Ghana needs strong financial systems to combat money laundering – BoG

Ghana needs a strong and viable financial systems to check money laundering, combat financial terrorism in the banking sector, Head of Financial Integrity   Office, Bank of Ghana, Mr George Nkrumah, has said. 

“The high standard of Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financial Terrorism (AML/CFT&P) compliance by financial institutions is vital in ensuring a sustainable regime requisite for financial stability. Due diligence is key, when you get it wrong, you will get all wrong, ” he said.

Mr Nkrumah stated these on Monday in Takoradi when he delivered the keynote address at a two-day sensitisation workshop for Rural and Community Banks (RCBs), Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) and representatives of Ghana Association of Microfinance Companies in Western and Central regions.

Overall, the workshop will ensure the registration of institutions on the GoAML platform to drastically improve reporting to the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) by institutions in the sector and also enhance collaboration between competent authorities.

The GoAML application is a fully integrated software solution developed specifically for use by Financial Intelligence Units (FIU’s) by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Mr Nkrumah said, institutions needed to put in place measures to ensure that their systems were fraud- free, adding that, the BoG was desirous to ensure discipline in the banking sector.

Institutions, he reminded participants, should ensure that they were compliant with the regulations for an effective financial sector especially by double-checking the identity of customers  and that of third parties.

“If you don’t comply,  you can be penalised to about 100,000 penalty units, and one penalty unit, is GHc12.00. Apart from the appropriate penalties, we can also revoke your license or we also do ‘name and shaming’ by publishing our findings, ” he said.

He said “There are laws and regulations and the BoG would strive to ensure strict compliance together with Financial Intelligence Centre. We need to avoid the short -cuts  which do not help the system.”

He noted that, the demands of the banking sector meant that all stakeholders should come together to discuss issues that were of importance to the sector and the country.

He recalled that, as part of its continual engagement with Regulated Financial Institutions (RFIs), the BoG, last year, in collaboration with  FIC, ARB Apex Bank and a resource person,  provided hands-on training on how to develop Internal Risk Assessment Frameworks for the lower tiered institution including RCBs and MFIs.

This year, Mr Nkrumah indicated that,  the BoG was building on inroads made last year by engaging RCBs and MFIs to support the expansion of Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing (ML/FT) risk assessment methodology of the Bank  across the country.

He announced training programs in both   Northern and Middle belts had successfully been completed,  and that  it, was now the turn of the southern belt.

In June, this year, he reported that,  Ghana came off the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list after the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG)conducted its on-site examination on Ghana in May.

Mr Nkrumah said, “To remain off the grey list, stakeholders in the fight against Money Laundering and Financial Terrorism (ML/TF) we  will have to ensure compliance with the legal provisions of the laws and regulations in building and sustaining a robust Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financial Terrorism and Proliferations (AML/CFT&P) regime.”

 “Ghana is reasonably compliant with the technical requirements of AML/CFT&P the emphasis of the regulator is on effectiveness of supervisory activities, and preventive measures. Sensitisation workshops are key in equipping accountable institutions to acquire relevant expertise and knowledge in ensuring AML/CFT&P compliance, ” he said.

He applauded the crucial role the FIC continued to play in partnering the Bank to train and sensitise  Regulated Financial Institutions (RFIs) and also the contribution of the ARB Apex Bank on compliance with the AML/CFT&P laws by RCBs.

FROM CLEMENT ADZEI BOYE, TAKORADI

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