The Gambia is not on the FATF List of Countries that have been identified as having strategic AML deficiencies
Compliance with FATF Recommendations
The latest follow-up Mutual Evaluation Report relating to the implementation of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing standards in The Gambia was undertaken in 2014. According to that Evaluation, The Gambia was deemed Compliant for 4 and Largely Compliant for 8 of the FATF 40 + 9 Recommendations. It was Partially Compliant or Non-Compliant for 5 of the 6 Core Recommendations.
US Department of State Money Laundering assessment (INCSR)
The Gambia was deemed a ‘Monitored’ Jurisdiction by the US Department of State 2016 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR). Key Findings from the report are as follows: -
The Gambia is not a regional financial center, although it is a regional re-export center. The Gambia derives most of its GDP from agriculture, tourism, remittances, and the re-export trade, with most transactions conducted in cash. Goods and capital are freely and legally traded in The Gambia, and, as is the case in other re-export centers, smuggling of goods occurs. Although The Gambia has limited capacity to monitor its porous borders, customs officials cooperate with counterparts in Senegal to combat smuggling along their common border. A lack of resources hinders law enforcement’s ability to combat smuggling more effectively.
It is unclear to what extent money laundering is related to narcotics, but seizures of large amounts of cocaine and marijuana two years ago heightened concerns regarding links to international drug trafficking. The number of new banks entering the local market in the past few years - there are currently a total of 12 commercial banks operating in The Gambia - also raises possible money laundering concerns. These concerns are further heightened by the problems of persistently weak bank controls and supervision, the dominance of cash transactions, a poor know-your-customer compliance culture, and significant inflows of tourists.
There are no international sanctions currently in force against this country.
BRIBERY & CORRUPTION
Rating (100-Good / 0-Bad)
Transparency International Corruption Index 37
World Governance Indicator – Control of Corruption 27
The government has invested strongly in the agriculture sector because three-quarters of the population depends on the sector for its livelihood and agriculture provides for another one-fifth of GDP. The agricultural sector has untapped potential - less than half of arable land is cultivated. Small-scale manufacturing activity features the processing of peanuts, fish, and hides. The Gambia's re-export trade accounts for almost 80% of goods exports and China has been its largest trade partner for both exports and imports for several years.
The Gambia has sparse natural resource deposits and a limited agricultural base. It relies heavily on remittances from workers overseas and tourist receipts. Remittance inflows to The Gambia amount to about one-fifth of the country’s GDP. The Gambia's natural beauty and proximity to Europe has made it one of the larger tourist destinations in West Africa, boosted by government and private sector investments in eco-tourism and upscale facilities. Tourism normally brings in about 20% of GDP, but suffered in 2014 from tourists’ fears of Ebola virus in neighbouring West African countries. Unemployment and underemployment remain high.
Economic progress depends on sustained bilateral and multilateral aid, on responsible government economic management, and on continued technical assistance from multilateral and bilateral donors. International donors and lenders continue to be concerned about the quality of fiscal management. The IMF provided $10.8 million in emergency financial assistance to The Gambia in April 2015 to shore up the country’s finances. Relations with international donors have been tarnished by the country’s human rights record.
Agriculture - products:
rice, millet, sorghum, peanuts, corn, sesame, cassava (manioc, tapioca), palm kernels; cattle, sheep, goats
peanuts, fish, hides, tourism, beverages, agricultural machinery assembly, woodworking, metalworking, clothing
Exports - commodities:
peanut products, fish, cotton lint, palm kernels
Exports - partners:
China 47.6%, India 27.2%, France 5.9%, UK 4.9% (2015)
Imports - commodities:
foodstuffs, manufactures, fuel, machinery and transport equipment
Imports - partners:
China 34.2%, Brazil 8.1%, Senegal 6.9%, India 5.7%, Netherlands 4.8% (2015)
Investment Climate - US State Department
The Gambia has an active private sector and the government welcomes investment in all sectors of the economy. However, eight have been identified as "priority sectors," which attract a Special Investment Certificate (SIC) that provides a number of incentives including duty waivers. The eight sectors are agriculture, air services, energy, fisheries, Information Communication Technology (ICT), light manufacturing, river transportation and tourism.
There is a government agency dedicated to attracting foreign investment and promoting exports that provides guidelines and incentives to all investors whose portfolios qualify for a SIC. There is no legal distinction between the treatment of foreign and domestic investors but anti-Western discourse emanating from senior government officials has been of concern to many private sector operators.
The Gambia is a small market compared to some of its West African neighbors. There is a visible presence of foreign investors with significant investments in sectors including financial services where many Nigerian banks have established branches in the past 10 years. The tourism sector also continues to attract investments in hotel development with many new three- and four-star hotels. The energy sector, particularly power generation, transmission and distribution has attracted investments from Lebanon and Malaysia. There is a noticeable presence of Turkish and East Asian businessmen selling electronic goods and home appliances. There is also a growing interest in petroleum exploration particularly after the recent discoveries announced in neighboring Senegal.
There are opportunities for investment in various sectors such as tourism and the hotel industry as well as agriculture for the larger West African market. There are also opportunities for cashew processing with one of West Africa’s biggest cashew growers, Guinea Bissau, less than a day away by truck.
The government, however, has a poor human rights reputation that has dampened investment prospects. After passage in 2014 of a draconian law mandating life imprisonment for persons engaging in acts of "aggravated homosexuality," denying access to UN Special Rapporteurs investigating reports of torture and extrajudicial executions, and ongoing reports of arbitrary arrests of journalists, human rights advocates, and civil servants, the U.S. government on December 24, 2014 suspended The Gambia from eligibility to participate as a trade beneficiary under the provisions of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
As a result of U.S. expressions of concern about The Gambia's human rights record and the AGOA suspension, the government on December 29, 2014 issued a written directive to all Ministries, Government Departments and Agencies instructing that issues regarding agricultural matters and national strategic development objectives should no longer be discussed with U.S. authorities. The directive added that this information be disseminated to all Civil Servants working at the respective institutions. The practical effect of this directive has been to limit the ability of U.S. Embassy personnel to have substantive discussions with Gambian officials without their interlocutors’ first receiving permission to meet. These restrictions severely limit the ability of U.S. Embassy personnel to advocate on behalf of American companies and individuals seeking to do business in The Gambia.
The country has a functioning bank system, although in May 2014, the Central Bank took control over two Nigerian-owned banks due to concerns over bad assets and issues with capital reserves. The international parent of one of those two banks recapitalized the local subsidiary and the Central Bank relinquished control. There are currently no restrictions on the conversion of funds. Investors may repatriate profits and dividends through commercial banks or licensed money transfer agencies at prevailing exchange rates. Bank customers can also open foreign currency denominated accounts (FCDs).
Gambian law provides the legal framework for the protection of private ownership of property and for adequate and prompt compensation in the event of compulsory acquisition. However, in January 2013, the Gambian government cancelled petroleum exploration, development and production licenses awarded to at least two foreign oil companies. One of the licenses was reinstated in early 2015 and there has been no public discussion of any type of settlement with the other companies. There have been several land disputes over the past year involving the government and private owners. Most remain unresolved, with private property owners having few if any legal options if their property is seized.
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