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Mauritanian professionals learn to counter terrorism funding

By Jemal Oumar for Magharebia in Nouakchott – 28/11/11

A group of financial workers gathered in Nouakchott last week to learn how to effectively fight money laundering and stem terror funding.

The three-day forum, which ended on November 22nd, was attended by inspectors at the Central Bank of Mauritania, correspondents on the financial data analysis committees at Mauritanian banks and employees of finance transfer companies such as Western Union.

Attendees at the forum, organised by the Central Bank of Mauritania in collaboration with the World Bank, took part in theoretical and practical presentations by experts in the field of fighting money laundering and terrorism.

"This forum is part of Mauritania's efforts to combat the phenomenon of organised crime and drug trafficking and to combat terrorism in order to protect its economy and financial system from attempts of illegitimate money laundering," said Mennah Ould Hameny, Assistant Governor of the Central Bank of Mauritania.

Ould Hameny went on to say that "these procedures require banks to be vigilant and to identify clients in order to detect suspicious behaviour and prevent criminals and their associates from accessing part of banks' assets, and to work to develop specialised mechanisms to detect suspicious transactions."

"Mauritanian public authorities have adopted a number of stipulations in the field of combating money laundering and use of funds for terrorist purposes," he said.

"They also ratified a number of related international conventions, such as the Vienna Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988, the Palermo Convention on Combating Organised Crime of 2000 and the Convention on Combating Bribery of 2003," he added.

The Chief Inspector at the Central Bank of Mauritania, Mohamed Lemine Ould Elhaj, described the event by saying, "The main goal of this forum was training inspectors of the Central Bank of Mauritania and correspondents of data analysis committees at Mauritanian banks for the purpose of providing them with new information and informing them of the means others have discovered."

"In the area of bank inspection, our benefit was concrete, as we were informed about new and sophisticated mechanisms for preliminary bank inspection to determine their alignment with international standards in monitoring and tracking funds," Boba Ould Sidi Elmokhtar, another main inspector at the Central Bank of Mauritania, told Magharebia.

Fatimata Ilemane Jallo, who took part as Deputy Representative of the Data Analysis Committee at Mauritania's Al-Amana Bank, said, "During the three days of the forum, I learned how to scrutinise and find out about the customer morally and ethically, in terms of his private information."

Jallo also mentioned that the forum instructed employees on how to determine the source of transferred funds.

"It is known, for example, that it is not natural for any person working as a shepherd in Mauritania to transfer more than two million ounces, the upper ceiling permissible for transfer. In this case, the source of the sum must be reached," he added.

Mohamed Ould Al-Imam, owner of an exchange for converting and exchanging foreign currencies, said, "Forums of this sort are of utmost importance, because it makes us more cautious in dealing with large sums converted by those with a non-specific or insufficiently clear identity."

He added, "All citizens must play their role in reporting suspicious funds, and it is also necessary to deepen the research and make people aware that their interests and their security requires they be vigilant and directly active in reporting suspicious cases."

In related news, two million euros were seized Saturday by customs personnel at the international airport in Nouakchott, ANI reported.

The customs agents confiscated the money from two Austrian nationals, who had placed the money in undetectable plastic bags, during a routine check.

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