By Marcus Pleyer
Money laundering fuels serious crime and terrorism. It harms societies by enabling a wide range of criminal activity such as drugs and arms trafficking, human trafficking and terrorist attacks. The Ghanaian government is aware of these dangers and last month achieved a major milestone by completing a reform programme to crackdown on illicit finance. I congratulate the Ghanaian authorities on the enormous amount of work they have conducted to achieve this result.
There is good reason to celebrate Ghana's progress. Since being listed in 2018 on the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) increased monitoring list, the so-called grey list, Ghana has succeeded inimproving itseffective implementation of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing controls.
Thanks to a high-level political commitment from the Ghanaian authorities, the implementation of numerous reforms has improved the strength of the country's financial system.
Among its achievements, Ghana has:
● Established a legal framework and strengthenedcooperation between competent government institutions
● Demonstrated awareness of the risks the country faces and fully engaged in its supervisory responsibilities
● Ensured supervisors conduct risk assessments by sector and provided awareness raising training sessions
● Ensured law enforcement agencies have built capacity for financial investigations
These are just some of the reforms that Ghana has implemented to deter money laundering and terrorist financing and help secure the integrity of its financial system. Up until last month, Ghana was one of more than a dozen countries included on the FATF's greylist due to strategic deficiencies in their ability to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. Following the comprehensive action taken by the Ghanaian authorities, and a successful on-site visit by an FATF team to verify progress, Ghana has been removed from increased monitoring.
This achievement only happened due to the hard work and determination of officials who recognised that changes needed to be made. The Ghanaian government has given a clear, ongoing, and robust commitment to continue to take action to strengthen its systems.
As the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog,the FATF welcomes this commitment. The FATF's regional partner in the region, GIABA, will continue to monitor the country's progress and assess whether new measures are in line with the FATF's international rulebook of laws and regulations that more than 200 countries and jurisdictions have committed to implement.
The threat from criminal and terrorist groups is constantly evolving, so all countries need to remain vigilant. Going forward, I strongly encourage the Ghanaian authorities to continue to prioritise the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. It is imperative for authorities to push forward funding proposals for the Financial Intelligence Centre and expand its capacity. Both the financial and non-financial sectors need to understand their risks and put in place appropriate measures. Authorities should also continue to identify and mitigate the risks linked to regional terrorist financing threats.
This work is challenging. But with the political will demonstrated by Ghana's leaders, I am confident that the country will continue to take the necessary steps to make a difference. I welcome the assurances of the Minister of Finance, Central Bank Governor, Minister of Justice and others for their support in this area.
I want to warmly thank the Ghanaian government and the country's anti-money laundering professionals who strive every day to take on the challenge of preventing serious crime and terrorism. I know they will continue to work tirelessly to develop and enhance their capabilities. By doing so, Ghana will help prevent the harm caused by money laundering and terrorist financing in their own country and worldwide. This will help make peoples' lives safer, fairer, and help create stronger, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.