The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is hosting a weeklong forum, “Inter-governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA)” in Liberia through the Government of Liberia Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). The GIABA Pre-Assessment Training Forum kicked off on Monday, August 2, 2021 in Monrovia with a cross-section of stakeholders from government financial institutions and civil society organizations.
Speaking during the opening ceremony in Monrovia, the Director General of Liberia Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Edwin Harris, called on all stakeholders to join the FIU in battling money laundering in the country. He encouraged participants in the week long training to attach importance and seriousness to the exercise because it is vital to Liberia.
Director Harris told the forum that since the GIABA Executive Director’s last visit to Liberia, considerable efforts have been made to combat money laundering. As part of the effort in battling the crime, he disclosed that the Ministry of Justice and President George Manneh Weah have submitted an amendment of the Penal Code and the introduction of the Anti-money Laundering Act of 2019. Those instruments, he said, are now before the Liberian Senate pending legislative action.
He explained that FIU has planned to have a one-day forum with members of the Legislature to explain to them the importance of the instruments currently before them and the need to quickly legislate them. The FIU Director also revealed that the institution has concluded on national risk assessment, anti-money laundering policy and strategic plan.
For his part, the Director General of GIABA, Kimelabalou ABA, applauded Liberia for hosting the pre-assessment training workshop. He pointed out that since the first round of the assessment exercise was conducted in 2012 this is another process to evaluate the country. From 2011 to 2020, Liberia achieved significant progress, he said.
Director, ABA disclosed that the outcome of the assessment exercise will help determine how donors and other international partners extend financial assistance to the country. He urged Liberia to take the necessary measures to counter money laundering. “If all the necessary measures are put into place,” he stated, “ECOWAS countries will benefit from extra foreign investments.” He furthermore encouraged FIU to get experienced officers to assist in the fight.
Delivering his keynote address, Deputy Minister for Department of Economic Management, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Augustus Flomo, said Liberia as a country has undertaken some steps to fight against money laundering. He averred that the government believes in this initiative to carry on the assessment training.
He unfolded that while it is true that the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government is working extremely hard in battling money laundering, the government needs to take some practical steps. He emphasized that the Executive branch of government is engaging the Legislature in ensuring that the Anti-Money Laundering Act is enacted.
He further called on all well-meaning Liberians to join the fight against money laundering, noting that it is not an individual fight. Minister Flomo assured the FIU of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning’s continued support.