The inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA)’s GIABA’s Director General, Kimelabalou Aba gave hint yesterday that the global experience has shown that criminals have now resorted to capturing govermental power and at the end collapse the entire system By orchestrating irresolvable crisis.
Aba said this in a speech he delivered at the “regional capacity building workshop for law enforcement agencies on promoting best practices on structure, investigation and techniques of criminal asset seizure, freezing, confiscation, recoveries, management in compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions”
The workshop was put together by the GIABA in collaboration with the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and the European Union.
Aba, who was represented by a Director in GIABA, Buno Nduka noted that global efforts to combat financial crime now focus on dispossession of criminals of the proceeds of their illicit activities with the ultimate aim of taking the profit out of crime by deploying tools for forfeiture and recovery of tainted assets.
According to Aba, “One of the critical ways in ensuring that criminals do not take control of our financial systems, capture governmental powers and ultimately collapse them is to deprive the criminals of the proceeds of their criminal activities.
“This should be done through the confiscation and recovery of tainted property. The strategy of depriving criminals of the profits of crime through asset recovery is particularly useful in combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism and must be government priority.
“A robust system of provisional measures and confiscation is an important part of an effective anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regime.
“Confiscation of proceeds of crime prevents such criminal property from being laundered or reinvested either to facilitate other forms of crime or to conceal illicit proceeds,” Aba said.
The President of The Community Court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Justice Edward Asante advocated for enhanced international collaborations if countries of the sub-region were to succeed in the war against financial crimes and terrorism financing.
Justice Asante, who assured of his court’s continued support for the fight against crimes and injustice in the sub-region, urged member states to always obey the court’s decisions and to increase the number of its judges.
He called for an urgent review of the statutes of GIABA, noting that “We need structures with more legitimacy and greater capacity to deal with investigations, prosecutions and possible seizures, freezing, confiscation and recovery of assets and proceeds of transnational crimes.”
This is just as the Federal Government disclosed that it will now emphasise the seizure of proceeds of corruption and other financial crimes as a measure to further strengthen its anti-graft strategies.
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), who disclosed this in Abuja, said adoption of the measure was informed by the realisation that criminals prefer imprisonment to losing their illegally acquired wealth.
Malami said this in a speech he sent to the “regional capacity building workshop for law enforcement agencies on promoting best practices on structure, investigation and techniques of criminal asset seizure, freezing, confiscation, recoveries, management in compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolutions.”
The workshop was put together by the Inter-Government Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).
Malami said: “We cannot over emphasise the importance of criminal assets confiscation or forfeiture; besides the redistribution of wealth from the criminals to legitimate use, criminal assets forfeiture can be used as a veritable means to control criminal behaviour as well as a means of deterrence against crime and as a measure of punishment for criminals.
“Many criminals fear the loss of their money and other illegally acquired wealth more than they fear the prospect of a jail term.
“Assets confiscation and forfeiture can be used to take away the benefit from the crime, as no one has the right to retain the money or property gained from illegality.
“It has been noted that when you separate the criminal from the profit that motivated him to commit the crime, you will also be removing the incentives that may propel others to commit a similar offence.
“It is indisputable that when criminal assets are recovered and used to enhance the capacities of law enforcement agencies or other relevant government agencies, the ability of the law enforcement agencies to combat organised criminal activities will be enhanced.”
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