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LIBERIA, SIERRA LEONE ENDORSED THE DECLARATION OF CURRENCY AT EVERY ENTRY POINT…

Monrovia – Liberia and Sierra Leone are two key members of the Mano River Union (MRU) have endorsed the declaration of currency or banknotes at every entry point to robustly help in the prevention and fight against money laundering and countering terrorist financing in the MRU region.

Speaking at the Signing of the joint communique on Friday, October 15, 2021, the Director-General of the Sierra Leonean Financial Intelligence Unit, David N. Borbor, elaborated that several provisions in the communique that are common challenges relating to cross border activities such as, smuggling of goods, precious stones, illicit financial flows, counterfeit currencies, trade-based money laundering, have been analyzed by the two countries for robust action.

According to him, Liberia and Sierra Leone FIUs are prepared to increase intelligence gathering and sharing information to reduce the risks associated with metals, currency declaration, freezing and confiscation of ill-gotten assets, and other illicit acts, that are posing serious threats to the financial system of the two countries and the MRU region at large.

He mentioned that their visit to Liberia will be used as a launchpad to promote cooperation amongst countries within the Mano River Basin, namely, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Ivory Coast to help prevent and combat money laundering and counter-terrorist financing.

“The development of a joint proposal for funding under the OSIWA’s Economic Justice Programme and other cross-cutting initiatives to address common challenges relating to cross-border illicit activities is important,” he noted.

Mr. Borbor further proposed working on a typology study focusing on cross-border trade-based money laundering and terrorist financing, coupled with the enhancement of bilateral intelligence gathering and sharing of information to address the effectiveness of money laundering and other illicit acts in Liberia and Sierra Leone,  have been enshrined in the joint communique.

“The timely collection, maintenance, and accessibility of statistical records and other data is vital to demonstrating the extent of the effectiveness of a country’s Anti-money laundering and Countering Terrorist Financing ( AML/CFT) regime,” the Sierra Leonean FIU boss pointed out.

The Sierra Leonean Director-General further proposed that Liberia needs to expedite action to enact into law the Financial Intelligence Agency bill, the draft bill on Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, preventive Measures and Proceeds of Crime, and other outstanding pieces of legislation that could greatly help the country to attract huge global assistance and credible investors.

“Liberia should address the remaining deficiencies in her AML/ CFT system, including criminalization of the full range of predicate offenses (illicit trafficking in other goods,” Mr. Borbor suggested.

He added that Liberia should continuously improve international cooperation in the fight against money laundering and amendments of legal frameworks about evolving Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards and regulations,  coupled with regional collaboration.

Also speaking at the signing ceremony, Edwin W. Harris, Director General of the Financial Intelligence Unit of Liberia, said the weeklong mentoring visit by the Sierra Leonean delegation,  could meaningfully help Liberia to tell her unique AML/CFT stories next year when the country is undergoing the second round of mutual evaluation by the Intergovernmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).

According to him, the expected round of mutual evaluation for Liberia requires the collective effort of all governmental institutions that are members of the competent authorities that are fighting and preventing money laundering and other illicit acts in Liberia.

“This is not an exclusive FIU Liberia initiative, it needs every actor and institution involve to help Liberia get a positive image locally and internationally; after the second round of mutual evaluation by GIABA  to bring donor assistance and credible investments for our country,” he appealed.

The FIU boss further mentioned Liberia is involved in corresponding banking with other countries in Africa and other parts of the world, the country needs to work robustly to fight money laundering and counter-terrorist financing.

“Increased engagement of the media and stakeholders are vital to ensuring public awareness or sensitization about the process, as well as developing public interest to address money laundering and countering terrorist financing issues,” Mr. Harris intoned.

He continues that Liberia has identified her risks and assessed threats, adding that the country stands a better chance to get a brilliant rating after the mutual evaluation when every actor and individual claims ownership about fighting money laundering in Liberia. Source: Smart News Liberia

Main photo: Liberia and MRU signing the declaration…

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