Morocco has put in place an effective strategy aimed at training law enforcement officers to fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, said Minister of Justice Mohamed Ben Abdelkader.
“This strategy aims to get the legal professionals — lawyers, notaries, and Adouls (religious notaries) — to adhere to national efforts in the fight against money laundering, especially when used to finance terrorism,” he said.
Ben Abdelkader made the statement on Friday, September 18, during a conference in Safi, 160 kilometers west of Marrakech, to discuss the role of lawyers in the fight against terrorism. The Ministry of Justice organized the meeting in collaboration with the bar association of Safi.
According to the minister, “money laundering suspicions remain low among legal professions, compared to financial organizations.”
However, lawyers still need to implement several measures to prevent money laundering and raise awareness about the issue, Ben Abdelkader added.
Money laundering can have significant negative impacts on Morocco and its economy, he continued.
While discussing the complexity of crimes related to money laundering and terrorist financing, Ben Abdelkader said Morocco’s legal framework in this area allows lawyers and prosecutors to prevent the crimes.
In this regard, the minister recalled Morocco’s creation of a Financial Intelligence Processing Unit (UTRF) in 2009. The department, which joined the global Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units in 2011, offers technical assistance to lawyers and prosecutors through the sharing of suspicious financial activity.
Ben Abdelkader promised to organize meetings in the future, in coordination with the UTRF and regional bar associations, to explain the regulations framing the UTRF’s work and how workers in the legal field can benefit from the unit’s services.
New legal text
Moving on from the financial intelligence unit, the minister revealed that his department is currently working on a new law. The legal text intends to strengthen Morocco’s position at the international level in the field of fighting against money laundering. It also seeks to increase the country’s attractiveness to foreign investors.
The Moroccan Parliament is currently examining and discussing the new law, Ben Abdelkader said.
The minister concluded his speech by announcing the publication of a report to evaluate Morocco’s strategy against money laundering and terrorist financing.
The president of the bar association in Safi, Khalil Lamhoual, reiterated some of Ben Abdelkader’s points, adding that Morocco’s strategy is characterized by an adaptive, participatory, and integrated approach in the fight against money laundering.
The lawyer also expressed his association’s support to the ongoing national efforts against this type of crime.
Friday’s meeting was the second of its kind after a first one organized last week in Rabat.
The meetings came soon after Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ) dismantled a terrorist cell. In a coordinated operation, security services arrested five alleged terrorists, aged between 29 and 43, in Tangier, Temara, and Tiflet.
According to BCIJ, the terrorist cell was at an advanced stage of planning attacks and already had weapons and equipment that threatened national security.