Launch of the Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for West Africa "ARIN-WA"

Like many regions around the world, West Africa is prone to various forms of illicit trafficking, embezzlement of public funds and corruption. The growing sophistication of criminal networks, combined with insufficient resources and expertise of investigators, are some of the many obstacles that make it difficult to quell these criminal activities.

In order to provide effective responses through specialized investigations and regional cooperation, UNODC's Global Programme against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML) organized a regional workshop from 24 to 27 November 2014 in Accra, Ghana, which officially established the Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for West Africa (ARIN-WA).

This event brought together 47 representatives from all ECOWAS countries, as well as Sao Tomé & Principé, with the view to reiterate the benefit of an ARIN-types network for the West African region. The meeting was an opportunity for participants to work on case examples and practical exercises in groups and to share best practices in identifying, seizing, confiscating and managing proceeds of crimes. The discussions were also enhanced by experts from Portugal, South Sudan, Brazil and France, each representing an ARIN-type regional network.

Participants during the event which took place in Accra, Ghana on 24-27 November 2014

The four-day meeting was opened by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, in the presence of the Director General of GIABA (Inter Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa). The debates focused on issues of domestic coordination and especially, on how to improve its effectiveness in the area of asset management. Building on the outcomes of group discussions, the workshop aimed at setting a number of recommendations on how to improve the effectiveness of coordination mechanisms, regionally and at the national level, with a focus on the role played by designated national Focal Points of ARIN-WA, as well as on the interaction with other existing networks.

The event was organised with the financial support of the Government of France and of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), as well as with the support of the Kingdom of Denmark through UNODC's Sahel Programme. The event was implemented together with the EU-Anti Money Laundering in West Africa Project (Cocaine Route Programme) and the Ghana Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC).

Participants attending the opening ceremony of the meeting

A resolution of the ARIN-WA network was approved at the end of the meeting and the delegations of Ghana and Ivory Coast have volunteered to provide respectively the Presidency and the new network Secretariat, which will hold the next meeting in 2015. Last week's meeting followed a feasibility study conducted in 2013 and is a follow-up to a first regional workshop on seizure, confiscation and management of proceeds of crime held in Senegal in March 2014.

Since the setting-up of the Camden Asset Recovery Interagency Network - CARIN in September 2004, UNODC has been advocating an asset-oriented approach to crime which encourages law enforcement and the judiciary to focus on the proceeds generated by illicit activities rather than the object and instrumentalities of crime.

For more information:

UNODC on money-laundering and countering the financing of terrorism