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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

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

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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.

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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.

 

Cash movement

The major players in The Gambian private sector are non-citizens and as such, GIABA observed that cross-border movement of cash is also a serious challenge due to the economic activities of nationals from other countries.

According to GIABA, The Gambia lacks the capacity to monitor the full stretch of its borders.  Therefore, smuggling is prevalent, though the country’s customs collaborate with Senegalese counterparts to address the problem.

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