By Ndey Sowe
The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Gambia has commenced a three day training for designated non- financial businesses and professions to combat money laundering and terrorism.
Funded by the European Union in collaboration with inter- governmental action group against money laundering in West Africa (GIABA), the programme was aimed at harmonizing the implementation of preventive measures on money laundering, both in the Gambia and within the West African sub-region.
The theme of the training was: “Training workshop for harmonizing the implementation of preventive measures on money laundering and terrorism financial businesses and professionals (DNFBPs) for casinos, dealers in precious metals and stones.”
Alagie Darboe, FIU Director who doubles as GIABA National Correspondent, said this is the fourth of series of training programmes organized under the project. He also underscored the aim of the training which he said was to improve the anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism in West African states.
Mr. Darboe disclosed that FIU is an agency established by the government to combat money laundering, terrorism financing and other criminal conducts as provided for in the (AML/CFT) Act 2012.
“In this extractive sector to which dealers in precious stones and metals belong, significant challenges abound as far as money laundering and terrorism financing risks are concerned”, he underscored.
He said research studies conducted by the financial action task force (FATF) concluded that gold is attractive to money launderers because of its intrinsic value and portable nature, which he said makes it easy to transport. Furthermore, Mr. Darboe pointed out that gold in some cases provides anonymity to individuals buying and selling it.
He noted that such positive indicators should therefore provide all stakeholders with reasons to ensuring that such gains are not reversed, by having in place measures that will safeguard our financial system from financial crimes and abuse.
He urged the participants to make best use of the lessons that would be learned from the training and to ensure that they incorporate them into their business practices.
Lamin Camara, Permanent Secretary Petroleum and Energy said it is noteworthy to mention that the precious minerals sector has been found to be vulnerable which he said is due to the precious stones and metals that can be purchased with illegal funds such as the proceeds of drug or human trafficking.
He stated precious stones and metals can also be used as a cover for laundering illicit fund acquired through other crimes or used as an alternative currency to purchase prohibited or restricted items such as drugs and weapons.
He said the Gambia anti- money laundering and combating of terrorism financing act (2012), in line with the financial action task force recommendations, has made provisions for stakeholders in the designated non- financial businesses and professional sectors.
He urged all participants to embrace this call to action, and further expressed hope the training program will prepare them to be responsive effectively to the challenges highlighted.