Strengthening the fight against money-laundering and terrorism financing in Niger

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The Sahel region is increasingly affected by transnational organized crime, violent extremism, and terrorism-halting their financing should be States' paramount priority to prevent and fight these phenomena.

From 11 to 13 October 2016, UNODC organized a national workshop for reporting entities on combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism (ML/FT), through its Global Programme against Money-Laundering, the Proceeds of Crime and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML). The event was made possible through the financial support of the Government of Luxembourg and the logistical support of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Niger.

29 representatives from financial and non-financial sectors (i.e. Bank, microfinance, lawyers, notaries, house of change, transfer agencies, real estate, insurance, etc.) took part to this three-day workshop which aimed at raising awareness on their role in combatting ML/FT. The workshop was opened by Mrs. Tchimaden SANADY, President of the FIU, who welcomed this event and in particular its timing. Indeed, Niger is implementing its national risk assessment in line with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). During this assessment, reporting entities will be involved in order to identify the national risks and vulnerabilities related to each of their sector of activities.

The group of participants after the workshop
The group of participants after the workshop

The Representative of the Government of Luxembourg, Eric DIETZ, highlighted how essential the fight against ML/FT is for the Sahel region, where borders are porous and economy is based on cash. He insisted on the roles that each reporting entity needs to play, in particular by reporting a suspicious transaction to the FIU. These entities can make the first step towards more convictions on ML/FT cases. It should be noted that Niger secured its first and only conviction in a money-laundering case in 2015. To date, no conviction was pronounced in a terrorist financing case.

Key documents were presented to participants: the new AML/CFT decree-law transposing the regional directive (currently under examination at the Parliament to become a law), and the form to report suspicious transaction. Only ten (10) participants out of 29 had seen the form before the workshop and five (5) already used it to report a suspicious transaction.

Exercises were done in group, working on identifying money laundering methods and how to search online names of terrorists or terrorist groups (UN list). Representatives of the banking sector were aware such information existed, while other representatives (e.g. real estate) had never heard of these lists (UN, OFAC, etc.).

The workshop was closed by the President of the FIU who hopes that thanks to this workshop, more suspicious transaction reports will be sent to the FIU by the different beneficiaries of the training. To date, mostly the banking sector has been reporting suspicious transactions.

In their evaluation forms, all the participants highlighted the relevance of the training for their daily activities. They indicated that from now on, they will be more careful regarding cash transactions and other money transfers as well as identities of clients. All the participants indicated they will share the knowledge and skills acquired during the workshop with their colleagues.