Experts seek to cut flow of money from piracy


30-October-2012

Guests and delegates in a souvenir photograph after the opening ceremony

The two-day event was launched at Le Méridien Barbarons resort by Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Paul Adam, and has delegates from the eastern and southern Africa as well as the Indian Ocean regions.

The director of the Indian Ocean Commission’s (IOC) anti-piracy cell Jacques Belle said the meeting is expected to assess “legislative and capacity needs for Somalia and its frontline states for them to detect, analyse, investigate and track money from piracy” and develop a plan to help meet those needs.

The delegates also hope to develop an inter-agency framework in the region to fight money laundering and piracy funding.

Mr Adam – who is also president of the IOC council of ministers – underscored the need for such measures, noting that for five years now the Indian Ocean has been plagued by piracy which has seen over 2,000 seafarers – including many Seychellois – taken hostage and mistreated.

Piracy also threatens the whole region, for example by forcing maritime routes to be modified, raising transport costs and affecting the living standards of populations of both coastal and inland nations including the landlocked which depend on maritime transport.

He said all over the world, financial assets amassed by criminals have enabled them to invest, and laundering of money from piracy has allowed those behind the activities to destabilise fragile economies and in so doing target certain countries.

He said working together, concerned parties can identify those implicated, with a view to starting legal proceedings and freeze their assets.

Mr Adam said in line with international guidelines particularly those of the United Nations, Seychelles has engaged in a policy of voluntary cooperation against those involved in piracy, naming local bodies created to work towards that goal with global bodies like the International Police.

IOC secretary general Jean-Claude de l’Estrac thanked President James Michel and Seychelles government for spearheading efforts to seek solutions to the problem of piracy and for helping to organise the ongoing meeting.

He said the fight against laundering money from piracy is an essential aspect and is as important as capturing pirates on the high seas and their prosecution.

Anti-piracy money laundering efforts face challenges such as the difficulty in linking the flow of money and piracy, given that relevant information is not made available to states, but rather, is retained by private industries involved in the negotiations for, and in the payment of ransoms.

He said the meeting is hoping to find ways of establishing contact between the various agencies and looking at options for regional mechanisms for exchanging information regarding money laundering.

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