UNODC assists Mali to develop its anti-money-laundering system

23 March 2009 - In recent years, transnational organized crime in West Africa has become a major international concern. In his statement to an October 2008 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) conference, UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa warned that the region was "at risk of becoming an epicentre for drug trafficking and the crime and corruption associated with it."

This concern is also taken seriously by the majority of West African countries, which are facing its disastrous impact on their economy and the integrity of their political and judicial institutions. As tackling money-laundering is an important step to reduce organized crime, nine years ago, ECOWAS established a specialized institution, the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA). The institution's main task is to coordinate national efforts in combating money-laundering and the financing of terrorism.

As part of its response to fight the financial aspects of organized crime and illicit trafficking, the Government of Mali adopted comprehensive anti-money-laundering legislation in December 2006 and established a Financial Intelligence Unit last year. Financial Intelligence Units generally receive, analyse and process reports required from financial institutions or persons referred to in national anti-money-laundering legislation.

Early last year, the World Bank and GIABA assessed Malian anti-money-laundering and combating the financing of terrorism legislation to identify the country's main vulnerabilities to these crimes. Shortly thereafter, UNODC conducted an evaluation to collect information and data with regard to organized crime trends and to assess the operational capacities of the relevant institutions. This resulted in a report, Organized crime and illicit trafficking in Mali, which was endorsed by the Government of Mali and includes an integrated programme to address drug trafficking and organized crime.

In the context of this programme, UNODC and the Mali Financial Intelligence Unit arranged an awareness-raising seminar on combating money-laundering and financing of terrorism in Bamako last month. This event, which was organized with the support of the French government, brought together representatives from the main financial institutions, law enforcement and judicial sectors, as well as other relevant professions. The seminar focused on the requirements of the various stakeholders involved, which were illustrated through practical case examples.


Read more about UNODC's work against money-laundering.