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Gambia: ‘Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing Constitute Major Obstacles to Our Development’

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The director general, Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) has stressed that money laundering and terrorist financing constitute major obstacles to “our development.”

Mr. Edwin W. Harris, Jr. made the remarks at the opening of a 5th Regional Inter-Universities Speech contest on the impact of money laundering and Terrorist Financing on Economies of West Africa held recently at Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre.

Organised by FIU Gambia with technical and financial support from GIABA, the event seeks to deepen the knowledge base of students at the tertiary level in the area of AML/CFT within the region.

“It is in pursuant of this objective that the English speaking countries of ECOWAS are all invited and gathered through their student representatives.”

These crimes, he added, have had an adverse impact on regional security and development, including erosion image and reputation to member states, loss of foreign direct investment, poor infrastructural development, dwindling confidence and distortions in our political as well as financial systems.

“In response to the devastating effects of these crimes, the authorities of the ECOWAS established the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) in 2000, as a clear demonstration of their political will to address these challenges within the region and also to support the global fight against these vies.”

DG GIABA reminded that the primary mandate of GIABA is to develop measures to protect economies of member states from abuse and laundering of the proceeds of crimes and to strengthen cooperation amongst its member States.

He outlined that since its inception commendable improvements have been made in the implementation of AML/CFT regime across the region.

“Member countries have made significant progress and we are at various levels in the implementation of their AML/CFT regimes on the whole. This improvement in the AML/CFT regimes of member states has contributed to good governance, enhanced development and security in several member states.”

This year, he added, they were able to have contestants from The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

“The first edition was held in Accra, Ghana, in 2013. Subsequent editions were held in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire in 2017, Enugu, Nigeria in 2019 and Bissau, Guinea in 2021, while the fifth edition in 2022 is taking place in The Gambia.”

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