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Despite efforts at tackling money laundering, Ghana lags behind, attracts negative rating – Amissah-Arthur

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Amissah-Arthur - Governor of Bank of Ghana

Ghana is said to be lagging behind in its fight against money laundering and the country is attracting negative rating from global and regional agencies responsible for setting standards in Anti-Money Laundering and the Combating of the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) issues, the governor of the Bank of Ghana has said.

Speaking at the launch of a guideline on AML/CFT for banks and non-bank financial institutions in Accra Wednesday January 4, 2012, Mr. Kwesi Amissah-Arthur said the launch follows a similar one for the capital market operators by the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 20, 2011.

Mr. Amissah-Arthur expressed the hope that the insurance sector will follow with its own AML/CFT guidelines to complete the cycle of providing a rigorous framework for minimizing, if not eliminating altogether, the misuse of the financial system for illegal activities.

He indicated that with growing financial intermediation and access, there has also been an escalation in the abuse of the financial system by criminal elements. “This has led to increased attempts by governments, monetary authorities and international agencies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing (AML/CFT),” he said.

“We are taking a number of initiatives to insulate our banking and financial systems from the menace of money laundering,” he said.

According to him, since the passage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act in 2008, a number of initiatives have been pursued to meet international standards with respect to AML/CFT.

These, he said, include:

·    The development of a National Strategy and Action Plan
·    The creation of an Anti-Money Laundering unit in the Bank of Ghana
·    The Bank has also sponsored the establishment of the FIC by seconding personnel, providing office accommodation and vehicles.

“In spite of these initiatives,” he said,  “Ghana still lags behind other countries and attracts negative rating from global and regional agencies responsible for setting standards in AML/CFT issues.”

Mr. Amissah-Arthur admitted that the issues to be addressed in order to comply with international standards are many, some of whose resolution lie beyond the regulatory authorities.

He also said the Bank of Ghana is committed to co-operating with other agencies to remove the remaining obstacles that limit the fight against financial crimes and the abuse of the banking system.

“Particularly important is banks’ compliance with customer due diligence requirements consistent with recommendation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF),” he said.

He was hopeful that counterpart regulators and other government agencies involved in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing will play their roles to ensure that Ghana not only meets international standards but also rids its banking and financial system of negative practices, such as the collusion of staff in perpetrating fraud and the failure of banks to comply with law, regulation and advice.

The document was jointly prepared by the Bank of Ghana and the Financial Intelligence Centre.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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