In an effort to verify report that two of Liberia’s leading foreign owned banking institutions were reportedly linked to ‘Money Laundering and Terrorism’ for the past weeks, a team of investigative journalists including a staff of one of Liberia’s widely browse online newspapers, the www.gnnliberia.com, have launched a vigorous professional investigation aimed finding out the facts surrounding this report.
In part of one of this report, information gathered by our team of investigative journalists over the past weeks with documents disclosed that some banks including the Guaranty Trust Bank (Liberia) Limited a subsidiary of Guaranty Trust Bank plc have been accused of accepting the opening of several accounts by individuals linked to Money Laundering who are operating fake companies under the canopy of doing businesses in Liberia.
According to the investigation, these individuals and their companies were blacklisted by the United States Treasury Department for using US currencies to commit financial crime in Liberia and other countries, linking GT Bank Liberia Limited who has reportedly been considered as one of the accomplices to aide these individuals in facilitating this global crime, money laundering to finance terrorism around the world.
The investigation further discovered that these individuals believed to me money launderers with their based in Lebanon have opened several companies in Liberia under the canopy of doing genuine businesses but instead the names of these businesses are changed overnight after the mutative is achieved.
Despite efforts to blacklist these companies, the banks in question in Liberia are still doing business with them, while at the same time, sources closed to these banks some executives of the banks concern are on a monthly basis receives $22,000.00 under the pretense of loans, this was also discovered this is being used as a cover-up in continuation of keeping their accounts lively at these banks.
Our investigation has also discovered that several fake companies including the Sky trading, Dolphin Trading and Sierra Fishing owned by individuals believed to be money launderers are usually in the habit of changing the name of these companies and bringing in other in order to continue their activities of Money Laundering.
Effort by our team of journalists to ascertain the facts relating to this report from the management of GT Bank, official at that bank usually give cold-shoulder to journalists with the notion that nothing will never come out of this report.
Recently, the head of Liberia’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) challenged Liberian Legislature to support anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) initiatives in Liberia.
Alex Cuffy called on the Legislature to enact AML/CFT laws and provide resources for sectoral stakeholders through budgetary appropriations and legislative representation or advocacy.
“If I am doing my work, the legislative branch or House of Representatives has the powers to check on me. You are also admonished to attend some of these AML/CFT workshops, conferences and forums so that you can be better acquainted with these things,” he told plenary on May 3, 2018.
Cuffy said the FIU will work with House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, Deputy Speaker Prince Moye, Chief Clerk Mildred N. Sayon and committees on security, judiciary, foreign affairs and ways, means, finance and development planning.
Since its creation by a 2012 act of the legislature (approved on April 30, 2013 and publish on May 2, 2013) as the national agency responsible for receiving, requesting, conducting preliminary investigations, analyzing and disseminating information to competent authority concerning suspected proceeds of crime and terrorist property, Cuffy told the lawmakers that the FIU has improved the negative reputation of Liberia with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the world’s governing body on AML/CFT activities in Paris, France.
The FIU’s vision is to build a well-equipped unit dedicated to an effective AML/CFT regime and protect Liberia financial system from abuse of financial and economic crime for the enhancement of national, regional and global peace and economic stability.
“We have also recently been able to improve the problems we had with correspondent banking relationship. If you heard, few months ago, Liberia was losing almost all the correspondent banks. And when you don’t have correspondent banks, you can’t transfer money both ways.
“So it came a time where only the multinationals, like Ecobank and United Bank of Africa, were able to transfer money. But through the FIU and other institutions and involvement of government, we were able to calm that down through the implementation of AML/CFT measures,” Cuffy explained.
Meanwhile, our team of investigative journalists will leave no stone untouched until those link to this global financial crime are exposed.