GIABA SENSITIZES RELIGIOUS LEADERS IN BENIN ON ANTI- MONEY LAUNDERING AND COUNTER-FINANCING OF TERROISM
The Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) organized a 2–day National Sensitization Seminar for Religious Leaders and Institutions on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) in Cotonou, the Republic of Benin. The event took place at Benin Royal Hotel, Cotonou from 11 to 12 May 2022.
The objective of the seminar is to raise the awareness level of religious leaders on the ills of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (ML/TF), their vulnerabilities to these scourges, and their role in the fight against them. This engagement will help in building strong partnership with Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) on actionable points to curb violent extremism and promote peaceful co-existence in the society.
A total of 45 participants, consisting of religious leaders from different FBOS in all the zones of the Republic of Benin participated in the seminar. It is obvious that faith appeals to people on emotional levels and gives voice to a wide range of community concerns. Using persuasion as a strategy, religious leaders need to understand what specific contribution they can, and must, make to overcoming the menace of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing and transforming public understanding, attitudes, and behaviour.
The seminar was declared opened by the Hon. Minister of Interior and Public Security represented by its Secretary-General, Mr. Delphin TOKPON. According to him, Benin has moved from threat to reality, hence the urgent need to stand up against these crimes in order to preserve the national economy and public safety.
The Director of FIU and GIABA National Correspondent for Benin, Mr Celestin KPONNON and Director-General of GIABA ably represented by the Director of Evaluation and Compliance, GIABA, Dr Buno Nduka delivered the welcoming and opening remarks respectively. Also present at the event was the Director of Cabinet in the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises and Employment Promotion, Mr. Edouard SEHLIN who represented the Minister and delivered the goodwill message.
The seminar was delivered by experts and GIABA faculty through discussions and presentations of the theme, entitled “The Role of Religious Leaders in Preventing Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing; Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Risks and Vulnerabilities Associated with Religious Organizations; Religious Institutions as a Tool for Promotion of Peaceful Co-Existence; and Promoting Tolerance and Preventing Violent Extremism’ amongst other presentations.
At the end of the session, participants issued a communiqué with the following recommendations to help in the fight against ML/TF ;
- To continue to advocate against corruption and utilize methods beyond worship, with the emphasis on hard work and service.
- To undertake more frequent sensitization and awareness programs for faith-based organizations.
- To educate their congregations, based on appropriate religious messages and teachings that emphasize behavioral practices that promote godliness and abstinence from crimes, especially money laundering and its predicate offences.
Participants commended the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS for the establishment of GIABA. They recognized and commended the mandate of the institution to protect the national economy and financial systems of member States from the laundering of proceeds of crimes.