THE ROLE OF INTER-GOVERNMENTAL ACTION GROUP AGAINST MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORIST FINANCING IN WEST AFRICA (GIABA) IN COMBATING MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORIST FINANCING UNDER THE ECOWAS COMMUNITY

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CHAPTER ONE GENERAL INTRODUCTION

  • Background of the Study

Money laundering and terrorist financing undermine development by eroding social and human capital, affecting social and political stability, causing artificial rise in the cost of business, and thus driving away business and investment and undermining the ability of the states to accelerate development. A State or Society that is infested with Terrorism and Money laundering is bound to be lawless or order less, and anarchy, will thus, set in thereby rendering the society undeveloped politically and economically.

The process of globalization and advancement in modern technology have made West Africa to be more vulnerable to the threats of terrorism and money laundering than any other region of the world. Nigeria, Kenya and some African countries have witnessed the scorch of terrorism: Resources from organized crimes through money laundering have sustained this menace thus the need for a fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. Globalization has resulted in the need for international organization and regional bodies to broaden their focus beyond state – based security threats to encompass, those emanating from non-state perpetrators1.Transnational organized crime is one of the major threats to international peace and security. Thus, money laundering and terrorist financing form part of the threat. While money laundering (ML) is a derivative crime, financing of terrorism (FT) is a ‘reversed’ form of money laundering as it may involve both legitimate and illegitimate wealth2. These menaces are detrimental to peace and security, and could undermine the overall development of society. This is why concerted global efforts to eradicate these phenomena are gaining momentum.

Also, technological advancement, in tandem with globalization, has changed the economic and political landscape of the planet. Organized criminals take advantage of the powerful instruments of technology and globalization to perpetrate their unwholesome activities with relative impunity. While criminals respect no territorial boundaries, law enforcement must act within the ambit of the law to counter the activities of criminals. Given the difficulties in responding rapidly to the threat of transnational organized crime, law enforcement, even in the most advanced countries, always seems to be a step behind the complex modus operadi of criminals. Consequently, no nation can effectively tackle the menace of transnational organized crime in isolation. It should be noted at the outset that criminals usually explore and exploit the socioeconomic conditions of societies, in particular taking advantage of the weak links in regulation and enforcement, such as inadequate legislation and opportunities to corrupt.3

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States of America accelerated this paradigm shift and provoked global efforts to address international terrorism. An important element of such efforts is the United  Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1373 of 2001, which was adopted subsequent to these attacks principally sought to combat acts of terrorism by placing barriers on movement, organization and funding of terrorist groups4.

In effort to compliment the United Nation Security Council Resolution 2001 in combating money laundering and terrorism financing in West African Region GIABA was created. The inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) is a specialized institution of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), as well as a Financial Action task force (FATF) style Regional Body (FSRB)5. Its mandate is to develop anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism (AML/CTF) measures, and to coordinate regional efforts to combat money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing (TF). Its membership consist of all member states of the ECOWAS as it is, with it’s headquarters in Dakar, Senegal, as such, a regional inter -governmental body which supports the work of the UN in preventing, detecting, deterring and suppressing terrorism, particularly its financing.

Since the establishment of a functional secretariat in 2006, the Inter – Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa has remained focused on its mandate to protect the economies of member  states against abuse and misuse for the purposes of laundering the proceeds of crime6. As a FATF – style Regional Body, GIABA works assiduously to implement acceptable international standards against Money laundering and Terrorist Financing, including the FATF 40 + 9 Recommendations against money laundering and terrorist financing.

As an ECOWAS Institution, GIABA depends on the strong support of the ECOWAS and development partners to provide technical assistance to its members in order to help them build the necessary framework and capacity to respond rapidly to the problems of money laundering and terrorist financing, and to intensify the overall regional integration process of the ECOWAS respond rapidly to the problems of money laundering and terrorist financing, and to intensify the overall regional integration process of the ECOWAS.

THE ROLE OF INTER-GOVERNMENTAL ACTION GROUP AGAINST MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORIST FINANCING IN WEST AFRICA (GIABA) IN COMBATING MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORIST FINANCING UNDER THE ECOWAS COMMUNITY