The Inter-Governmental Action Group Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) has held a two-day National Sensitization seminar in Monrovia, Liberia for religious leaders and institutions on implementing Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing Terrorists (AML/CFT) measures.
Speaking at the opening ceremony Tuesday, Deputy Finance Minister Augustus Flomo stressed that Liberians should fight money laundering on all fronts.
Minister Flomo said religious leaders both from the Christian and Muslim communities should be mindful of money offered in their institutions, noting that the religious community plays a significant role in enhancing moral value of people in society from their childhood.
He said people who engaged in money laundering, pretend to be kind or generous in their community, but they might be engaged in money laundering, but religious leaders should investigate sources of such money.
Minister Flomo promised that government will work along with the religious community to battle money laundering in the society.
Meanwhile, the former Director General of the Financial Intelligence Unit Liberia (FIUL) Edwin W. Harris, said GIABA is intended to battle anti-money laundering and counter financing terrorists in the sub-region.
He said GIABA has been carrying out awareness in Nigeria and Ivory Coast among religious leaders, and that creating awareness in Liberia will provide better understanding to Liberians about money laundering.
For his part, the Officer -In- Charge of the Financial Intelligence Unit of Liberia (FIUL), now transitioning to Financial Intelligence Agency of Liberia (FIAL) Emmanuel T. Gee said, danger caused by money laundering and terrorist financing to any economy cannot be overemphasized.
Director Gee stated that launderers and financiers of terrorists take advantage of vulnerabilities in laws, procedures and systems to commit heinous crimes by themselves or in association with enablers and gatekeepers.
He indicated that the risk of using religious agenda to perpetrate crimes of money laundering and terrorist financing through not-for-profit organizations (NPOs) has been identified as high and therefore, measures are being taken to address such vulnerabilities in many jurisdictions including Liberia.
According to him, awareness and sensitization are key measures to preparing and exposing actors of vulnerable sectors to take due care, prevent and report suspicious activities to the FIUL, Ministry of Justice, and Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs).
“During this awareness workshop, we hope that the purpose be achieved and that commitment be sustained from religious leaders and institutions as stakeholders germane to effectiveness of the AML/CFT regime of Liberia”, Mr. Gee added.
He lauded the government of Liberia on the passage of major legislations positively impacting the country’s AML/CFT regime, including the Financial Intelligence Agency Act, the new Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) Act, and the AML/CFT Preventive Measures, Proceeds of Crimes Act.
Mr. Gee then extended gratitude to GIABA, FAFT-styled regional body- for continued support and collaboration with national authorities of West Africa in the fight against money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing. Editing by Jonathan Browne