* AGF lauds anti-money laundering efforts
Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) weekend called for the inclusion of at least one of its members in the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Touray, said the request was based on the efforts and successes the region had recorded in the fight against organised crimes, including terrorism financing, money laundering and illicit financial flows from the region.
FATF is an independent inter-governmental body that develops and promotes policies to protect the global financial system against money laundering, terrorism financing and the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
As of last month, FATF has only 38 countries as full members, with South Africa being the only African representative.
Speaking at the 27th Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) Ministerial Committee Meeting, which ended in Abuja, Touray lamented that apart from South Africa, no other African country is a member of FATF.
“I would like to use this opportunity to restate our determination to see at least one member of ECOWAS join the FATF as a member. We are committed to this cause and solicit your support in this regard.
“ECOWAS and its institutions remain committed to working with FATF to addressing organised crimes, including terrorism financing, money laundering and illicit financial flows from our region,”he said.
While calling on member states to continue to take practical steps to effectively address the strategic deficiencies identified in their systems, the president charged the judiciary in the region to be more responsive in the adjudication of cases of money laundering, terrorism and terrorist financing to deprive criminals of the proceeds of their crime, recover stolen assets, and dismantle criminal enterprises.
“In addition, member states should deepen their risk understanding, strengthen domestic coordination and international cooperation and promote public-private partnerships. In all, strong political will and commitments are critical”, he added.
Meanwhile, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) has expressed delight over the progress GIABA has made in completing the Effectiveness Improvement Action Plan (EIAP).
He said: “The completion of this action plan would certainly mark a remarkable turnaround in the efficiency of GIABA and I must commend the director general and all members of the secretariat for their commitment to the entire process.
“I would also extend our appreciation to the members of the regional contact group and the FATF contact group who contributed immensely to this process. I urge all of us here to find the provide the political support and leadership to build on the platform provided by the completion of the action plan”.
Fagbemi however stressed that it was incumbent on member states to provide all the support that was necessary for GIABA to conduct its work in a more effective and efficient manner.
He observed that as a capable and technically competent organisation, GIABA can and should put before the rest of the global network, the aspirations and peculiarities of the West Africa region.