The federal government has reaffirmed its support for the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) to fight money laundering, terrorist financing and arms proliferation.
Attorney General Lateef Fagbemi said this at the inauguration of the 40th GIABA Technical Commission and Plenary Meeting on Thursday in Abuja.
Mr Fagbemi, also the chair of the GIABA ministerial committee, said Nigeria had achieved improved technical compliance in ratings towards completion of the International Country Risk Guide (ICRG) Action Plan.
“Nigeria will continue to provide necessary support to ensure the remaining aspects of the programme are completed and that GIABA is a model of effective delivery during the next round of evaluations,” said the Nigerian justice minister. “Our support for GIABA is predicated on the awareness that it is currently the only mechanism through which our region can influence development of the standards and recommendations by which we will be assessed.”
Mr Fagbemi noted that an effective GIABA that “is confident and can articulate peculiarities and ambitions of our region within the global AML/CFT/CPF system” should be a goal that all member states support.
“As we look to the future and next mutual evaluation cycle, it is becoming more imperative to ensure there is effective representation of diversity of views and voices within the global AML/CFT system,” he stressed. “As global risks become complex, technology embedded and borders increasingly fragile, we must move towards more tailored approach to responding to this new Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (ML/TF) proliferation environment.”
ECOWAS Commission president Omar Toray commended GIABA for its exit from the Fatal Effectiveness Improvement Programme and efforts towards ending financial crime activities in the sub-region.
Mr Toray described the feat achieved as historic for GIABA and the sub-region.
“The commission will continue to provide needed support to GIABA to sustain the gains in tackling outstanding issues in the action plans, including recruitment of the Director of Evaluation and preparation for next round of mutual evaluation,” stated the ECOWAS Commission head.
He added, “We must not rest on the feat given the many challenges yet to overcome; ECOWAS will continue to provide requisite leadership and space for you to accelerate your compliance with international standards.
“I reaffirm the Commission’s readiness to strengthen cooperation and collaboration with GIABA in the face of ML/TF and other organised crime in our efforts towards regional integration of peace, stability and prosperity.”
Edwin Harris Jr., GIABA director-general, said although the accessed countries’ results published from the second round of evaluation showed progress in technical compliance across the member states, improvement was required for effectiveness.
According to him, it has become a pressing need for the secretariat to work closely with member states to enhance effectiveness compliance, which could lead to more actions that create deterrence.
“Over the coming years, going into the third round, the secretariat will work with member states on assets recovery. This includes all phases, that is, freezing, seizure, confiscation, management, and disposal, with the ultimate goal of denying criminals the use of the proceeds of crimes,” explained Mr Harris Jr. “GIABA will continue to provide technical support to these countries.”