In May 2022, during 2 weeks, the project launched the first training of trainers aiming at the strengthening of the AML/CFT criminal chain of its Anglophone partner countries.
This activity responds to a need identified by the GIABA, as explained by Gina Wood, Legal Officer in this institution: “From the mutual evaluations that we have conducted, conviction rates have been really low and for some countries non-existent. This had to do with the lack of training of those within the criminal chain – that is investigators, prosecutors, judges – and also those involved with assets recovery.”
This activity thus aims to fill this gap by reinforcing the skills of all stakeholders of the criminal chain in the Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone to improve the capability and effectiveness in the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of money laundering and terrorist financing offences together with the timely tracing and effective management of seized assets.
The training is divided in five pillars: “Detection and investigation of Offences” (1) ; “Seizure and recovery of assets” (2) ; “Prosecution” (3) ; “International and Regional Cooperation” (4) ; and “Adjudication” (5). For each of these pillars, tailor-made modules have been developed by a college of three regional experts1 from the five targeted countries and two international experts. The modules developed are in line with the needs identified by GIABA and the goal set out by the FATF in its seventh Immediate Outcome.2
The first phase of this training, targeting investigators, took place in Dakar from 9 to 20 May 2022. It was delivered by two AML/CFT experts: Shaun McLeary, former investigator at the British police, and Victor Moiwo, analyst at the financial intelligence unit (FIU) of Sierra Leone. The training gathered 23 representatives of FIUs, law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies from the five ECOWAS Anglophone countries.
During two weeks, the participants worked together on the detection of money laundering and terrorist financing offences, and on the planning, preparation and management of the investigations regarding those crimes. The trainers proposed a very complete program mixing modules presenting the typologies of financial profiles and money laundering and terrorist financing offences, but also explaining how to undertake an efficient investigation, answering questions such as:
What are the different steps of an ML/FT investigation?
Who are the different actors involved?
How to manage available information to turn it into evidence?
A substantial part of the two weeks training was dedicated to practical cases and group work. As explained by Shaun McLeary, “the idea was that people from different countries, different backgrounds, different agencies sat together working as participants”.
These groups worked together on several case studies, which allowed them to apply the knowledge acquired to scenarii based on real life investigations and prosecutions, giving them the tools to follow the criminals’ money during their future investigations.
During the two weeks, the trainers encouraged the participants to think outside the box, which is, according to Shaun McLeary, a requisite for a successful investigation “One of the things we looked at was sources of information, and one of the things that I said repeatedly during these weeks is the only thing that limits financial investigations is their imagination: to think as widely as possible in order to obtain data to inform their investigations.”
The training was also an opportunity to connect investigators from these five countries, in order to foster future cooperation; that is the reason why the trainers put a particular emphasis on group work: “This methodology has shown how networking is important in the work we do. No country within West Africa would be successful in the fight against organized crime or terrorism financing for that matter by doing it alone”, says Victor Moiwo.
After this successful first training of trainers, a second one will take place in September. It will gather magistrates from the five Anglophone countries and will be delivered by the Australian lawyer Pauline David and two regional experts.
1 The investigators training was developed by Shaun McLeary and regional expert Victor Moiwo (Sierra Leone); the Magistrates training was developed by Pauline David and two regional experts. Before the elaboration of tailor-made modules, an important work of needs assessment and context diagnosis had been undertaken by 13 regional experts and 3 international experts (Shaun McLeary, Pauline David and Pierre Baron).
2 « Money laundering investigation & prosecution: Money laundering offences and activities are investigated and offenders are prosecuted and subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions. »