The Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), Mr Kwaku Dua, has called for the strengthening of inter-agency co-operation to ensure the effective surveillance of the maritime environment.
That, he said,was to help combat the challenge of maritime crimes faced in the region.
The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime defined maritime crimes as conducts perpetrated wholly or partly at sea and is prohibited under applicable national and international law.
Mr Dua made the call at a workshop held to validate the findings of the national research report on maritime criminality in Accra on Thursday.
The report was under the Support of West Africa Integrated Maritime Security (SWAIMS) research study, which sought to assess and understand how money laundering, terrorist financing and illicit financial flows were linked to maritime criminality in the Gulf of Guinea.
The target countries of the research included Ghana, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria and Togo
The workshop was organised by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA)in collaboration with the SWAIMSTechnical Assistance Team (TAT) under the European Union (EU) funded SWAIMS project.
Mr Dua said the study was crucial because of the need to “understand the methods and techniques used by criminals to launder their proceeds so as to put in place mechanisms to deny these people from benefitting from these crimes”.
He indicated that tax evasion, trade-misinvoicing, piracy, robbery, drug trafficking and human trafficking were identified as some of the most prevalent issues in the country’s maritime framework.
Mr Dua therefore used the opportunity to thank the organisers for the initiative and urged stakeholders to work together to validate the study and agree on strategies to adopt to strengthen efforts aimed at curbing the menace.
The Director of Policy and Research, GIABA, Mu’azuUmaru, said the study sought to provide relevant recommendations that could be implemented to disrupt the financial circuits of maritime criminality and other associated challenges in the region.
As such, he said the workshop would enlighten stakeholders on the report,allow them make their inputs and make way for corrections to be done where necessary.
Mr Umaru said similar workshops would be held in all other targeted countries to complement and improve the reports which would form the bases of a regional report.
Dr Axel Klein, Team Leader, SWAIMS, said the workshop would inform policy and practice in future, hence the need for stakeholders to play their roles effectively by contributing towards moving from analyses into practice and application of recommendations.
Head of Governance and Security Section, EU, Anna Lixi, said the union welcomed the study as there was the need for all stakeholders in the country to better understand how the financial proceeds from different forms of maritime crime entered the economy.
“Better analysis and research into these areas can help inform the intelligence and operational activities of Ghanaian law enforcement agencies,” she added.
BY ABIGAIL ARTHUR