São Tomé and Príncipe

São Tomé and Príncipe flag São Tomé and Príncipe

The Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe (STP), a Portuguese-speaking island nation, is not considered to be in West Africa, and is not a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). However, the country is located in the Gulf of Guinea, off the Western equatorial coast of Central Africa, very close to Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) region, off the coast of Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

The discovery of oil in STP’s territorial waters is projected to lead to substantial revenues with the oil industry contributing a large portion of the gross domestic product (GDP). As oil exploration commences, the likelihood of more inflows both legitimate and illegitimate to STP is high, thus, the vulnerability of the country to the risks of ML/TF, particularly through the financial system.

The country was identified by the FATF as a jurisdiction with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies. As a result, the FATF has issued a public statement on STP since 2008. In addition, in February 2010, the country was referred to the Regional Review Group (RRG) by the FATF for a more focused or “target” review of its AML/CFT regime. The country was also directed by the FATF to engage with GIABA for membership of the FSRB, as a result of its proximity to the GIABA region of West Africa and given that the country was not a member of the FATF or any FSRB.

Consequently, STP submitted a preliminary application for membership of GIABA, and in May 2008, the country was granted an observer status, in accordance with the 2006 Revised Statutes of GIABA. The 16th meeting of GIABA’s Technical Committee/Plenary noted the efforts being made by STP and its commitment to implement robust AML/CFT measures of acceptable international standards, and decided to admit the country into GIABA as a full member. At its 12th meeting in Accra, Ghana, on 11 May 2013, the GIABA Ministerial Committee (GMC) endorsed this decision and STP was admitted as a full member of GIABA, subject to the fulfillment of its financial obligations.