EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde
The Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) has called for improved security at Free Trade Zones (FTZs) across the country so as to control the menace of money laundering.
Director-General, GIABA, Dr. Abdullahi Shehu, made this call in a speech presented at a national workshop on money laundering through FTZs that was held in Lagos.
According to Shehu, wherever there is free flow of money, criminals would attempt to utilise loopholes in regimes “to wash their ill-gotten proceeds,”
He added: “FTZs are no exemption as they are central to the integrated global economy including stimulating economic growth. The relevance of FTZs continues to grow as globalisation defines economic progress. However the standards, oversight, and regulations governing FTZs have not kept pace with these developments.
“As a result, illicit actors have been able to take advantage of the vulnerability of FTZs to launder the proceeds of crime. It is therefore of urgent need for FTZs to be kept abreast of their responsibilities in implementing Anti-money Laundering and Combating of the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regimes within their operational zones to prevent the misuse of FTZs as a conduit for money laundering, financing of terrorism and financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”
The GIABA boss further stated that the programme, which also had in attendance, officers of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), was to sensitise stakeholders responsible for FTZs issues on their roles so as to effectively implement the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations.
“The establishment of the FATF in 1989 represents a dynamic approach in global efforts in the prevention and fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. The idea of targeting criminal finance gained credence and the emergence of FATF was direct response to the slow process of the convention-based approach to the prevention and control of the escalating ML activities.
The extent of the implementation of the FATF Standards by a country is ascertained through a peer review mechanism known as mutual evaluation. The level of compliance through the rating of each of the Recommendations is established by the mutual evaluation report (MER),” he added.
GIABA’s membership consists of all the fifteen member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).