By Binta Jaiteh
Five-day regional forum on money laundering and terrorist financing risks liked to the travel and tourism industry and real estate sector in West Africa funded by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) opened at the Coco Ocean Hotel on Tuesday.
Mr. Alagi Darboe, Director General Financial Intelligence Unit of The Gambia calls for the need for collective expertise and experience to develop strategies that will safeguard financial and economic systems, and protect societies from the threat of money laundering and terrorist financing.
He described the real estate sector, the travel and tourism industry as attractive avenues for money laundering due to their high-value transaction, noting their potential for anonymity and complex ownership strictures.
Mr. Darboe disclosed that The Gambia has taken a step to address some of the concerns related to the real estate sector and this was done between 2027- 2019.
He added that The Gambia conducted a national risk assessment (NRA) where the real estate sector was assessed ad found to be awarding high risk of money laundering.
According to him, some steps were taken in line with the risk-based approach to supervising these sectors to ensure compliance with AML/CFT requirements.
He stated that recently FIU AML/CFT supervision for some of the players in the real estate sector, adding that this sector was largely unsupervised neither for prudential nor for AML/CFT purposes as there to be no designated regulator, hence the inherent risks and vulnerabilities.
He also said that discussions have commenced to find a way of regulating and supervising this sector and FIU will continue the discussion as well as continue the supervisory measures it has started.
He disclosed that FIU’s engagement with the Gambia Tourism Board has also commenced for the supervision of casinos, which is a key sub-sector in the travel and tourism industry whose activities have a significant impact on money laundering and terrorist financing.