The Director General of the West African anti-money laundering institution has urged continued support from member countries for the effective implementation of the anti-money laundering and terrorist financing measures in the region.

Dr Abdullah Shehu, who heads the Dakar based Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), was recently addressing ambassadors of the Economic Community of West African States accredited to the Senegalese capital Dakar.

The forum, held from the 28 to the 29 April, 2012, was part of GIABA`s annual World Press Conference convened to update the press on its progress over the period under review.

GIABA was established by ECOWAS member countries in 2000 in response to growing spate of financial crimes and to counter a threatening trend of terrorist activities in the region.

Last week`s confab, which brought together representatives from member countries, also saw the launching of 2011 Annual Report. It is a global review of the situation of anti-money laundering and terrorist financing in West Africa.

Corruption, fraud, drug trafficking as well as smuggling of precious metals and stones are identified in the report, among others, as constituting major predicate crimes that generate funds for laundering in the region.

This situation, according to the report, is facilitated by weak enforcement by member countries, low capacity of competent authorities and inadequate supervision.

Headquartered in Dakar, GIABA`s mandate include ensuring the adoption of standards against money laundering and financing of terrorism in accordance with acceptable international standards and practices. It also is tasked with facilitating the adoption by member countries of measures taken at regional level aimed at curbing the menaces.

“The establishment of GIABA is a major response and a demonstration of political commitment of the ECOWAS to the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, and thus, the promotion of good governance and development,” said Dr Shehu told the ECOWAS ambassadors present at its Ambassadors` briefing in Dakar`s prestigious Hotel Radisson Blu.

His address catalogued progress made by his institution as well as limitations occasioned by a number of factors bordering on legislative and administrative deficiencies.

“Challenges still remain, but I trust that with our joint effort, we can surmount the challenges,” Dr Shehu said.

The GIABA 2011 report notes the obvious incidences of terrorist activities occasioned by the presence of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) as well as Nigeria`s worrisome Boko Haram menace.

The reports also cites a number of inhibiting factors said to have particularly limited the effort to counter these occurrences including legal and constitutional challenges, lack of proper autonomy of regulatory and enforcement institutions in some member countries, as well as shortcomings in logistics. Written by Kemo Cham