Mr. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the Minister of Information, has urged the media to take the lead in the advocacy against money laundering (ML) and terrorism financing (TF) to secure the needed level of public awareness and cooperation.
He said recent events in the country, particularly the security matters in the Northern Region, where it was reported that some residents thwarted the arrest of some persons suspected to be terrorists, was cause for concern about the awareness deficit of society’s obligation in the fight against terrorism.
The Minister said the media can address the awareness deficit by taking the lead in advocacy against ML and FT through public education and creating an enabling environment for whistleblowers to volunteer to share information.
He made the remarks during the National Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism Media Outreach and Advocacy Training Programme organized by the Inter-Government Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).
The two-day event involves a training programme for journalists from selected media organisations, which will culminate in a media tour to selected media organisations the next day.
“The media, like other agencies, has an important, if not peculiar, role to play in helping the fight. The media can educate the public about the dangers of terrorism, its consequences, and how individuals can contribute to combating it,” he said.
He added, “The media can provide the platform for whistleblowers to come forward with information on money laundering and terrorism financing activities in their communities.”
The media outreach activities organised by GIABA, the Minister said, will provide the media with the necessary skills required to aid the media’s contribution in the fight against ML and TF.
According to LexisNexis, a risk solutions agency, ML is estimated to cost West African countries $50 billion a year in illicit financial flows through activities that represent a net loss to the region in terms of revenue and investments.
In a joint report by FATT and GIABA, the bodies noted that there is an emerging nexus between terrorist financing and trade in that there is an increased likelihood of terrorist financiers using fraudulent trade-based practices to collect, transfer, and utilise funds for terrorist activities.
The bodies noted that some states could willingly or unwillingly facilitate terrorism financing through weak regulatory frameworks and legal regimes to constrain terrorists.
GIABA has underscored the importance of journalism to combat ML and TF through investigative journalism in the sub-region.
In its quest to develop the capacity of journalists to report ML and TF, Mr. Edwin W. Harris, Director General of GIABA, said in his address that since 2009, his outfit has been organising sensitization programmes for the media to facilitate the understanding of ML and TF.
He said the media remains a veritable channel of increasing awareness among the populace on ML and TF.
The training programme entailed a morning session, which was moderated by Dr. Daniel Nkrumah, lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, while the afternoon session was moderated by Mr. Timothy Melaye from GIABA.
In the morning session, journalists were enlightened on the methodologies and techniques of investigating money laundering and terrorism financing, while in the afternoon session, they were educated on the implications of money laundering and terrorism financing in the sub-region.