OVER sixty officials from law enforcement agencies and financial intelligence units are meeting in Zambia this week in a workshop to discuss effective ways of collaborating to strengthen their respective capacities in dealing with money laundering.
The meeting takes place in Zambia’s tourist capital Livingstone between …May and….May 2016. During the four days, the participants will discuss and come up with concrete steps to enhance collaboration within and between jurisdictions and to develop customized, focused and comprehensive capacity building programmes.
The meeting was convened by COMESA Secretariat as part of the European Union supported the regional Maritime Security programme (MASE) and it is designed to strengthen the region’s capacity to combat money laundering.
Participants are drawn from the police, public prosecution, anti-corruption and customs authorities representing Ethiopia, Kenya, Eritrea, Madagascar, Seychelles, Mauritius, Djibouti, Comoros, Tanzania and Somalia.
It is part of a programme that was designed by COMESA and three other Regional Economic Communities (RECs) namely the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the East African Community (EAC) and the Indian Ocean Community (IOC).
Speaking in Livingstone, COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya described money laundering as a complex vice that requires good intelligence and collaboration.
“Money laundering is a crime that continues to evolve with criminal’s ever designing new and innovative methods of hiding and laundering their illegally gotten money,” Mr Ngwenya said.
He added that combating the vice will require very good intelligence as well as highly coordinated efforts coupled with strong levels of commitment by all stakeholders.
Meanwhile, Head of Governance, Peace and Security at COMESA Secretariat, Elizabeth Mutunga noted that piracy has reduced significantly over the recent times, and that the programmes remained relevant not only because the threat of piracy is still there but because money laundering is a transactional crime that does not distinguish between predicate offenses.
She said this in her statement with reference to recent remarks by the COMESA Secretary General.
And Mr.Ngwenya emphasized the need to strengthen structures in order to comprehensively address the crime and cited the recent release of the Panama papers to underscore the seriousness of financial crimes globally.
“There is a general observation that financial crime investigation and asset forfeiture are the weakest link in the chain on the fight against money laundering,” Mr. Ngwenya observed.
The regional Maritime Security programme is being implemented by COMESA, the three RECs and supported by Interpol and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) among others is designed to cover all aspects of maritime insecurity with COMESA, addressing the part on disrupting the financial networks of pirate financiers, specifically addressing money laundering.
During the four days, the participants will discuss and come up with concrete steps to enhance collaboration within and between jurisdictions and to develop customized, focused and comprehensive capacity building programmes.