LEGAL PERSPECTIVE: Assessment of Risks to Combat Financial Crimes by Dr AbdelGadir Warsama, Legal Counsel


To combat financial crimes including money laundering,  countries should identify, assess, and understand related risks and take action to ensure that risks are mitigated effectively. Based on the assessment, countries should apply a risk-based approach to ensure that measures to prevent or mitigate all financial crimes are commensurate with the risks identified. This approach should be an essential foundation to efficient allocation of resources and to implement risk based measures through certain recommendations as FATF.

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Where countries identify higher risks, should ensure, they adequately address such risks. Where lower risks, they may decide to allow simplified measures under certain conditions. Countries should require that financial institutions, non-financial businesses and professions are to identify and take action to mitigate financial crimes risks.

To achieve national cooperation, national policies are required and regularly reviewed. Ensure policy-makers, financial intelligence unit, law enforcement authorities, supervisors and others, at the policymaking and operational levels, have effective mechanisms to coordinate activities to combat financial crimes.

With particular reference to money laundering offences, there is need to criminalize on the basis of Vienna and Palermo Conventions. Crimes of money laundering should be applied to all serious offences, with a view to including the widest range of predicate offences.

This is to include, confiscation, provisional measures and they should adopt measures similar to those set forth in Vienna, Palermo and the Terrorist Financing Conventions, including legislative measures, to enable authorities to freeze or seize and confiscate property laundered, the proceeds used or intended for use in money laundering or predicate offences, property that is the proceeds of or used in or intended for financing terrorism, terrorist acts or terrorist organizations.

All countries should adopt measures that allow such proceeds or instrumentalities to be confiscated without requiring a criminal conviction (non-conviction based confiscation), or which require an offender to demonstrate the lawful origin of the property alleged to be liable to confiscation, to the extent that such a requirement is consistent with the principles of their domestic law.

In addition to this, countries should criminalize terrorist financing on the basis of the Terrorist Financing Convention, and should criminalize not only financing of terrorist acts but also financing of terrorist organizations and individuals even in the absence of a link to a specific terrorist act. To freeze the funds or other assets of, and to ensure that no funds and other assets are made available to the benefit of any person designated by the United Nations Security Council under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. Such measures, among other, are imminent to combat such serious crimes.

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