The Director General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), Dr. Abdullahi Shehu, has said that developing countries lost about US$858.6 billion – $1.6 trillion in illicit financial flows in year 2006.
Shehu, who made the disclosure in a keynote address at a workshop held in Lokoja, Kogi State for elected officials of Local Government administration, said the amount has further stressed the need for a concerted fight against money laundering in Africa.
According to a statement by the communication assistant for GIABA, Mohammed Usman, the Director General, who spoke on the topic: ‘Democracy, Good Governance and the Challenges of Development’, added that if the fight against money laundering succeeded, it would promote democracy, good governance as well as international peace and security in the world.
He noted that, “Terrorists and extremist organizations, drug cartels and the trafficking of human beings are seriously affecting human security in developing and developed economies alike.
“The 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA have brought to the attention of the world the global reach of the extremist organizations and the frightening consequences of their actions concerning personal safety, peace and security in the world, potential tensions among different segments of the society, and pressures on the state institutions.
He identified colonisation, discrimination, low level of education, and a large population, among the causes of poverty, lamenting that negative structural factors, such as lack of government support, neglect of educational development, health care and poor economic infrastructure have also contributed strongly to the persistence of poverty in developing countries.
Shehu stated that the establishment of GIABA was part of the renewed efforts to develop strategies for the prevention of money laundering and its predicate offences and to assist member States to implement those strategies to protect their economies from misuse for the purposes of laundering the proceeds of crime, including the financing of terrorism.
The GIABA director general opined that democracy and good governance were key elements to end poverty in Africa, towards improving the standard of living of the citizenry in the continent.
A gesture, he added could be achieved through responsive and participatory democracy, respect for human rights, freedom of expression, rule of law, free and fair election, viable opposition and a free and independent press to ensure that checks and balances were enshrined in the system.