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Banks operating in Ghana have been urged to step up their efforts in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing to avert the country being blacklisted again.
Speaking at the opening of the Westland branch of the Standard Chartered Bank in Accra, Mr Nicholas Okoe Sai, Advisor, Bank of Ghana (BOG) said the Central Bank and other relevant institutions ensured that adequate regulatory and measures were taken to remove the country from the black list.
Some of the actions taken included the ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, enactment of Anti-Terrorism Regulations, 2012, and passage of the Economic and Organised Crime Office operations regulations.
“We should not renege on our responsibilities, what the Bank of Ghana needs from all banks and financial intermediaries are effective cooperation and collaboration,” Mr Sai said.
Last February Ghana was put on the list of countries lacking international standards to prevent money laundering.
However, the Financial Action Task Force lifted Ghana out of the blacklist, citing satisfaction with steps taken by the country’s Financial Intelligence Centre after the launching of guidelines on anti money laundering for the various arms in the financial sector including banking, insurance and the capital market.
Mr Sai said the removal of Ghana from the blacklist was very refreshing and urged the banks to put in place measures to halt illegal transactions.
Touching on banks recapitalisation, he said since 2008 when the BOG introduced the policy, majority of the banks have increased their capital to the minimum required level of GH¢60 million.
Mr Sai said all except five banks had met the new minimum capitalisation.
“Of the five remaining banks, four have submitted credible capitalisation plans and evidence of the inflow of such capital is being verified by the Banking Supervision Department, while the last one is expected to do so shortly,” he said.
He said while the minimum capital for existing banks has not been increased new institutions to enter the market would be expected to bring in higher capital than the regulatory minimum, to offer enough cushion to underwrite risk and also compensate for erosion in the value of the regulatory minimum, since it was set few years ago.
Mr Kweku Bedu-Addo, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Ghana said the bank’s strategy is to provide responsive, innovative and creative financial solutions to customers blending local expertise with international experience.
“A branch opening is always a very unique endeavour, it highlights the fact that the bank is moving closer to its customers, signifying the idea that it is committed to staying with its customers through thick and thin times,” he said.