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Stakeholders in banking sector intensify efforts to reduce money laundering

Stakeholders in Ghana’s banking sector are advocating for more support from various sectors of the economy to tackle money laundering in Ghana.

This menace, which has resulted in Ghana’s current position on the European Union’s grey list, can limit many transactions with other countries if not checked.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the initiative set up to tackle money laundering globally, grey lists a country which it considers as a safe haven for terror funding and money laundering, as a warning to the country to tackle the menace.

Any country which finds its way onto the Task Force’s grey list automatically appears on the European Union’s (EU) list too.

In order for a country to be delisted, it must show a strong commitment to addressing the menace.

On 7th May 2020, the European Commission cited Ghana as one of four African countries listed by the EU for money laundering breaches and terror financing concerns.

Since then, all financial transactions in and out of Ghana have been under greater scrutiny.

As of now, Ghana is almost done with working out its action plan which, if approved by the Financial Action Task Force, will relieve the country of its position on the grey list.

As part of efforts to tackle the money laundering menace to get Ghana off the list, stakeholders in the banking sector are raising awareness to get everyone on board in solving the problem.

The Managing Director of CalBank, Philip Owiredu, is hopeful that foreign investors will not cancel transactions with Ghanaian companies due to Ghana’s position on the grey list.

He said this at the CalBank Leadership Conversation held on Wednesday, November 4, 2020.

“Data provided by GIPC shows a growth of over 400 percent in foreign direct investment for the first half of 2020. This news is exciting and shows the growth potential of the country. However, with the placement of Ghana on the grey list, we are cautious of the potential detriment effect and the potential decrease in foreign investments with its rippling effect on our industry and ultimately, the Ghanaian economy.”

He continued, “It is our expectation that foreign investors will keep faith by not rushing to pull their investments from Ghana as the government works to get the country off the grey list. This would largely depend on the actions we collectively as nation take to forge forward together.”

Mr. Owiredu further advocated for proper regulations in the telecommunications sector to check money laundering which emanates through mobile money. He spoke to Citi Business News on the sidelines of the event.

He said, “Movement of funds on the mobile money platform especially where we have this issue of SIM registration and being able to identify movement of funds to people is a very critical thing that has to be dealt with. But I think at the end of the day, it all boils down to regulation; whoever is responsible to ensure that that sector is regulated very well. The Central Bank and National Communications Authority are involved. Whatever has to be done to ensure that their regulated SIM cards are well registered and identifiable to ensure transparency in these platforms has to be done.”

The Head of Financial Stability Department of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Joseph France, urged institutions to report suspicious cases of possible money laundering.

“If we have a seamless and transparent system that something comes to you and you don’t expose, you yourself will be exposed. In the banks, for instance, if something comes to you and you don’t report, somebody will come and check what you have done and it will come out. So it is incumbent on you to report or you’ll be in trouble later on. The structures must be in place.”

The CalBank Leadership Conversation was on the theme, “Grey listing of Ghana by EU and AML Deficiencies: Implications and Lessons”.

Other panelists for the discussion included the CEO of the Financial Intelligence Centre, Kwaku. Dua, and the CEO of Ghana Association of Bankers, John Awuah.

A Deputy Finance Minister, Kwaku Agyemang Kwarteng giving the keynote speech, explained what it meant to be grey listed by the FATF and how far Ghana is into getting off the list.

The First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Opoku Afare was the guest speaker.

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