Cablegate: 2008 Guinea-Bissau Incsr Part Ii: Financial Crime and Money


DE RUEHDK #0052/01 0141047
P 141047Z JAN 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 07 STATE 138226

1. This cable is Part Two of the 2007-2008 National Narcotics
Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Financial Crimes and Money
Laundering report for Guinea-Bissau. Included is a narrative
overview (paras 2-11). Para 12 contains responses keyed to the
numbered questions beginning with Reftel paragraph 16.

2. Despite increased drug trafficking and the prospect of oil
production, Guinea-Bissau's instability and tiny economy make it an
unlikely site for major money laundering, except as the placement
point for proceeds from drug payoffs, theft of foreign aid and
corrupt diversion of oil and other state resources headed for
investment abroad.

3. On November 2, 2004, Guinea-Bissau became the third WAEMU
country to enact the WAEMU Uniform Law on Money Laundering (the
Uniform Law). The new legislation largely meets international
standards with respect to money laundering; it does not comply with
FATF recommendations concerning politically-exposed persons, and
lacks certain compliance provisions for non-financial institutions.
The law does not deal with terrorist financing.

4. The penal code of Guinea-Bissau criminalizes terrorist
financing. However, there are no reporting requirements or
attendant regulations. The BCEAO is working on a directive against
Terrorist Financing. If adopted, the member states would be
directed to enact a law against terrorist financing, which most
likely would be presented as a Uniform Law in the same manner as the
AML law. Because, like the AML law, it is a penal law, each
national assembly must then enact the law. In addition, the
FATF-style regional body for the 15-member Economic Community of
Western African States (ECOWAS), African Anti-Money Laundering
Inter-governmental Group (GIABA) has drafted a uniform law, which it
hopes to have enacted in all of its member states, not just the
WAEMU states. GIABA will present its draft at a conference November
21-23 in Niamey.

5. Guinea-Bissau is working with external donors to establish a
functioning FIU. Real progress, however, will be hampered if not
entirely stalled by corruption, instability, and distrust
(particularly of the judicial sector), and lack of capacity. As one
banker commented, Guinea-Bissau is small and the judiciary is
indiscreet; accordingly, only a blatant transaction would likely
cause the bank to incur the risk of filing a STR.

6. Three banks operate in Guinea-Bissau. Western Union and
MoneyGram are associated with the banks. The Central Bank of West
African States (BCEAO), based in Dakar, is the Central Bank for the
countries in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU or
UEMOA): Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali,

Niger, Senegal and Togo, all of which use the French-backed CFA
franc currency, which is linked to the euro. The Commission
Bancaire, responsible for bank inspections, is based in Abidjan.

7. Official statistics regarding the prosecution of financial
crimes are unavailable. There are no known prosecutions of money
laundering. In November 2007, Guinea-Bissau's government Audit
Office set up a commission to investigate illegal acquisition of
wealth by present and former government officials
8. The UN 1267 Sanctions Committee consolidated list is circulated
both by the BCEAO to commercial financial institutions and the
Ministry of Finance. To date, no assets relating to terrorist
entities have been identified. The WAEMU Council of Ministers
issued a directive in September 2002 requiring banks to freeze
assets of entities designated by the Sanctions Committee.

9. Multilateral ECOWAS treaties deal with extradition and legal
assistance. Other bilateral accords are not known. Under the
Uniform Law, once established, the FIU may share information freely
with other FIUs in WAEMU.

10. Guinea-Bissau is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, has
signed but not ratified the UN Convention against Transnational
Organized Crime, and has not signed or ratified the UN Convention
against Corruption. The status of the 1999 UN International
Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the
African Union Convention on Terrorism Finance is not known.

11. The Government of Guinea-Bissau should continue to work with
its partners in WAEMU and ECOWAS to establish a comprehensive
anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regime.
Guinea-Bissau should fully install its FIU, and work to improve the
training and capacity of its police and judiciary to combat
financial crimes.

12. The following responses are to specific Reftel

(Para) Question 16: Is the country (or territory or dependency)
considered an important regional financial center (such as Hong
Kong, Singapore, Panama, Switzerland, etc.)? What is its
significance in terms of money laundering?

-- Guinea-Bissau is neither a regional financial center nor is money
laundering thought to be significant. Bissau's banking sector is
governed by the BCEAO, which issues the euro-pegged CFA franc
(CFAF). Along with the BCEAO, the "Commission Bancaire" is a
supranational supervisory entity, based in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire,
created in April 1990 to control and oversee financial institution
operations. There are three banks in Guinea-Bissau, two of which
(Banco da Uniao and Banco Regionale de Solidariedade) began
operations in 2006 and have between 6,000 and 9,000 accounts each.
The third bank, Banco da Africa Ocidental (BAO), began operating in
1999 as an investment bank and entered the retail market after the
failure of then-other bank in Bissau, the Banco Internacional da
Guine-Bissau, in 2002. As of 2004, the BAO had approximately 7,000

Question 17: To the extent it is known, is money
laundering/terrorist financing primarily related to narcotics
proceeds? (If applicable, specify drug.) If not, what is the major
source(s) of the proceeds? Also to the extent known, do the
criminal proceeds laundered in the jurisdiction derive primarily
from domestic or foreign criminal activity? Are the money
laundering proceeds controlled by local drug-trafficking
organizations, organized crime, or terrorist groups?

-- Guinea-Bissau is increasingly being used by drug traffickers
transiting between Latin America and Europe. A recent boom in
construction of luxury homes and businesses and the proliferation of
pricey foreign cars is not in keeping with the consistently poor
local economy. It is likely that at least some of the new wealth in
Guinea-Bissau is money laundered from drug trafficking. Some of the
drug proceeds are likely laundered abroad, as well.

Question 18: Is there a significant black market for smuggled goods
in the country? If so, do you believe it is significantly funded by
narcotic proceeds or other illicit proceeds? Does contraband
smuggling generate funds that are laundered through the banking

-- Arms smuggling likely occurs and may be funded in part by drug

Question 19: Does money laundering/terrorist financing occur in the
banking system, within an offshore financial center or free trade
zone, or in the non-bank financial system (e.g., exchange houses) or
via alternative remittance systems such as hawala, or all areas? Is
the country experiencing an increase in financial crimes, not
limited to money laundering or terrorist financing, such as bank
fraud and counterfeit currency? Please explain.

-- The banking sector demonstrated a relatively high awareness of
money laundering risks and all banks reportedly had compliance
programs in place. However, banking officials believed Bissau to be
vulnerable to laundering, particularly via over- and under-invoicing
of imports. Guinea-Bissau has no known free trade zones and is not
linked to offshore centers. Official statistics regarding
prosecution of financial crimes are unavailable.

Question 20: To the post's knowledge, do the country's financial
institutions engage in currency transactions involving international
narcotics trafficking proceeds that include significant amounts of
United States currency or currency derived from illegal drug sales
in the United States or that otherwise significantly affect the
United States?

-- Guinea-Bissau is a transit point between Latin America and Europe
and does not significantly affect the U.S. Bissau's financial
institutions do not appear to have a significant role in laundering
drug proceeds.

Questions 21 to 23: These questions are not applicable, and are not
reproduced, as Bissau has no offshore banking or other

Question 24: Are there free trade zones operating in the
jurisdiction? If so, please give the number and briefly describe
operations, capability and function.

-- Bissau has no known free trade zones.

Questions 25 and 26 pertain to free trade zones and are not

--------------------------------------------- ---
Question 27: Is money laundering a criminal offense in this

-- Yes, in 2004, Guinea-Bissau became the third WAEMU country to
pass WAEMU harmonized legislation establishing a uniform law on
money laundering.

Question 27 (continued): Does the law apply only to drug-related
money laundering? Does the country list specific crimes or take an
all serious crimes approach? Note: In some jurisdictions,
anti-money laundering laws cover "all serious crimes" which are
defined as crimes that carry a threshold minimum sentence in the
jurisdiction's penal code. If the country lists specific crimes,
what offenses are covered? If there is a threshold minimum, what is
that threshold?

-- Under the new legislation, the source of the proceeds is not
specific to any crime.

Question 28: Has the country enacted secrecy laws that prevent
disclosure of client and ownership information by domestic and
offshore financial services companies to bank supervisors and law
enforcement authorities?

-- The uniform law on money laundering enables banking information
to be shared with law enforcement authorities. The law states:
"Notwithstanding all contrary legal provisions or rules,
professional secrecy may not be invoked . . . to refuse providing
information to the control authorities."

QUESTION 29: Do current laws provide for the establishment and
funding of a financial intelligence unit (FIU)?

-- The current law provides for the establishment, albeit not
funding, of an FIU. A directive establishing an FIU was signed in
May 2006, but the FIU has not yet begun operations.

Question 30: Who supervises and examines financial institutions for
compliance with anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing
laws and regulations?

-- The Banking Commission has the responsibility to supervise
financial institution compliance with AML/CTF laws and regulations.
The Commission reportedly has conducted some AML compliance
examinations; however, due to the fact that half of the member
states have not adopted the uniform law, its efforts have been

Question 31: Are banks and other financial institutions required to
know, record, and report the identity of customers engaging in
significant transactions, including the recording of large currency
transaction at thresholds appropriate to the country's economic
situation? What is the statutory threshold?

-- National Assembly resolution number four in 2004 deals with money
laundering. Article 26 stipulates that if a banksuspects money
laundering it must obtain a declaration of all properties and assets
from the suspet and notify the Attorney General who is then
reuired to appoint a judge to investigate.

Questin 32: Are banks and other financial institutions rquired to
maintain for an adequate time records ncessary to reconstruct
significant transactions hrough financial institutions in order to
be abl to respond quickly to information requests from apropriate
government authorities in narcotics-related or other money
laundering or terrorist finance cases? For how long?

-- The law requires financial institutions to preserve records for
at least ten years.

Question 33: Are the money laundering controls applied to

non-banking financial institutions, such as exchange houses, stock
brokerages, cash couriers, casinos, insurance companies, etc., and
to intermediaries, such as lawyers, accountants, or brokers/dealers?
Who supervises such entities for compliance?

-- The law applies to a host of sectors, including all of those
listed above and others. Some entities have government regulatory
authorities; others (such as attorneys and accountants) have
professional supervisory authorities, while others have no effective

Question 34: Do financial institutions report suspicious
transactions? Is such reporting mandatory or voluntary? Is
reporting required for all suspicious transaction, or is there a
threshold amount below which suspicious transaction reports are not
required? Are non-bank financial institutions required to report
such transactions?

-- The law requires financial institutions to report suspicious
transactions to the FIU; there is no minimum threshold. Non-bank
financial institutions are also required to report. As yet,
however, there is no FIU.

Question 35: Are reporting individuals (bankers and others)
protected by law with respect to their cooperation with law
enforcement entities?

-- Reporting individuals and their supervisors are accorded full
civil and criminal immunity (as well as protection from professional
sanctions) for information provided to the FIU in good faith.

Question 36: Has the country established and adequately staffed a
financial intelligence unit (FIU)? Where in the Government is it
housed; e.g., within the finance or national police ministry, as an
independent agency, etc.

-- By law, the FIU will be within the Ministry of Economy and
Finance, although its staff will be drawn from several ministries.

Question 37: Describe the authorities and functions of the FIU. Is
it an administrative body that performs analytical duties or does it
also have criminal investigative responsibilities? Does it have
regulatory responsibilities?

-- According to the law and decree, a senior Ministry of Finance
official will administer the FIU. Its mission, among other things,
is to receive and analyze suspicious activity declarations, and,
where appropriate, to refer files to the Prosecutor General. It is
to be an administrative-type FIU, but has the authority to obtain
information through "correspondents" within police entities (as well
as within other government entities). It also includes two senior
police inspectors and a customs officer on staff. Some of its
functions could be viewed as investigative, but it is not clear
where the limits of its investigative authority lie. It does not,
as currently envisioned, have regulatory responsibilities.

Question 38: Does the FIU have access to the records or databanks of
other government entities? Financial Institutions? Does it have
formal mechanisms in place to share information domestically or with
other FIUs?

-- By law, the FIU has the authority to request information from any
government entity through its "correspondents" as well as from any
reporting entity (i.e., financial and designated non-financial
entities). Under the uniform law, information can be shared freely
among the FIUs in WAEMU; at present, however, there are only two
operational FIUs (Senegal and Niger).

Question 39: How many suspicious transaction reports (STRs) were
received in 2006? How many were the subject of investigation or
resulted in referrals to law enforcement for investigation?

-- None.

Question 40: Which government bodies are responsible for
investigating financial crimes, including money laundering and
terrorist financing? Are they adequately staffed and trained to
fulfill their responsibilities?

-- Apart from the FIU, the judicial police and prosecutors are
responsible for investigating money laundering and terrorist
financing. There is a small unit at the Attorney General's office
charged with investigating corruption and economic crimes. Capacity
is low; in the words of one judicial police officer: "null." The
police cite lack of training and means, no collaboration with banks,

and institutionalized corruption as impediments to investigations.
Both police and the public prosecutors office complained of
corruption within Customs hindering the ability to get documents
necessary for investigations.

In 2007, Guinea-Bissau's government Audit Office reportedly set up a
commission to investigate illegal acquisition of wealth by present
and former government officials, although actual activities by the
commission have not been made public.
Question 41: Have there been arrests and/or prosecutions for money
laundering or terrorist financing since January 1, 2007. How many?
Please report highlights of any major cases not previously

-- No.

Question 42: Has the jurisdiction criminalized the financing of
terrorism as required by the United Nations Security Council
resolution 1373? If so, please provide title of act, date of
enactment, and pertinent details. If the jurisdiction has an "all
serious crimes" anti-money laundering law, please indicate if
terrorism and terrorist financing are considered "serious crimes."

-- Guinea-Bissau has criminalized terrorist financing since October
13, 1993. See Penal Code, Title VI, Article 203. The law
criminalizes, inter alia, the financing of terrorist groups or
organizations. These in turn are defined as groups of two or more
persons, acting in concert, with the intent to harm the integrity or
independence of the nation, to impede ... or subvert the functioning
of constitutionally mandated state institutions, force a public
authority to commit an act, refrain from or tolerate an act, or to
intimidate certain persons, group of persons or the population
generally through a criminal act.

As happened with the uniform law against money laundering, the BCEAO
is taking the lead in drafting a directive against terrorist
financing, which it will present to the WAEMU Ministers.
Presumably, once adopted by the Ministers, a uniform law will be
drafted and be available for adoption by the parliaments of member
states. GIABA has drafted a uniform law for all ECOWAS states,
which has yet to be approved.

Question 43: Has the jurisdiction circulated to its financial
institutions the list of individuals and entities that have been
included on the UN 1267 sanctions committee's consolidated list as
being linked to Usama bin Ladin, members of the Al Qa'ida
organization or the Taliban, or that the USG or the EU have
designated under relevant authorities. If so, did the jurisdiction
identify, freeze, seize, and/or forfeit related assets in 2007? If
so, please provide dollar amount.

-- The list is circulated by the BCEAO to commercial financial
institutions. To date no assets relating to terrorist entities have
been identified.

Question 44: Does the jurisdiction acknowledge the existence and use
of indigenous alternative remittance systems that by-pass, in whole
or part, financial institutions? Describe the steps the
jurisdiction has taken regarding regulating alternative remittance
systems, such as hawala, black market exchanges, money remitters,
trade-based money laundering, cross border cash smuggling, or the
misuse of gold, precious metals and gems.

-- In theory, unlicensed remitters and exchanges are illegal. Banks
acknowledge the use of over/under invoicing, but it is not known
whether this practice is related to money laundering or is simply
tax fraud. Authorities cite porous borders and cash smuggling as
problems, in part because of reportedly rampant corruption in

Question 45: Discuss the efforts the jurisdiction has taken to
thwart the misuse of charitable and/or non-profit entities that can
be used as conduits for the financing of terrorism?

-- The current regulation of charities is not known. The WAEMU
uniform AML law covers charitable and non-profit entities, which are
required to file suspicious transaction reports. The draft
terrorist financing directive includes provisions to strengthen the
supervision of NGOs.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
Question 46: Are there statutory requirements for limiting or
monitoring the international transportation of currency and monetary

-- In general, all incoming currency and monetary instruments must

be deposited in a bank, the post office, or changed at an authorized
foreign exchange bureau within 30 days. There is no limit on the
amount. The entities report receipts monthly to the BCEAO.
Outgoing transfers must be handled by banks, the post office, or, in
the case of cash or travel checks for travelers, by authorized
change bureaus. Regulations provide a long laundry list of
justifications for transfers; such transfers can be done by the
financial institutions without authorization as long as the
transferor provides documentation of the purpose of the transfer
(and, in the case of the Post and change bureaus, is within a
certain amount). A notable exception is the transfer for the
purpose of foreign investment, which, as with any other purpose not
on the list, must be approved by the Minister of Finance. Financial
institutions report outgoing transfers monthly to the BCEAO.

Question 47: Please describe cross-border currency reporting
requirements, including those that apply to cash couriers? Are cash
smuggling reports entered into a database? Is such data shared
between host government agencies?

-- On entry, non-residents must declare in writing any currency from
outside the "zone franc" in the amount of CFAF one million
(approximately USD 2,000) or more, as well as monetary instruments
denominated in cash in any amount. On exit, non-residents must
declare in writing any non-franc-zone currency above approximately
USD 1,000 as well as all monetary instruments from foreign entities.
Residents are not required to declare currency on entry; on exit,
they must declare in writing amounts of any foreign currency and any
monetary instruments greater than approximately USD 4,000. These
requirements are for the purpose of currency control and are not
well enforced. There is no functioning database, and information is
not readily shared among government agencies.

Question 48: Has the country enacted laws and established systems
for identifying, tracing, freezing, seizing, and forfeiting
narcotics-related assets as well as assets derived from or intended
for other serious crimes? If so, please describe the authority
(regulatory or judicial). Are new legislation or changes in current
laws, regulations, judicial or administrative authorities, being

-- The uniform AML law provides for the freezing, seizing, and
confiscation of property by judicial order. In addition, the FIU
can order the suspension of the execution of a financial transaction
for 48 hours. The BCEAO can also order the freezing of funds held
by banks. In addition, judicial authorities can order the seizure
and confiscation of property used in crime; in a recent cocaine
seizure case, the authorities seized a truck and several boats.

Question 49: What are the obstacles or disincentives to enacting
such laws, regulations, other authorities?

-- Guinea-Bissau is a civil law country. As such, it does not have
a tradition of civil forfeiture.

Question 50: What are the major provisions in current and/or
proposed legislation? For example, what assets can be seized? Do
they include: instruments of crime such as conveyances used to
transport narcotics, or farms on which illicit crops are grown or
which are used to support terrorist activity, or intangible property
such as bank accounts? Can substitute assets be seized or must a
relationship to the crime be proven?

-- The uniform law allows the freezing, seizure and confiscation of
any property, corporal or incorporeal, on order of the investigating
judge as a conservation measure. Upon conviction for money
laundering or attempted money laundering, the law provides for
obligatory confiscation of property that is the proceeds of
laundering; property into which that property has been converted,
commingled, invested or transformed; and any proceeds (income)
derived from that property. There is an exception for an owner who
can establish that s/he was unaware of the illegal source of the
property. The court may also order, as penal sanctions, the
confiscation of any property used or intended to be used in the
offense, and the confiscation of other property of the convicted
person (the latter does not appear to be "substitute assets" as that
term is understood in the U.S.; the provision does not relate the
amount of licit property subject to confiscation to the amount
laundered or put beyond the reach of the court).

Question 51: What government entities are responsible for tracing,
seizing and freezing assets? Is there a period of time ascribed to
the action of freezing, after which the assets are released? Are
frozen assets confiscated? If yes, by what government entity? Who
receives proceeds from asset seizures and forfeitures?

-- The FIU can order a 48-hour freeze (in the form of a delay on the
execution of a transaction). Such action must be converted to a
judicial order within 48 hours or the freeze must be lifted. As
noted above, the investigating judge can issue orders freezing or
seizing assets as a conservatory measure. Confiscated property goes
to the public treasury.

Question 52: Does the banking community cooperate with enforcement
efforts to trace funds and seize/freeze bank accounts?

-- As far as is known, there have been no enforcement efforts
involving banks.

Question 53: Does the law allow for civil as well as criminal

-- The uniform law allows explicitly for criminal forfeiture. There
is no provision for American-style civil forfeiture. It is not
clear what happens to property seized if no prosecution results and
no owner is identified.

Question 54: Does the Government enforce existing drug-related asset
seizure and forfeiture laws? Does the jurisdiction have adequate
police powers and resources to trace, seize and freeze assets? If
so, can the jurisdiction freeze assets without undue delay?

-- As noted above, police in a recent cocaine case had seized an
SUV, several boats and weapons. The suspects were released and it
is not known what happened to the seized property. The total number
of confiscations is not known.

Question 55: Does the government have an independent system and
mechanism for freezing terrorist assets?

-- National Assembly resolution number four in 2004 deals with money
laundering and it is the same resolution that would be used to
respond to terrorist assets. The government could use that
authority to obtain a declaration of all properties and assets from
the suspect and notify the Attorney General who is then required to
appoint a judge to investigate.

Question 56: What was the dollar amount of narcotics-related,
terrorist-related and other criminal-related assets frozen,
forfeited and/or seized in the past year? How does this amount
compare to amounts seized in previous years?

-- Statistics on the value of seized assets are unavailable.

Question 57: Has the country enacted laws for the sharing of seized
narcotics assets, as well as the assets from other serious crimes
with other governments? Is the Government engaged in bilateral or
multilateral negotiations with other governments to enhance asset
tracing freezing and seizure?

-- The uniform law provides that the sharing of seized narcotics
assets with other governments can be negotiated on a case-by-case
basis. Guinea-Bissau is required by the uniform law on money
laundering to freely exchange information with the FIUs of each of
the WAEMU countries, although at present only Senegal and Niger have
a functioning FIU.

Question 58: Has the country adopted laws or regulations that allows
for the exchange of records with the United States on narcotics and
narcotics related money laundering, as well all-source money
laundering, terrorism and terrorist financing investigations and
proceedings? Has the jurisdiction reached agreement with the United
States authorities on a mechanism for exchange of records in
connection with such investigations and proceedings? If not, is the
country negotiating in good faith with the United States to
establish such an exchange mechanism? Does the jurisdiction have
similar arrangements with other jurisdictions?

-- With respect to money laundering, the uniform AML law provides
that the FIU may enter into cooperation accords with other FIUs.
The law also contains extensive provisions for the exchange of
information on a judicial level. These provisions comport with
international standards.

Question 59: Identify all treaties, agreements, or other mechanisms
for information exchange that host country has entered into with the
USG or other countries, including agreements between the FIU and its
counterparts, and those with home country supervisors to facilitate
the exchange of supervisory information regarding banks and trust
companies operating in the host country. Describe the status of

efforts to update such agreements or arrangements.

-- Not known.

Question 60: Has the country cooperated, when requested, with
appropriate law enforcement agencies of the USG and other
governments investigating financial crimes related to narcotics,
terrorism, terrorist financing and other crimes? If the country has
cooperated on important cases with USG agencies, please describe.

-- Not known.

Question 61: Please detail any instances of refusals to cooperate
with foreign governments, as well as any action taken by the USG and
any international organization to address such obstacles, including
the imposition of sanctions or penalties?

-- Mission is unaware of any refusals to cooperate with foreign
governments in routine cases.

Question 62: Is the country a party to the UN International
Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and
Psychotropic Substances (Vienna Convention), the UN Convention
against Transnational Organized Crime, and, the UN Convention
against Corruption or other applicable agreements and conventions?
Does it adhere to relevant international money laundering standards,
such as the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force, the
policy directive of the EC, and the legislative guidelines of the
OAS and/or other similar declarations? If so, what steps is it
taking to implement them? If not, what, if any, steps are the
country taking to become a party or implement?

-- Guinea-Bissau is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention, has
signed and ratified the UN Convention against Transnational
Organized Crime, and has not signed or ratified the UN Convention
against Corruption. The status of the 1999 UN International
Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and the
African Union Convention on Terrorism Finance is not known. The
uniform AML law largely meets the FATF recommendations for money
laundering, and Guinea-Bissau is attempting to implement them
through, inter alia, the installation of an FIU.


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