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May 31, 2012 at 10:08am
Money Laundering Destabilises Sustainable Economic Development - Minister
The Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Kwabena Duffuor, has noted that money laundering undermined the sustainable development of economies, eroded the social cohesion of communities and led to conflicts in the body politic of nations.

Dr Duffuor, therefore, reiterated government’s commitment to fighting money laundering, terrorist financing and other transnational crimes as well as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, noting, however, that the fight required the active support and participation of all stakeholders—both public and private.

The Finance and Economic Planning Minister was delivering the keynote address at the Regional Awareness-raising Workshop in Accra for Chief Executives of Commercial Banks and Chief Compliance Officers of Financial Institutions in West Africa on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT).

In an address, the Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Mr Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, disclosed that the Bank of Ghana had sought to deal with the implementation of AML/CFT rules by supporting the establishment and operation of Financial Intelligence Centres (FICs) which were fully functional.

Mr Amissah-Arthur said the establishment of the FICs had been complemented with the opening of an AML/CFT office within the banking supervision system to lead the Bank’s own efforts in spearheading AML/CFT matters in the banking and non-bank financial system.

He said following the downgrading of Ghana in February 2012, all banks had been requested by their correspondents to institute enhanced due diligence on certain customers, as a result of which compliance officers had been swarmed with additional work to follow up on transactions and customers.

He gave the assurance that the BoG had the responsibility of protecting the integrity and smooth running of the banking industry and that the BoG had introduced a framework for ensuring that the banking system was devoid of criminals.

In a welcome address read on his behalf, Dr Abdullah Shehu, Director-General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), said the implementation of a robust AML/CFT regime required a concerted, co-ordinated, collaborative and co-operative effort.

Dr Shehu noted that criminals exploited the opportunity offered to abuse financial institutions and stressed the need for recommendations that would facilitate the commitment of financial institutions to implementing effective AML/CFT regimes.

He said in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, financial institutions were the first line of defence, hence the need to put in place measures to prevent criminals from misusing the financial system.

He noted that the recommendations of the revised international AML/CFT standards placed enormous responsibilities on financial institutions by requiring them to ensure the implementation of effective AML/CFT compliance systems.

In a message, Mr Thompson Essel, Chief Executive Officer of the FIC, underscored the importance of the workshop, saying it came against the background of the public statement issued by the Financial Actions Task Force (FATF) on Ghana, Nigeria and Sao Tome and Principe, cautioning FATF member states to consider the risks associated with the strategic deficiencies in their AML/CFT.

The workshop, organized by GIABA, is one of the platforms that help stakeholders to keep abreast of the recent changes in the international AML/CFT standards and provide financial institutions with the tool to comply appropriately.

The two-day workshop is, therefore, aimed at soliciting the support of the top management of banks in promoting the implementation of effective AML/CFT measures in the West African sub-region. It is also aimed at acquainting the top management of banks on issues of good corporate governance that are central to promoting the implementation of AML/CFT compliance culture required for an efficient and sound financial system.

In addition, the workshop aimed to promote networking among operators in the sub-region that will facilitate information sharing and dissemination on AML/CFT.

It was designed to remind participants about the potential prevalence of transnational crimes, the need to identify the risks associated and to develop critical skills to combat them, consistent with FAFT’s recommendations.

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