The Bank of Ghana (BoG) has introduced a raft of guidelines and measures including sanctions, increased sensitisation and a regulatory forum to deter banks from engaging in money laundering and terrorism financing activities.
The European Union (EU) in May 2020 placed Ghana on the list of countries that are seen as posing significant threat to the financial system of the union, after Ghana failed to meet some requirements earlier in the year. But, due to the global pandemic, the union suspended enforcement of the list – but has confirmed it has entered into full force beginning October 1, 2020
Governor of the central bank, Dr. Ernest Addison speaking in Accra, urged banks to do their part and stay in compliance within the country’s Anti-Money Laundering/Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) guidelines so that Ghana can be removed from the European Union’s list of countries with weak AML/CFT systems.
“The Bank of Ghana has intensified surveillance of the financial system to identify potential systemic risks, market conduct breaches, and AML/CFT deficiencies. This will pave the way for prompt remedial actions aimed at improved resilience and public confidence.
“In light of this, the bank has revised the AML/CFT Guidelines for the industry; introduced a sanction regime; increased sensitisation and established a regulatory forum to boost correspondent banking relations and general health of the financial system,” he said.
This move by the BoG, he explained, is also geared toward general health of the financial system and positioning it to further conform with global standards. The Governor said although the blacklist does not lead to any sanctions or restrictions in trade relations, it can have serious consequences for the financial sector – including a higher level of due diligence from correspondent banks on their Ghanaian respondent banks, which could disengage the country from the international financial system.
COVID-19 shines light on cyber threats to industry
He added that continued cybersecurity threats to the banking sector have become more critical with the advent of COVID-19 and the switch to more technology-based financial services delivery. The regulator, he noted, has continued to monitor these developments and enforce standards which adequately protect consumers and promote public confidence.
“During the year, the Bank resolved several customer complaints, conducted onsite and offsite examination exercises to enforce guidelines on recourse mechanisms and transparency, increased financial literacy programmes to help consumers navigate through the pandemic, and reviewed innovative products to ensure their compliance with market conduct standards.”
Following the addition of Ghana to the EU’s blacklist, there were reports the EU had placed restrictions and/or bans on certain government or private transactions with the union as one of the consequences which come with being on the list.
According to information published on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) website, the country has made some progress in its AML/CFT regime: but should work hard in implementing a comprehensive national AML/CFT Policy based on the risks identified in the National Risk Assessment (NRA), including measures to mitigate Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (ML/TF) risks associated with the legal persons; and improving risk-based supervision by enhancing the capacity of regulators and awareness of the private sector.