The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia called for a strong regulatory environment and a robust financial compliance system to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing activities in the sub-region.
“Our continent has been denied funds of up to approximately $88 billion through illicit financial flows, as reported by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 2020, largely through financial institutions, multinational corporations and wealthy individuals doing business. in Africa,” he added.
He said these outflows, if reduced, could be channeled into development projects and rebuilding economies.
Dr. Bawumia said so in a speech read on his behalf by Senior Presidential Advisor, Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo during the closing ceremony of the 36th meeting of the Group against Money Laundering in East Africa. West (GIABA)/Technical Commission/plenary in Accra last Saturday.
The three-day meeting served as a forum for a discussion among technical experts on the threats and challenges associated with money laundering and terrorist financing in the West African sub-region.
The Vice President said that money laundering and terrorist financing continued to pose a huge threat to global socio-economic development and peace and that the Economic Community of East African States region West (ECOWAS) was no exception.
“Currently, being a major region of concern regarding terrorist financing and recent activities, Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso and the failed attempt in Guinea-Bissau,” he added.
Dr. Bawumia stressed the need to strengthen collaboration among Member States to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
He said the region is endowed with enormous resources and that “our ability to harness them effectively will go a long way towards improving the socio-economic well-being of our people.”
“We have a responsibility to stop the flow of illicit finance, which will instead reduce the outflow of funds to these groups, channeling them towards our development and recovery,” he added.
He commended GIABA for building the capacity of member States in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing in the sub-region.
Dr. Bawumia assured GIABA of Ghana’s commitment to combating money laundering and terrorist financing in West Africa and beyond.
Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said UNCTAD estimated that of the $31.5 billion in illicit financial flows (IFFs) generated annually in conflict areas, 96% was used by groups organized criminals, including violent conflict.
“It is estimated that 2-5% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), or between 800 billion and 2,000 billion current US dollars, is lost due to money laundering worldwide. This amount represents almost 120% GDP of the ECOWAS region,” he added.
Mr. Ofori-Atta said there was an urgent need for concerted efforts by all relevant stakeholders to help reduce the source of funding for these terrorist groups.
The Minister said that Member States must ensure that appropriate institutional frameworks and mechanisms are in place to ensure that they do not lose in international business transactions, do not suffer significant capital losses and do not do not channel development funds into terrorist activities.
The Director General of GIABA, Justice Kimelabalou ABA, commended President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as President of ECOWAS for the initiatives aimed at developing a lasting solution to the current problems in the region.
He said the meeting was taking place at a delicate time when the region was witnessing the upsurge of military coups which had a negative impact on all measures aimed at combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
Judge ABA said that an effective legal and institutional regime to combat money laundering and terrorist financing protects financial systems and the economy in general against threats of money laundering, terrorist financing and of proliferation, which in turn improves the integrity of the financial sector and enhances the security and safety of our Member States.