Giaba ILI 2017

Supreme Court Justices and Court of Appeals Judges from Anglophone Member States of
the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA)
[Also pictured: Gerhard Botha and Kim Phan]


The International Law Institute [ILI] was pleased to welcome a delegation of Supreme Court Justices and Court of Appeals Judges from Anglophone Member States of the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa [GIABA] on a Study Tour from August 7 to 11, 2017. The representative countries include Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia.

The seminar focused on Enhancing the Implementation of Robust Anti-money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism [AML/CFT] Measures in West Africa.

The mission of the ILI is to raise the levels of professional competence in all nations so that they may achieve practical solutions to common problems in ways that suit their needs. Through its commitment to fostering prosperity around the globe, the ILI has provided professional training and technical assistance to 31,000 government officials, legal and business professionals, and scholars from 186 countries.

GIABA’s mandate is to build the capacity of relevant officials in its Member States to effectively respond to the risks and threats of economic and financial crime, particularly money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Since 2008 GIABA has, in line with this mandate, organized nine Regional Capacity Building Seminars on Economic and Financial Crime for superior court judges responsible for the adjudication of cases involving economic and financial crimes in their respective countries.

Participants in these seminars recommended that Member States of GIABA should consider organizing international study tours in countries with judicial systems that are advanced in prosecuting economic and financial crimes. These study tours would allow the judges to collaborate with their counterparts in the host countries and discuss best practices. Consequently, the ILI is honored to have been selected to host the International Study Tour for Judges of Anglophone GIABA Member States.

Economic and financial crimes and their effects on global communities’ peace and security have become issues of great significance within the international community, and the West African region is no exception. Research studies conducted by GIABA have shown that despite an alarmingly high rate of criminal activity in GIABA Member States, few convictions have been made for such offenses. In addition, confiscation of the proceeds of crime and recovery of stolen assets are minimal.

Weakness in legislation is partly responsible for the present situation, but other contributing factors include lack of judicial independence resulting from undue executive influence, an elementary understanding of economic and financial crime and comprehensive investigation methods, social tolerance to corruption, and fear of retribution.

In order to address these findings, the specific topics covered within the seminar in addition to anti-money laundering included corruption, cybercrime, human trafficking, migrants smuggling, racketeering, financing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and international initiatives adopted to combat these criminal activities.

Several high level speakers addressed the group, including officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, the International Monetary Fund, attorneys from the law firm of Wily Rein LLP, and members of the Judiciary. The group was also hosted by the US District Court in Baltimore.

According to Gina Wood, Legal Officer of GIABA, the Study Tour provided the judges with a wealth of knowledge - derived from both content and the quality of facilitation - that will assist in their effective adjudication of cases on economic and financial crime. “The judges are extremely grateful to GIABA and the ILI for making this possible,” she says.

The ILI looks forward to future cooperation with GIABA and values the opportunity to assist GIABA in its important work.

By: Surovi Bain