Countries/Jurisdictions of Primary Concern - Gabon

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Report

Gabon is not a regional financial center. Gabon suffers from porous borders, and smuggling, facilitated by organized criminal groups, is reportedly widespread. Despite fiscal management reform efforts, systemic corruption persists. The embezzlement of state funds, including by politically exposed persons (PEPs), reportedly gives rise to money laundering. There is a large expatriate community in Gabon engaged in the timber industry, construction, and general trade. Money and value transfer services, such as hawala, and trade-based commodity transfers are often used by those expatriates, particularly the large Lebanese community, to avoid strict controls on the repatriation of corporate profits.

The Bank of Central African States (BEAC), based in Cameroon, is a regional central bank that serves six Central African countries and supervises Gabon’s banking system. BEAC’s Economic Intervention Service harmonizes the regulation of currency exchanges in the member states of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community.

For additional information focusing on terrorist financing, please refer to the Department of State’s Country Reports on Terrorism, which can be found at: http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/

DO FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS ENGAGE IN CURRENCY TRANSACTIONS RELATED TO INTERNATIONAL NARCOTICS TRAFFICKING THAT INCLUDE SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF US CURRENCY; CURRENCY DERIVED FROM ILLEGAL SALES IN THE U.S.; OR ILLEGAL DRUG SALES THAT OTHERWISE SIGNIFICANTLY AFFECT THE U.S.: NO

CRIMINALIZATION OF MONEY LAUNDERING:
“All serious crimes” approach or “list” approach to predicate crimes: All serious crimes
Are legal persons covered: criminally: YES civilly: YES

KNOW-YOUR-CUSTOMER (KYC) RULES:
Enhanced due diligence procedures for PEPs: Foreign: YES Domestic: YES
KYC covered entities: Banks, exchange houses, stock brokerages, casinos, insurance companies, lawyers and accountants

REPORTING REQUIREMENTS:
Number of STRs received and time frame: Not available
Number of CTRs received and time frame: Not available
STR covered entities: Banks, exchange houses, stock brokerages, casinos, insurance companies, lawyers and accountants, jewelry shops, car dealers, and casinos

MONEY LAUNDERING CRIMINAL PROSECUTIONS/CONVICTIONS:
Prosecutions: Not available
Convictions: 0 in 2013

RECORDS EXCHANGE MECHANISM:
With U.S.: MLAT: NO Other mechanism: YES
With other governments/jurisdictions: YES

Gabon is a member of the Action Group against Money Laundering in Central Africa (GABAC), an organization in the process of becoming a FATF-style regional body. In 2012, Gabon underwent a mutual evaluation; however, it has not yet been published.

ENFORCEMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES AND COMMENTS:

Although the National Agency for Financial Investigation (ANIF), Gabon’s financial intelligence unit, is now functional, it is hampered by deficiencies in the law, which merges suspicious transaction reporting (STRs) with currency transaction reporting (CTRs). All transactions over 5,000,000cfa (approximately $10,000) are reported, regardless of whether such transactions are deemed suspicious by the reporting institution. Banks may report transactions to ANIF for sums under this threshold, but do so on a case-by-case basis. ANIF still lacks the staff necessary to carry out its essential functions, and existing ANIF staff members report they need more training to improve the agency’s effectiveness. At the close of 2013, ANIF had not yet released an activity report for 2012.

The Gabonese judicial system has been slow to process money laundering cases because the process itself is cumbersome despite ongoing reform efforts, and because judges are not trained to hear such cases. Moreover, the judiciary remains generally inefficient and susceptible to undue influence.

The majority of ANIF STRs sent to the Attorney General in recent years were reportedly either dropped for lack of evidence or dismissed on procedural grounds. In Gabon, ANIF conducts initial financial investigations and, if there is sufficient evidence, later refers the case to a magistrate for prosecution. Police inefficiency, corruption, and impunity remain serious problems, although the government is stepping up its efforts against corrupt officials. Collection of evidence is also difficult. ANIF is working to raise awareness of AML/CFT and financial crimes cases among the judicial magistrates. In 2013, there were 10 ongoing prosecutorial investigations.

The Gabonese are willing to cooperate on international law enforcement matters via the exchange of diplomatic notes and letters. The Government of Gabon should continue working with regional and international organizations to establish a fully functioning AML/CFT regime in line with international standards.