FREETOWN, (Xinhua) --
Representatives from the 15 Economic Community of
West African States (ECOWAS) members on Wednesday converged in
Freetown, Sierra Leone, for a three-day conference on combating
money-laundering and terrorist financing in the maritime sector.
organized by the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money
Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), will last through Friday.
Deputy Minister of Finance Patricia Laverley said the fight
against money laundering and terrorist financing has gained
global momentum due to threats that those crimes pose to the
integrity of the financial system, implications of state
security, stability and the rule of law.
effects of money-laundering and terrorist financing on economic
development to a nation are difficult to quantify,” she said.
Laverley said it was
expected that the conference would boost security in the region,
particularly within the Gulf of Guinea, against maritime
threats, reduce illegitimate trade and establish a solid
“At the end of the
conference, it is expected that there would be enhanced
money-laundering analysis in maritime sector of member states,
improvement in compliance level of financial and maritime
institutions, less incidences of money-laundering and terrorist
financing in maritime space,” she noted.
Reading a statement
on behalf of GIABA Director-General KImelabalou ABA, Director of
Programs and Projects Buno E. Nduka noted that international
trade is important for a number of African economies, with more
than 90 percent of African countries’ imports and exports being
shipped by sea.
“Due to the lack of
security at sea and the shortfalls of the international trade
control system, these vulnerabilities are exploited by criminal
organizations and terrorist groups to transfer funds for
illegitimate purposes,” he said.
Nduka said the main
objective of the conference is to build the technical capacity
of law enforcement officers by emphasizing the existence and
relevance of financial and trade data, crime-targeting and the
necessary analytical skills.
Intelligence Unit Director Ahmed B. Kamara, who also doubles as
GIABA national correspondent for Sierra Leone, said: “There is a
whole host of illegal activities on our waters that generate
proceeds of crime which are then laundered in the formal and
He noted that with
the ongoing oil exploration and the prospect of oil discovery,
drilling and export of crude oil in the near future, “there is
going to be an explosion of illegal maritime activities ahead of
GIABA’s initiative in bringing this conference to our doorsteps
in order to sensitize and galvanize all actors,” Kamara said.