Professor Newman Kusi, Special Assistant to the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, on Monday called for the collaboration and full cooperation of financial institutions to eliminate money laundering and terrorist financing.
He said currently the aim of achieving the elimination of the “monster” had become very difficult, as financial institutions were often accused of shielding perpetrators, thereby compromising with the heinous crimes.
He said financial institutions were expected to develop and implement strong policies and programmes aimed at exposing perpetrators of such crimes.
Prof. Kusi, who stood in for Dr Kwabena Duffuor, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning at the opening of a four-day regional workshop for training supervisors on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) for Anglophone ECOWAS Member states in Accra, said Ghana had initiated several policies and guidelines to counter such activities, but needed the support of all stakeholders for successful enforcement.
The workshop, which is being organised by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), in collaboration with the World Bank would enhance AML/CFT compliance supervision and ensure that resources for financing terrorist activities were curtailed.
Prof. Kusi said the operators of such organised crimes were currently exploring and using more sophisticated strategies to outwit authorities hence the need for constant training to keep enforcement agencies on their toes.
He mentioned interventions against such crimes as the “Know Your Customer” Guidelines of 2005 and the Foreign Exchange Act of 2006 and an authority granted to the Bank of Ghana to impose restrictions on the import and export of foreign exchange and the requirement that all foreign exchange payments transactions in Ghana be made through a bank.
Prof. Kusi, however, said the coming of an Anti-Money Laundering (AML) law in Ghana suffered inordinate delay, given that the country had been in the forefront of political and economic reforms in Africa.
He added that now that the law had been passed, the country could look forward to working hard for its effective implementation.
Prof. Kusi said apart from the AML law, other legislations and regulations relevant to the AML/CFT framework included the Narcotics Drug Control Enforcement and Sanctions Law of 1990 (PNDCL 236), the Foreign Exchange Act of 2006, the Banking Amendment Act of 2007 and the Criminal Code.
Dr Buno E. Iduka, Representative of the Director-General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), said the organisation was established by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 2000 to ensure the adoption of standards against money laundering and the financing of terrorism in accordance with acceptable international standards and practices.
He said trans-national organised crime is one of the major threats to international peace and security and undermined the overall development of society.
Dr Iduka said money laundering and terrorism financing were part of the manifestations of this threat saying that whereas money laundering was a derivative crime, the financing of terrorism was a reversed form of money laundering as it may involve both legitimate and illegitimate wealth.
“Both crimes undermine development by eroding social and human capital, affecting social and political stability, causing an artificial rise in the cost of business and thus driving away business and investment,” he said.
Dr Iduka said West Africa, one of the poorest and most neglected regions of the world, was faced with a major challenge in its vulnerability to trans-national organised crime and its limited capacity to respond effectively to this threat.
Ms Marilyne Pereisa Goncalves, Financial Expert, World Bank, assured stakeholders of the Bank’s continuous assistance and involvement in all programmes geared towards the elimination of money laundering and financing terrorism.