Thursday, 14 August 2014

Gambia to amend money laundering deficiencies or risk being blacklisted

By Lamin Jahateh
Gambia Flag
A number of strategic deficiencies have been identified in The Gambia efforts to tackle money laundering and terrorism financing, although it has registered some progress in tackling the twin evils.

The 2013 annual report of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), released on Monday showed that The Gambia has not addressed a number of the strategic deficiencies in its Anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) system.

GIABA, an arm of Ecowas mandated to fight money laundering and terrorism financing in the sub-region, said the most crucial of these deficiencies are the non-criminalization of the full range of predicate offences, absence of effective laws and procedures for implementing United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions 1267 and 1373, and lack of ratification of various instruments on counterterrorism.

Imminent drastic actions

At the GIABA November 2013 plenary, The Gambia was called upon to demonstrate greater commitment to the implementation of its AML/CFT measures.

The country was directed to address its AML/CFT strategic deficiencies among others failing which a public statement will be published on the country.

Also, if the deficiencies are not addressed urgently, GIABA said The Gambia will soon be blacklisted for not making sufficient progress to improve its AML/CFT system.

“The consequences of this action on the country’s economy will be enormous,” the report stated, though it does not specified the repercussion.

In the report, GIABA said these serious measures have been taken against The Gambia because of the high risk associated with the country’s low compliance to international standards to tackle money laundering and terrorism financing.

For GIABA, The Gambia therefore needs to mobilize all required resources, including political commitment at the highest level, in order to mitigate the money laundering and terrorism financing risks it faces.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Gambia real estate sector provides conduit for illicit money to be laundered

By Lamin Jahateh
The Gambia’s booming real estate sector has provided a conduit, a channel through which drug traffickers, corrupt people and other criminals involve in illicit financial activities to launder their ill-gotten gains.

The 2013 annual report of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), released on Monday, stated that the most prevalent predicate crimes in the country in 2013 were drug trafficking, corruption, tax fraud, bank fraud and fraud in other investments.

Monies generated from such criminal ventures are typically laundered through the real estate, cross-border cash movements, and banks.

Real estate sector

The rapid development in The Gambia’s real estate sector is increasingly becoming a cause for concern as it is one of the sectors that are most vulnerable to the activities of money launderers.

The country continues to witness tremendous development in the construction and real estate sector with strong foreign direct investment.  Almost all the major coastal and some inland towns and villages have at least one housing estate or individual properties situated randomly for sale. 

However, the increased pace of economic development in the real estate sector also presents a challenge to the country.  This is so because The Gambia is yet to fully develop a regulatory framework to shield itself against criminals using real estate to launder their ill-gotten money or proceeds from criminal activities.

W/African economic growth provides fertile land large scale corruption

By Lamin Jahateh
The rapid and sustained economic growth and financial expansion across economies in West Africa have provide fertile ground for large-scale corruption and profit-motivated crimes.

The 2013 annual report of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), released on Monday, said West African countries witnessed major political, economic and social developments in 2013.

Prominent among these developments, according to the report, is the continued macro-economic growth and the expansion of the financial sector.  Specifically, West Africa is projected to post an average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 6.7 per cent and 7.4 per cent in 2013 and 2014, respectively. 

“The evidence, economic and financial growth provide a fertile ground for large-scale corruption and profit-motivated crimes unless it is accompanied by far-reaching reforms in governance,” GIABA said.

Besides, the fact that this growth has not generated corresponding levels of employment means that many young people still suffer high unemployment, with attendant consequences for crime and other social problems.

Gambia's stability “built on coercion” than freedom and democracy

By Lamin Jahateh
President Jammeh

The Gambia has remained politically stable since the military coups of 1994 that brought the incumbent president, Yahya Jammeh, to power, the 2013 report of an Ecowas institution has noted in its analysis of the political situation of The Gambia. 

However the political stability in the country is “generally perceived” to have been built on coercion rather than on civil liberties, fundamental freedoms, democratic culture and popular participation, the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) stated in its latest annual report, released on Monday.

“Democratic politics and human rights are still limited under a system where the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction Party dominates the political space, and there is little tolerance for dissent,” the sub-regional institution mandated to fight money laundering and terrorism financing in the sub-regional said in its report. 

Friday, 13 June 2014

Egypt Acquits Former Minister of Money Laundering Charges

Habib Al-Adly
Habib Al-Adly,
Cairo — An Egyptian court has acquitted former interior minister Habib al-Adly of money-laundering and profiteering charges.

 Adly, who served under the rule of toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, was sentenced in 2011 to 12 years in prison over charges of illegally acquired 181 million Egyptian pounds.

He was also fined four million Egyptian pounds and eight-hundred fifty-three Egyptian pounds for graft charges and nine million and twenty-six pounds for money laundering.

Adly will submit a request to be released after serving a three-years prison term over other charges, his lawyer told Aswat Masriya.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Son of Brazilian football legend sentenced to 33 years in jail for money laundering

Pele's son Edinho
Edinho, son of Pele
The son of the Brazilian football legend Pele has been sentenced to 33 years in jail for laundering money raised from drug trafficking. 

Edinho is a retired footballer who played goalkeeper for Pele's old club, Santos, in the 1990s.

He was first arrested in 2005 and has served a sentence for drug trafficking offences and links with a notorious drug dealer in the city of Santos.

He admits he had a drug problem but denies the trafficking charges.

The ruling was issued by a judge in the nearby coastal city of Praia Grande, in Sao Paulo state.
Brazilian media have not been able to contact Edinho, whose real name is Edson Cholbi do Nascimento, but they say he is expected to appeal.

Edinho, 43, works as a goalkeeping coach at Santos.
US childhood
Pele, or Edson Arantes do Nascimento, played all his professional career in Brazil for Santos.
Playing for Brazil, he won the World Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970 and was acclaimed as the greatest footballer of his generation.

Nigeria: Banks and Money Laundering

The indictment by the Acting Governor of Nigeria's central Bank, Dr. Sarah Alade that Banks have been aiding money laundering, a practice which puts a slur on their integrity, professional and ethical standard did not come as a surprise to keen observers of the Nigerian banking system. What is however curious is that the charge is coming from the apex bank that has statutory regulatory power to detect, query, and sanction any erring bank that violates the extant banking regulations. 

CBN Governor delivered the indictment at a course on Combating Money Laundering and other Financial Crimes organised by the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM) in Abuja last week. According to Mrs. Alade, "bank facilities are used knowingly and unknowingly to further the act of money laundering and in most cases to retain the proceeds of such crime" which include, round tripping, financial fraud, capital flight, fake cheques, fake currency minting, advanced fee fraud and insiders abuse. She also warned that money laundering has adverse effect on foreign direct investment (FDI) "when a country's commercial and financial sector are perceived to be associated with the incidence of organized crimes".