COMBATING MONEY LAUNDERING IN WEST AFRICA

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) defined money laundering as the method by which criminals disguise the illegal origins of their wealth and protect their asset basis, so as to avoid the suspicion of law enforcement agencies and prevent leaving a trail of incriminating.

Such wealth may originate from the illicit sale of merchandise which throws nations, bodies and communities out of gear.  We have in mind such merchandise as guns, ammunition, other sophisticated weaponry which may be used to destabilise countries and throw the citizenry and geo-political areas into wars, internal displacement, emigration and famine, and uncertain futures.

Perpetrators may also deal in such narcotic drugs as cannabis (marijuana), crack, cocaine, amphetamines, alcohol and other steroids which are inimical to human health, and throw people, especially the youth into such ailments as mental derangement and make them security risks to the larger communities and immediate families.

That this trade is business cannot be overemphasised.  In such areas as Latin America, those who deal in them on large quantities are known as kinpins, who place key roles in installing governments, and overthrowing governments, causers of consternation and therefore epitomes of all that is evil.

They have fat accounts from which they draw monies to fund their nefarious and criminal activities, thus throwing the economies of countries out of gear, and having the security agencies at their beck and call. While populations are at their mercy!

With our limitations as countries in Africa and West Africa in particular, members of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) cannot stand these economic and political saboteurs if they should make inroads into our ranks.

We have not yet overcome fully the onslaught of wars in Sierra Leone, Liberia and La Cote d’Ivoire. As we write there is political uncertainty in Togo. Ebola has done its devastation, and over the past few days, mud slides have resulted in death in Sierra Leone and Guinea.  So we cannot and should not harbor criminals in our countries and allow them to subject us to their volumes and caprices with their cash. Nigeria continues to bathe Boko Haram which has wrecked havoc on the country with the killing of huge numbers of people.

That is why we find the call to members of ECOWAS to adopt stringent measures to affectively combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other cross-border criminalities apt and timely.

Member states should heed the warning by the inter-Governmental Action group Against Money  laundering in West  Africa (GIABA), and act upon it with dispatch because the inability of one state to address the issues raised above would compromise the overall security of the sub-region.  This could be done through information and intelligence gathering and sharing, measures against cross-border trade of illicit drugs, vigilance and diligence at the boarders and control, if not the total abolition of trade in arms and ammunition and  any other commodities likely to throw the populace, especially the youth into opprobrium and anarchy.

Countries should also work hand-hand to neutralise terrorists, extremists, religious fanatics and bigots likely to be financed from illegal sources to visit mayhem on the citizenry.

The call by the Deputy Director-General of GIABA, Mr Brian Anku Sapati, must therefore, be taken seriously, and measures taken to avert any catastrophe the forces of evil are likely to subject the sub-region to; we cannot stand their ill-gotten wealth and enter into contests with them; indeed they must even be treated with almost contempt.

The GIABA has spoken, and the Ghanaian Times hopes those concerned would listen to it.

 

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