Mr Richard Yoneoka said the establishment of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), a newly created government institution mandated to combat ML and TF in the country, is a manifestation of the progress by the government to tackle the twin crimes.
Mr Yoneoka was speaking on Monday at a hotel in Banjul during the opening of a five-day training on financial analysis techniques for FIU of The Gambia and Sierra Leone.
Organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) with funding from the US Department of State, the training is meant to further enhance the operational capacity of the FIUs. It is also being attended by delegates from Ghana and Ivory Coast to share their experience with counterparts from Banjul and Freetown.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Yoneoka said The Gambia government, like that of Sierra Leone, is committed to enhancing and empowering its FIU to tackle ML and TF.
He said the government’s commitment to tackle the crimes is manifested by the recent ratification of the UN Convention for the Suppression of the International Financing of Terrorism 1999, and the UN Convention against Corruption 2003 by the National Assembly.
“You (the government) should be commended,” Mr Yoneoka emphasised.
However, he said like the US government and the Gambia government should work to prevent money from falling into the hands of terrorist organisations. The governments of The Gambia and Sierra Leone and the wider international community must work to prevent criminals from the proceeds and financial benefits of crimes, he added.
“Without money these groups will not have the funds to buy weapons, to propagate messages of hate. Without money these groups will find it very difficult to exist,” the US charge d’affaires said.
Mr Ludovic D’Hoore, UNODC regional advisor on anti-money laundering and combating terrorism financing in West Africa, said illicit funds are at the heart of how crime and terrorism operate.
“It is therefore essential that countries consider the fight against money laundering, terrorism financing and economic and financial crime in general as an essential strategic dimension of their criminal policies,” he said.
Yahya Camara, director of The Gambia FIU, said the fight against crimes has attracted the highest political commitment in the country. According to him, The Gambia is among the first countries in West Africa to enact laws against terrorism and the government continues to fund the operations of the FIU.
Basiru Njai, first deputy governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia, said the government continues to put in place legal, institutional and other measures in accordance with international best practices in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.]]>