Lusaka, Monday, March 4, 2019: Rising sophistication of financial crimes especially money laundering and terrorism financing necessitates greater inter-agency collaboration and regional partnerships.
Countries that faces higher incidences of terror attacks have particularly been responsive to regional initiatives, such as the COMESA Maritime Security (MASE) programme, which deal with Anti Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT).
As an occasional target of terror, Kenya has been working actively with COMESA under the Regional Maritime Security Programme (MASE) in implementing customized capacity building interventions to respond to the gaps as identified by the authorities. The aim is to deepen understanding of AML/CFT laws by all relevant stakeholders, their respective obligations and various techniques used in money laundering and financing of terrorism.
The latest capacity building workshop took place at Kenya’s South Coast town of Diani on 26 – 28 February 2019. It brought together a wide cross section of border management agencies and Financial Reporting Center and enforcement agencies that work at various land and sea border posts.
Participants were drawn from internal security, immigration, police, airports and ports authorities, asset recovery units, anti-counterfeit, and revenue authorities among others,
The Director General of the Financial Reporting Center (FRC) in Kenya Mr. Maika Saitoti, who opened the workshop stressed the need for collaboration among the various agencies that support the strengthening of anti-money laundering and combating terrorism regime initiatives.
“The strength of the Kenyan Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism regime is determined by the weakest stakeholder in the link,” Mr. Saitoti said in statement presented by the Head of Legal Compliance and External Relations, Mr. James Manyonge.
The Head of Governance, Peace and Security of COMESA Ms. Elizabeth Mutunga informed the delegates that financial institutions in most of the countries implementing the MASE programme have put in place reasonable measures for identification and making it difficult for unscrupulous dealers to easily use the financial systems, thus shifting illicit proceeds through porous borders.
“Criminals take advantage of unaware/unsuspecting border officials to perpetrate crime including moving their dirty money from one country to another,” Ms. Mutunga said and lauded the Kenyan authorities for identifying the need and priority to strengthen capacity of border officials.
Ms. Mutunga emphasized the importance of ensuring that different countries have adequately developed their AML/CFT regimes. If this does not happen, she said, the crime will move from the stronger to the weaker regimes hence the importance of a regional programme.
Through the training, the border officials are expected to have a better understanding of the manifestation of illicit flows and money laundering at their respective work stations and thus increase the identification of suspicious transactions. Such information will then be shared with the FRC for analysis and further dissemination of intelligence to the law enforcement agencies for investigation and prosecution.