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Antananarivo, Monday, August 7, 2016: COMESA is assisting its member States to strengthen the analytical capacity of their Financial Intelligence Units through capacity building initiatives and provision of hardware and software. The aim is to boost their financial security access system and surveillance.

The initiative is being implemented by COMESA under the Maritime Security (MASE) regional programme which is financed by the European Union through the 10 European Development Fund (EDF 11). The MASE programme aims at fighting against money laundering and financial crimes in the region

Madagascar has so far been the highest beneficiaries of the programme which includes support to join the Eastern and Southern Anti-Money Laundering Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) and alignment of its laws. This is in addition to infrastructure and telecommunications enhancement for its Financial Intelligence Unit, known as SAMIFIN.

On Monday, August 8, 2016, COMESA Secretariat conducted a sensitization workshop for Anti Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) in Madagascar. It targeted stakeholders’ institutions involved in combating Money Laundering/Terrorist Financing.

Madagascar Minister of Justice, Charles Andriamiseza opened the workshop with a call for joint efforts by all member States to fight money laundering if the battle has to be won.

“It is not possible for a single country to fight the vice single handedly because the crimes have no respect for borders,” the Minister said. “There is no country that can escape from Money laundering/Terrorist Financing, which is a common challenge in the 20th century hence, the need to join hands in this global fight. Madagascar is not exceptional and cannot escape this,” Mr Andriamiseza said.

Besides training Madagascar Financial Intelligence Unit, (SAMIFIN) COMESA will also provide assorted information communication technology equipment including computers, servers and software valued at over USD 100,000.

The Minister said the opening up of Madagascar to the international arena gives the country an opportunity for development and forging of future partnerships which are cardinal to the fight against Money Laundering/Terrorist Financing in the country, the COMESA region and the world at large.

He assured the workshop participants that the government has put in place systems to fight corruption and other financial crimes with the adoption of the Anti-Corruption law by parliament and conviction of Money Laundering/Terrorist Financing related crimes.

“Madagascar’s commitment to adhere to the ESAAMLG membership and other legal frameworks to assist in stolen assets recovery are examples of the government’s commitment,” the Minister said.

The Head of Governance, Peace and Security at the COMESA Secretariat, Ms. Elizabeth Mutunga, emphasized the importance of strong commitment by the governments, strong and efficient institutions and a high level of coordination among the stakeholders to curb money laundering/terrorism financing.

“We applaud the government of Madagascar for its strong commitment to fight money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism and for the measures that have been put in place to eliminate the vice which is detrimental to national and regional development,” Ms Mutunga said.

She emphasized the importance of aligning AML/CFT laws to international standards as outlined by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that ensures all countries have laws and regulations that are aligned to international standards given transnational nature of the crime.

The Director of SAMIFIN, Lamina Bototsaradi said the country had significantly benefited from the MASE programme and in particular on ICT enhancement and support in facilitating its application to become full members of ESAAMLG.