Business News of Friday, 1 October 2010

Source: Daily Guide

Ghana To Be Blacklisted Over Money Laundering

GHANA MAY be blacklisted for its poor anti-money laundering record if necessary institutional mechanisms and laws are not put in place and enforced to check illicit money from coming into the country, according to expert analysis.

The Director of Legislative Drafting Division at the Attorney-General’s Department of the Ministry of Justice, Estelle Matilda Appiah, who made the observation, pointed out Ghana was not doing well with respect to money laundering, as the country had been rated poorly by an international organisation.

Delivering a paper on ‘The Impact of Money Laundering on National Security’ at a lecture organised by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra yesterday, Mrs. Appiah indicated Ghana was compliant in only two out of 49 areas of study, according to a rating done in April 2009 by the Inter-Governmental Action Force Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).

The country, she pointed out, was found grossly wanting in areas of enforcing money transfer rules, confiscation and provisional measures, customer due diligence, politically exposed persons, correspondence banking and unusual transactions.

Mechanisms for tracking capital inflows into the country, Mrs. Appiah lamented, are so weak that people bring large sums of dubious foreign currency into the country without being questioned about the sources of these monies.

She feared such tainted funds are sometimes donated to churches or religious bodies, political parties or used in buying real estate and motor vehicles.

According to her, money launderers look for countries where there are flexible security rules, ineffective monitoring, thriving black market, exchange control weakness, limited asset seizure or confiscation authority and established non-bank financial institutions among others.

She called on political authorities to show ample commitment to fighting money laundering, as the menace has the potential of creating national security problems, leading to a breakdown of law and order.

Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2008 (Act 749) was passed by Parliament, criminalizing the canker with the establishment of Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC).

The FIC, which is supposed to be the heart of anti-money laundering, is to identify tainted funds, provide and exchange information with relevant institutions about money laundering.

But Mrs. Appiah said until the centre is properly set up, fighting corruption effectively would be difficult.

She said at the movement, there are only two officers working at the centre without the needed supporting regulations; therefore monitoring and gathering of information on money laundering may not be effective.