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Some government officials and others in Liberia suspected of possible money laundering

NEW YORK – the chatters in some quarters of the international community and Washington, DC in particular paint some officials and others in Liberia as potential suspects of money laundering.

According to sources in the United States and among international security experts, Liberia has witnessed in recent periods an illegal flow of wealth in and out of the country without the use of the banking process.  In some instances, few banking institutions in the country have been fraudulently used to ship money outside of the country on behalf of corrupt officials and individuals, according to classified ongoing investigative information.

By international definition, money laundering is the process of concealing the origins of money obtained illegally by criminals or individuals engaged in illegal business and possibly acts of terrorism.  After the money has been laundered, it can be used for legitimate purposes.

Because of the nature of money laundering, the (G7) nations used the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering to enforce an ever-increasing fine for breaches of money laundering regulations.

The United States Government Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) considers money laundering as an act that generally involves masking the source of criminally derived proceeds so that the proceeds appear legitimate, or masking the source of monies used to promote illegal conduct.

Money laundering also generally involves three steps: placing illicit proceeds into the financial system; layering, or the separation of the criminal proceeds from their origin; and integration, or the use of apparently legitimate transactions to disguise the illicit proceeds. Once criminal funds have entered the financial system, the layering and integration phases make it very difficult to track and trace the money.

Western detective and security experts are believing that the alleged improper financial interactions ongoing in Liberia appears to have ties to some middle easterners and some Latin America’s cartel who may be using possibly a Trade-Based Money Laundering (TBML) scheme.

For example, drug trafficking organizations use money brokers to facilitate TBML. In complex TBML schemes, criminals move merchandise, falsify its value, and misrepresent trade-related financial transactions, often with the assistance of complicit merchants, in an effort to simultaneously disguise the origin of illicit proceeds and integrate them into the market. Once criminals exchange illicit cash for trade goods, it is difficult for law enforcement to trace the source of the illicit funds.

Investigation in laundering usually takes time and various processes and forms, but there is no statute of limitation regarding such crimes.  According to international security sources, if the ongoing inquiries prove true, individuals connected to such schemes in Liberia could face possible international charges.  

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Ben Mabande

Ben Mabande is a researcher and senior contributing reporter with Globe Afrique Media.

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