EU Money Laundering Blacklist: Ghana defends its regime
Adnan Adams Mohammed
The government through the Ministry of Finance has responded to the European Union (EU) decision to include Ghana in the blacklisted countries with deficiencies in Anti-Money Laundering regime.
The government noted that, it was always ready to engage with the European Commission (EC) about the true status of the country’s AML/CFT regime and efforts being made to strengthen same.
The EU, earlier this month, added Ghana and 11 other countries to its money-laundering blacklist, putting their financial transactions under greater scrutiny. The countries are Botswana, Ghana, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Cambodia, Mongolia and Myanmar.
“The European Commission’s proposal to include Ghana in the list of high risk jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies, therefore, does not reflect exactly the current status of Ghana’s AML/CFT regime”, a statement released by the Finance Ministry, last week, said.
Below is the full statement…
Ghana regrets 7th May, 2020 publication by the European Commission (EC) proposing to the European Union Parliament to add Ghana to its list of high risk third countries with strategic deficiencies in their Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regimes on 1st October, 2020. Ghana over the years has demonstrated a strong commitment to strengthening its AML/CFT regime.
Indeed, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global standard setting on AML/CFT has always acknowledged Ghana’s efforts in enhancing its AML/CFT regime at various platforms of which the EC is always represented.
Just as the methodology used to publish a similar list on 13th February, 2019, which was eventually withdrawn due to lack of clarity and transparency in the process of identifying third countries, we consider the methodology used to come up with this new list once again unfortunate.
It is instructive to state that, the European Commission has not engaged Ghana concerning any shortcomings that needed to be addressed nor was the country given the opportunity to implement corrective measures. On the contrary, when Ghana’s progress report was being discussed at the last FATF Plenary meetings held in Paris, France on 19th to 21st February, 2020, no adverse comment came from the EC. It is, therefore, a surprise for the EC to mention Ghana as one of the countries to be added to her list of high risk third countries barely three months afterwards.
You may recall that, following the discussion of Ghana’s Mutual Evaluation Report by FATF during their plenary meetings in October 2018, FATF identified some strategic deficiencies in the country’s AML/CFT framework, and has worked with Ghana to draw up a two year Action Plan (2019 -2020) to address same.
The country has since been having periodic face-to-face meetings with the ICRG to assess the progress of implementation of the Action Plan. The last face-to-face meeting was from 15th to 17th January, 2020 in Rabat, Morocco. It is worth mentioning that, since the action plan was adopted, Ghana has consistently demonstrated a high-level political commitment to implementing the action plan and has always received positive commendations from the FATF.
Indeed, the International Country Risk Guide (ICRG) in their report to the FATF Plenary meetings in February, 2020 acknowledged that all timelines due have been met and some action items addressed even ahead of their timelines.
The European Commission’s proposal to include Ghana in the list of high risk jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies, therefore, does not reflect exactly the current status of Ghana’s AML/CFT regime. This is unfortunate, and the Government of Ghana is always ready to engage with the EC about the true status of the country’s AML/CFT regime and efforts being made to strengthen same.