnational Crime Unit and National Security Agency.
The FIU has disclosed that new regulations have been put in place to raise the county’s profile in tackling money laundering and terrorist financing. Some of these measures will see more due diligence done on the registration of NGOs and customer biometric details obtained in banking transactions.
Meanwhile, participants at the Coaching Session with the support of GIABA’s Office-in-charge of Anglophone West Africa have developed a template to facilitate the monitoring of the implementation of Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing laws of Liberia.
CEMESP will now customize the template developed to be attuned to local county realities so that the monitors will over a period of time provide updates that will be shared online. TNR