Countries/Jurisdictions of Primary Concern - Guinea
The lack of record-keeping, weak law enforcement, corruption, and the informal, cash-based economy in Guinea provide a fertile environment for money laundering and its predicate offenses. The situation is made more complex by the Economic Community of West African States’ principle of free movement of persons and goods. The country’s openness to the sea and the existence of a large sea port provide a major economic opportunity, but also constitute risks that should be addressed by the authorities. Ending the ebola epidemic in Guinea is the top priority of the government and taking most of the government’s attention and efforts.
There are a growing number of unauthorized currency dealers that resist government measures against unlicensed operators. Guinea has an extensive black market for smuggled goods, which includes illegal drugs trafficked from Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone. Local officials believe the sale of counterfeit U.S. currency in Guinea involves money laundering. It is estimated that 80 percent of the pharmaceutical drugs sold in the region are counterfeit. Reportedly, certain segments of the large Lebanese expatriate community launder the proceeds of outside criminal activity by purchasing or constructing buildings in Guinea for immediate sale. Other money laundering methods used in Guinea include the purchasing of diamonds or gold for resale. Stolen cars from the United States are often destined for West African markets, including Guinea. Due to limited law enforcement capacity, Guinean authorities struggle to determine the nexus between illicit funds and criminal organizations, and possible links to terrorism financing.
In August 2014, Senegalese Customs officials seized the equivalent of $20 million in Guinean francs at the international airport in Dakar when it was being transferred from a flight from Conakry to a flight going to Dubai. Guinea’s Central Bank claimed the transfer was authorized and routine. However, the seizure was widely covered by the media and a full explanation concerning the currency transfer has not been given.
Guinea is plagued by misappropriation of public funds; however, there are no investigations that have connected corrupt Guinean officials with laundering activities. Most illicit funds are transferred via a widespread and well established network of money transfer agents operating out of local markets.
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: The Public Treasury, Central Bank, banks, currency exchanges and money remitters, microfinance institutions, insurance companies, the post office, real estate and travel agencies, auditors, service companies, cash couriers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), lawyers, independent legal advisors, accountants, brokers, dealers, casinos, dealers in precious metals and stones, and notaries
Number of STRs received and time frame: 12 in 2014
Number of CTRs received and time frame: Not applicable
STR covered entities: The Public Treasury, Central Bank, banks, currency exchanges and money remitters, microfinance institutions, insurance companies, the post office, real estate and travel agencies, auditors, service companies, cash couriers, NGOs, lawyers, independent legal advisors, accountants, brokers, dealers, casinos, dealers in precious metals and stones, and notaries
money laundering criminal Prosecutions/convictions:
Records exchange mechanism:
With U.S.: MLAT: NO Other mechanism: YES
With other governments/jurisdictions: YES
Guinea is a member of the Inter Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), a FATF-style regional body. Its most recent mutual evaluation can be found at: http://www.giaba.org/reports/mutual-evaluation/Guinea.html
Enforcement and implementation issues and comments:
Although Guinea has criminalized money laundering, the Government of Guinea does not consider money laundering and drug trafficking to be high-priority issues. A law criminalizing terrorism financing was passed by the National Assembly in May 2014 and will go into effect in 2015. It was the first law passed by the National Assembly, Guinea’s first democratically-elected legislature. The anti-terrorism financing law was passed unanimously. Many types of entities are covered under the AML law, but its reporting and customer due diligence requirements are neither fully implemented nor properly enforced; and many covered entities are not subject to comprehensive supervision or regulation. The only financial reporting that occurs is between local banks and the Central Bank of Guinea.
Guinea lacks the resources necessary for the proper surveillance of its porous borders. Although some controls exist for cross-border currency tracking, they relate only to customs fraud. Customs officials have no authority to enforce AML/CFT controls and there is no central electronic database to record reported cross-border currency movements.
Although institutions are in place to investigate money laundering and financial irregularities, they are hampered by corruption, political tension, and serious limitations of authority and scope. Guinea’s fledgling financial intelligence unit (FIU), the CENTIF, an autonomous agency established by Presidential decree in 2013, is not operational as of the end of 2014. The CENTIF committee members were named in the decree and will include representatives of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, police, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Security and Civil Protection, Customs, and the Central Bank. The National Assembly allocated funds for the FIU in the 2015 budget. However, the government has yet to identify appropriate office space for CENTIF or hire and train the necessary staff to assume its proper functions. Because of other government priorities, it is likely that CENTIF will suffer the same fate in 2015 as it did in 2013 and 2014 – no action. Until CENTIF is fully operational, current oversight of money laundering issues continues to be managed by the Director General of the Central Bank in charge of supervising financial institutions.
In 2013, Guinea became a party to the UN Convention against Corruption. Guinea’s autonomous Anti-Corruption Agency (ANLC) reports directly to the president and is currently the only state agency focused solely on fighting corruption. However, it has been largely ineffective in its role with only two cases prosecuted, with no convictions, in 2014. The ANLC also receives anonymous tips from a hotline concerning possible corruption cases. However, during the past two years there have been no prosecutions as a result of these tips. The ANLC executive director stated the agency is underfunded, understaffed, and lacks the basics to fight corruption, such as computers and vehicles. The ANLC is comprised of 42 employees in seven field offices and operates on a budget of $1.1 million per year. The former head of the ANLC was a champion of the anti-graft movement and was assassinated by unknown assailants in 2012. No one has been brought to justice for her murder. No successor has been named following the death of the current director in November 2014.
Corruption within the judiciary, funding shortages, and ineffective law enforcement make it difficult for Guinea to cooperate fully with foreign governments to combat financial crime. Guinea has been cooperative with U.S. law enforcement efforts, including cooperating with the U.S. Secret Service on a counterfeit case in 2013.
Guinea has laws to criminalize money laundering and terrorism financing but it must now devote the necessary resources to implement and enforce these laws. Although Guinea has a tipping off provision, it only applies to the subject of an STR; it should be expanded to apply to disclosure to any third person. The government also should strive to staff and train its law enforcement, FIU, judiciary, intelligence, and customs officials to recognize and combat financial crimes, including money laundering.