The Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Ernest Addison, has urged bank executives to prioritise the promotion of ethics and the reinforcement of moral behaviour, as this is crucial in not only preventing fraud, but boosting public confidence in the sector.
His comments come on the back of the recent Bank of Ghana Fraud Report, which shows alarming trends. Even though the fraud report said some variables are reducing, as there were 2,998 cases of attempted fraud in the banking and specialized deposit-taking institutions (SDIs) sectors in 2022, compared to 2,347 cases in 2021, representing a 27.74 percent increase, the numbers still remain relatively high.
The total loss value recorded in 2022 stood at approximately GH¢56 million, compared to approximately GH¢61 million in 2021, indicating a 7.88 percent decrease from 2021. The year 2022 also saw a marginal reduction in the percentage of staff involvement in fraud to 47.84 percent from 53.46 percent in 2021.
The Governor stated that the report gives strong signals that “our focus on ethics and ethical behavior should be strengthened. A single case of fraud, involving an employee of a bank or any financial institution, affects the whole industry and weakens public confidence in the industry”.
He said this at the 27th National Banking and Ethics Conference organized by the Chartered Institute of Bankers, Ghana, in Accra.
“Although the 2022 banks, SDIs, and PSPs Fraud report showed a decline in staff involvement in fraud cases to 188 in 2022 from 278 in 2021, the persistence of these unethical acts among employees of banks and SDIs remains a concern,” he added in the remarks delivered on his behalf by Bernard Otabil, Head of the Ethics and Internal Investigations Office at Bank of Ghana.
Most of the incidents involving bank staff had to do with cash theft (cash suppression) from customers’ accounts and fraudulent withdrawals on accounts of customers.
Dr. Addison stressed that raising awareness of ethical issues, providing banking professionals with ethical training, and fostering a culture of ethics are important building blocks for establishing the right culture within banking institutions.
Explaining further, he said: “This would also help banking professionals develop the knowledge and skills to navigate complex ethical dilemmas as well as anticipate and deal properly with ethical blind spots”.
“When the culture within the banking sector is values-based and values-driven, stakeholders, including depositors, would likely align their values with that of banks. By that, a strong ethical organizational culture supported by ethical decision-making and conduct would emerge and enhance professionalism within the industry,” he added.
The theme for this year’s national banking and ethics conference was ‘redefining professionalism in banking through ethics’.
The President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, Ghana, Benjamin Amenumey, said the industry has over the years witnessed some external and internal events that have impacted the confidence of the industry significantly. To be able to respond adequately to these impacts, he said it was necessary to redefine professionalism in the banking sector through adherence to ethical behaviour.
“For our industry to be sustainable and the country to develop, we need professional bankers; I mean trusted bankers,” he said.
The CIB took advantage of the conference to launch a newly redesigned flagship Chartered Banker curriculum and an ethics certification programme. These new professional development programmes aim to create the required specialized knowledge and improve competency for the benefit of the industry.
“More importantly” the governor said,
“it would help banking professionals imbibe the right ethical values to contribute to building the right ethical culture in the various institutions. Let me add that the ethics certification is for all employees working in the banking industry; and all bank staff must complete the certification program and be recertified annually”.
The CEO of CIB, Robert Dzato, added that the new curricula and programme would be crucial for promoting responsible and sustainable banking.
“It will also encourage responsible practices and transparency, enhance customer trust and loyalty, and prevent the next financial crisis,” he stated.