The Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) provided sensitisation to Judges, Prosecutors and Law Enforcement Officers from ECOWAS member States on Economic and Financial Crimes at a 5 – day Regional Capacity Building Workshop held in Abuja, Nigeriafrom 12 – 15 December, 2016.
The objective of the workshop was to enhance the capacity and skills of the superior court judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers of the participating member States to deal with the substantive legal issues and facilitate the implementation of AML/CFT legislation. Furthermore, the workshop was intended to sensitize the participants on international developments in combating economic and financial crimes, and to foster experience sharing with their counterparts, as well as consider regional and international legal frameworks and best practices in the area of economic and financial crimes.
Within the framework of its mandate to support member States in the implementation of AML/CFT measures of acceptable international standards, GIABA has been organizing regional capacity building seminars on economic and financial crimes since 2008. The aim of this programme is to address the gaps identified in the Mutual Evaluation Reports and Follow-up Reports of GIABA member States, which revealed that the number of money laundering and terrorist financing convictions in the region remains low and a considerable number of GIABA member States are yet to obtain a money laundering conviction.
The workshop focused on investigation, prosecution and adjudication of cases relative to money laundering and financing of terrorism; seizing and freezing and other provisional measures concerning proceeds of crime and assets linked to terrorism, forfeiture of criminal proceeds; international cooperation, including mutual assistance; money laundering and terrorist finance typologies; and techniques for successful adjudication of AML/CFT cases.
The Workshop was delivered by experts and GIABA faculty through hands-on case reviews, syndicate group discussions and presentation of country experiences.
At the end of the session, participants issued a communiqué with the following recommendations to help in the adjudication of money laundering and terrorist financing cases;
- Member States should effectively implement AML/CFT legislations;
- Co-operation and coordination are necessary elements for effective AML/CFT regimes and the trans-border nature of the money laundering necessitates implementation of measures that would enhance effective international cooperation. In this regard, GIABA should develop a harmonised policy on national cooperation to assist member States enhance inter-agency cooperation and collaboration;
- Member States should strengthen dialogue between criminal justice system institutions responsible for AML/CFT, particularly the FIU, the Police and the Judiciary;
- Criminal justice officers should make maximum use of new technologies, including the use of video link for judicial cooperation to ensure expeditious adjudication of cases;
- Investigators should develop new techniques of investigation in relation to their sociological environment;
- Computerization of processes (including taking of evidence and case management) to facilitate the collection of evidence in ML/TF investigations should be enhanced;
- Member States should put in place measures, including legislative measures, to respond to the delays in the disposal of cases in order to improve the efficiency of the criminal justice system;
- Member States should strengthen the capacities of investigating magistrates and judges through the specialization or the creation of specialized AML/CFT courts and institutions; and
Member States should consider establishing Joint Task Forces comprising LEAs and the FIU to investigate ML/TF and other related cases.