Antananarivo, Wednesday, August 10, 2016. The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has handed over equipment worth approximately 100,000 dollars to the Financial Intelligence Unit in Madagascar (SAMIFIN) to help it in its fight against money laundering. The equipment was purchased and installed by COMESA through its EU-funded Regional Maritime Security Programme. It follows a capacity needs assessment that was done jointly by SAMIFIN and COMESA in 2015. During the hand-over ceremony, which took place at the SAMIFIN offices on 10th August 2015, COMESA Secretary General, Mr. Sindiso Ngwenya highlighted the importance of the region to strengthen its fight against money laundering. In a statement read on his behalf by the Head of Governance Peace and Security in COMESA, Ms. Elizabeth Mutunga, the Secretary General observed that despite piracy having gone down significantly since 2014, all structures should be in place to ensure that it does not recur. “… the money earned from piracy is still in circulation and it is important to continue following up to ensure prosecution of the kingpins,” Mr. Sindiso Ngwenya said. “It will also lead to the forfeiture of the assets earned, as well as to ensure that these monies do not find their way into the financial systems and thus distorting the structure of the economy.” He expressed COMESA’s appreciation to the European Union for the financial and technical assistance provided to the programme. He said the new equipment and software will improve the quality and speed of analysis of suspicious transactions. Mr Ngwenya also commended the Authorities in Madagascar for the commitment exhibited against the money laundering crime. “Madagascar has been the largest beneficiary of the programme so far, and I believe this can be attributed to their commitment to fight the crime of money laundering,” he said. Head of Political Affairs, Press and Information at the European Union Delegation in Antananarivo Mr. Lothar JASCHKE halied the efforts and achievements of Madagascar in the context of the MASE programme: “Today we accomplish a new step with the handover of the information and technology tools and the modern software, which will allow us to enhance the capacity of SAMIFIN, and in a more global and decisive manner, the Malagasy government in its endeavor to become a full member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG)”. – Mr. Lothar JASCHKE The Director General of SAMIFIN, Lamina Boto Tsara Dia expressed appreciation to COMESA and to the European Union for the support and assured them of continued commitment to fight the money laundering crime. The regional Maritime security programme, which is implemented by COMESA and three other Regional Organizations namely, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), East African Community (EAC) and Indian Ocean Community (IOC) has the overall objective of fighting piracy and other maritime threats. COMESA is implementing one of the five result areas, which seeks to address economic effects of piracy through disrupting financial networks of pirates and their financiers. The programme is extended to the countries that were most vulnerable to piracy attacks including Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Somalia and Tanzania. COMESA is assisting MASE programme countries through building financial analytical capacity of their Financial Intelligence Units and their analytical tools, enhancing capacity of Law Enforcement Agencies, facilitating review and amendment of anti-money laundering laws to ensure they are in line with international standards as outlined by the Financial Action Task Force, and assisting countries with developing information sharing mechanisms nationally and internationally. Madagascar has so far benefited from the programme through facilitating the process of joining as a full member of a FATF-Style Regional Body, the East and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), which is a requirement of all jurisdictions fighting money laundering. Madagascar is expected to be admitted into ESAAMLG during its 19th plenary to be held in Vic Falls Zimbabwe in September 2016.