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General News of Monday, 15 June 2009

Source: The Catalyst

Nigerian Mafia Attacks Ghana’s Economy

• Money Laundering Booming In Ghana

• But Where Is Bank Of Ghana?

Various opinions have been expressed as to why the cedi had continued to depreciate against the major currencies in the past months. However, even though it is taken place on a massive scale and in a sustained manner as shown by documents intercepted by your authoritative, The Catalyst, the experts are yet to forcefully drive home the point that money laundering is a major factor responsible for the current down turn of the Ghanaian currency.

Information in the possession of The Catalyst shows that some Nigerian nationals have been engaged in a major money laundering activity in Ghana over the last few months. They carry out their nefarious activities relying on the services of some banks in Nigeria and Ghana.

Some finance experts spoken to by this paper express discontent about the seeming lack of proper supervision by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) in monitoring the money transfer activities of banks in the country. This, they said, could be responsible for what they described as the rot in the system. They said it was possible that the act could have contributed immensely to the depreciation of the cedi in the last few months.

Their modus operandi is simple. The criminals come to Ghana to withdraw Ghana cedis from accounts they opened in several banks back home in Nigeria for the sole purpose of drawing Ghana cedis here in Ghana, which are subsequently changed into US dollars for transfer back to Nigeria through various banks for sale to the parallel market in that country at a higher rate for profit. Our documents indicate that investigations by one of the banks in the country, following the detection of some anomaly, revealed that between 1st March and 22nd April this year, transactions undertaken in its Ghana branch by its Nigerian customers have instances where more than one hundred withdrawals were done on specific accounts within the period.

Several banks, according to this paper’s checks, have been licensed by BoG to provide money transfer services to its clients up to $10, 000 per individual per day. But it is left to be seen as to how effectively the BoG is supervising the banks in this respect such that unscrupulous persons do not take undue advantage of the facility to abuse the system to the disadvantage of the country’s economy.

Money laundering considered a mafia crime is a main operation of the underground economy, and is a bane of all economies. Information available to this paper shows that the practice is widespread in Ghana presently than meet the eye. Even though one cannot attribute the current fall of the cedi entirely to money laundering, it is worrying to note that some banks operating in the country seem to be facilitating the business of the launders.

The BoG and others responsible must step up their supervisory role especially in respect of the money transfer activities of banks in the country. They must thoroughly check against unacceptable conducts in the banks in order to sanitise the system by plugging all the loopholes that enable these unscrupulous elements in society to bring down the country’s economy.

When The Catalyst contacted the Bank of Ghana for its comments, the paper has been told to prepare a questionnaire formerly to the secretary of the central bank, which process is ongoing.

The Catalyst is pursuing this story further and will bring to readers’ attention more revelations in its next publication.

Which banks are involved? Which individuals are involved? What is their modus operandi? Stay tuned for these details in our subsequent editions. Source: The Catalyst