Liberia: Religious Leaders Discuss Anti-Money Laundering


MONROVIA – Religious community of both Christians and Muslims are meeting in Monrovia in a two-day sensitization seminar on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism.

The program is organized by Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).

It is the expectation of the organizers that the seminar will serve as a “springboard” for a renewed commitment of all religious and opinion leaders to identify the key roles they must play in raising awareness and shaping the morals of their congregations and followers through the force of moral persuasive messages.

Mr. Edwin w. Harris Jr, director general of GIABA, in his opening remarks, said; “Without pre-empting the resource persons assembled to lead discussions at this seminar, it is a common belief that religious leaders wield considerable influence among their followers. This is an evidence of potential influence of moral persuasion, which could be channeled to increase the good of society,” he said.

“We must be bold to speak the truth at all times, speak against evil, drive the good path, counsel the bad, and report obvious destructive evil to the appropriate authority, where necessary. If we must rid society of these wrongdoings, then, we must continue to stand as the shining light and examples which we are; we must resist all the negative influences and help in guiding the path of our followers in building a safe and secure society.”

According to him, in promoting peaceful coexistence, the voice of our religious leaders must be strongly heard against violent extremism, terrorism, corruption, human trafficking, kidnapping and other predicate offenses. And that, they must not only be heard, but must be seen leading the way by action and exemplary lifestyles.

“I must say here, though, that this is not a task for the religious leaders alone. GIABA is also interacting with and building the capacity of other stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, financial institutions, designated non-financial businesses and professions, the media, youth and women groups and civil society organisations. This implies that all hands must be on deck for us to achieve the desirable outcomes.”

What is GIABA?

GIABA is a specialized Institution of ECOWAS, as well as a FATF-style Regional Body (FSRB) for West Africa. It was established in r 2000 by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, with the mandate to protect the economies of member States from the laundering of the proceeds of crimes and combat terrorist financing (TF). 

To this end, GIABA works to ensure that member States comply with acceptable International Standards on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT). 

As an FSRB, GIABA undertakes mutual evaluations – a peer review mechanism for assessing the level of technical compliance and effectiveness of member States’ AML/CFT systems with International Standards. 

GIABA also conducts valuable researches and typologies exercises to identify the various Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing trends and methods in order to strengthen preventive and enforcement efforts.

 Some of the components of GIABA’s core mandates includes: Ensuring the implementation of AML/CFT standards, in compliance with acceptable International Standards and practices, including the FATF 40.