The West African response to the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism

In West Africa, organised crime is multifaceted: trafficking in drugs, arms, human beings, etc. Its transnational dimension makes it difficult to neutralise and this entails human, economic and security costs for countries.

But organised crime, of whatever type, also generates financial flows. Identifying and neutralising them contributes to limiting the operational capacity of criminal and/or terrorist groups.

This is why the European Union’s priority is to strengthen the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing (AML/CFT). Consequently, alongside its own actions in this field, the European Union finances technical cooperation projects to help countries improve their tools to fight against illicit financial flows.

The OCWAR-M project is part of this approach and, along with OCWAR-T (Trafficking) and OCWAR-C (Cybercrime), is among the projects financed by the European Union to fight against organised crime in West Africa.

The primary objective of OCWAR-M is to contribute to the adoption and effective application of international standards to fight against money laundering and terrorist financing (AML/CFT).

To this end, the objective of OCWAR-M will be to achieve:

  • A better understanding of the ML/FT risks by partner countries and an enhanced coordination of actions at national level;
  • Greater compliance of the legislative regimes of partner countries with international standards and a more effective implementation of these regimes;
  • Enhanced national, regional and international cooperation, in particular to facilitate the sharing of quality financial information and the strengthening of the capacities of prosecution authorities;
  • Operational capacity building for GIABA, the Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, which is the ECOWAS specialised institution responsible for building the capacities of Member States in this field.

To achieve these objectives, the OCWAR-M project adopts a pragmatic approach, which includes the provision of high-level experts, the conduct of studies, the raising of civil society awareness, the deployment of training and the development of practical and innovative tools.

The team of French experts based in Dakar has been mobilised by Expertise France and brings together skills in project coordination and financial and legal expertise in AML/CFT. It works in close collaboration with GIABA and the various actors directly concerned in partner countries (institutional actors, operational actors, regulated professions, financial institutions, civil society). The team also cooperates with a vast network of international, regional and national experts: some sixty of them are currently deployed to support the implementation of the activities.In West Africa, organised crime is multifaceted: trafficking in drugs, arms, human beings, etc. Its transnational dimension makes it difficult to neutralise and this entails human, economic and security costs for countries.

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