The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has called for a robust regulatory environment and strong financial compliance system to prevent activities of money laundering and terrorist funding activities in the sub region.
“Our continent has been denied funds of up to about $88 billion through illicit financial flow, as reported by the United Nations Conference of Trade and Development(UNCTAD) in 2020, largely through financial institutions, multinational companies and high net worth individuals who do business in Africa,” he added.
He said these outflows, if curtailed, could be channelled into developmental projects and rebuilding economies.
Dr Bawumia stated this in a speech read on his behalf by Senior Presidential Advisor, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, at the closing ceremony of the 36th Group against Money Laundering in West Africa(GIABA) /Technical Commission/plenary meeting in Accra last Saturday.
The three-day meeting served as forum for a discussion among technical experts of the threats and challenges associated with money laundering andTerrorist Financing in the West African sub region.
The Vice President said money laundering and terrorist financing continued to pose enormous threat to global socio-economic development and peace and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region was no exception.
“Currently, being a major region of concern regarding terrorist financing and recent activities, Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso and the failed attempt in Guinea-Bissau,” he added.
Dr Bawumia stressed the need to strengthen collaboration among member states to counter money laundering and terrorist financing.
He said the region was endowed with enormous resources and “our ability to harness same in an effective manner will go a long way in enhancing the socio-economic well-being of our people.”
“We have the responsibility to stop the flow of illicit finance, which will cut down the outflow of funds to these group instead, channelling same into our development and recovery, ‘’he added.
He commended GIABA for strengthening the capacity of member states in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing on the sub-region
Dr Bawumia assured GIABA of Ghana’s commitment towards the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing in West Africa and beyond.
The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, said the UNCTAD estimated that of $31.5 billion Illicit Financial Flows ( IFFs) generated annually in conflict areas, 96 per cent was used by organised criminal groups, including violent fuel conflict.
“An estimated 2-5 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or between $800 billion-$2 trillion in current US dollars is lost to money laundering globally. This amount is almost 120 per cent of the GDP of ECOWAS region,” he added.
Mr Ofori-Atta said there was the urgent need for concerted effort from all relevant stakeholders to help cut the funding source for these terrorist group.
The Minister said member states must work to ensure that proper frameworks and institutional mechanisms were put in place to ensure they did not lose out on international trade transactions, experience significant capital loss and channel developmental funds towards terrorist activities.
The Director-General of GIABA, Justice Kimelabalou ABA, commended President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as ECOWAS chairman for the initiatives to develop a lasting solution to the current problems in the region.
He said the meeting was held at a delicate period where the region was witnessing the resurgence of military coups which were adversely impacting all measures designed to fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
Justice ABA stated that an effective legal and institutional Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing Terrorism regime protected the financial systems and the economy in general from the threats of money laundering, terrorism and proliferation financing which in turn enhances the integrity of financial sector and strengthens the security and safety of our member states.
BY ANITA NYARKO-YIRENKYI