The fight against money laundering and illicit financial activities in the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) has received a boast with £ 1.3 million being pumped into the project over a three-year- period.
COMESA is set to receive the funds from the European Union (EU) and the International Police (Interpol)
Interpol is expected to use its expertise and tools in the context of the Maritime Security regional programme (MASE).
MASE is funded by the EU and managed by COMESA in order to strengthen the capacity of Law enforcements agencies to investigate financial crimes at regional and international level.
Interpol activities will focus specifically on countries such as Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles and Tanzania.
Speaking at the launch in Lusaka, COMESA assistant secretary general Kipyego Cheluget said the fight against money laundering needed strong components.
Dr Cheluget said most countries had indicated to COMESA that one of the biggest challenge facing the fight against money laundering and financing terrorism were weaknesses in the law enforcement aspects.
“You will notice that the need to implement the MASE programmes was the brought about by the rising incidents of piracy in the Indian ocean off the coast of Somalia from 2010,” he said.
Dr Chelugent urged Interpol to tailor its capacity building programmes in such a way that skills were fully imparted to the actors in the region.
Meanwhile, EU head of political, press and information Rune Skinnebach said the programme marked a new important step in the union’s cooperation with COMESA in fighting money laundering. Mr Skinnebach said the programme was part of the bigger EU-funded MASE initiative worth Euros 37.3 million to fight piracy.
“This issue of money laundering is complex and highly sensitive. As you know MASE programme has been highly successful and has contributed to the major positive results registered by the international community in the fight against piracy in the Indian Ocean,” he said.
Interpol representative Dimitrios Souxes observed that a lot of money which was supposed to be channelled to national activities was funded into terrorism activities.
“A lot of money that has been paid as a ransomed was funded into terrorism activities so we as Interpol have managed to take a strong note that some of this money has been channelled to maintain national and human activities,” he said.
Mr Souxes said his company was more than eager to cooperate with its COMESA and EU counterpart in an effort to tackle this phonemeneon.