Money laundering in Ghana: Voters, National Health Insurance cards most used

RemittancesThe Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) of the Bank of Ghana, has found that the voters and National Health Insurance ID cards are the most used in cases of suspected money laundering.

The FIC in its 2014 annual report indicates that it received 310 Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) which is a decline from the previous year’s 356.

The Centre disseminated 86 STRs in that year, also a decline from the 225 in 2013.

The Centre also found that in the year 2014, 246 STRs were filed on individuals while 64 STRs were filed on organizations, constituting about 79.35 per cent and 20.65 per cent respectively.

The predominant nationalities of the subjects were Ghanaians and Nigerians, among others, it said.

While Ghana acknowledges an increase in money laundering activities, lack of trust among institutions fighting the menace is stifling efforts to combat it effectively.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Centre, Mr Samuel T. Essel, has been cited in news reports elsewhere saying trust deficit among the institutions is making it difficult to fight the menace.

“What is even more worrisome is that, instead of competent authorities developing the necessary synergies to combat transnational crime, there are reported cases of trust deficit, which rather disrupt the defined courses of law enforcement, thereby, rendering nugatory, the desired effectiveness,” he was quoted by the GNA to have said.

He also said criminals are concealing their illicit proceeds by investing in legitimate businesses through a number of schemes in the banks, other financial institutions, businesses and professions.

He indicated that criminals take advantage of the situation and operate with impunity, a situation, which could result in criminals taking over state power if not checked.

Ghana passed the Anti-Money Laundering (Amendment) Act, 2014 (Act 874) and Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act, 2014 (Act 875) to adequately address the lacuna or gap identified in the existing laws to conform to international standards and best practices.

These included: Expansion of the definition and scope of Money Laundering; Expansion of the objects and functions of the Centre; Thorough due diligence to be undertaken by accountable institutions; Retention and record keeping by businesses, customers and beneficial ownership; Regulation of Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions; To clarify the power of the High court to order funds of terrorists to be frozen.

Meanwhile, according to the annual report, Ghana has only successfully prosecuted two people for money laundering so far.

There is also no data on how much money is laundered into the country.

The National Health Insurance Card has been in contention recently. The use of that card to register to vote in the country is being questioned at the Supreme Court.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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