The Financial Intelligence Centre says the menace of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (ML/TF) has increased in proportion, putting at risk global financial systems in recent years.
Mr Samuel T. Essel, the Chief Executive Officer of the Centre, said, criminals had concealed their illicit proceeds by investing in legitimate businesses through a number of schemes in the banks, other financial institutions, businesses and professions.
Mr Essel who was addressing a National Risk Assessment (NRA) Workshop on Ghana, in Accra, said in some cases, lack of knowledge of the law or willful blindness resulted in one institution castigating the other to the extent that “sometimes even sacrificing institutions, at the altar of human rights”.
“What is even more worrisome is that, instead of competent authorities developing the necessary synergies to combat transnational crime, there are reported cases of trust deficit, which rather disrupt the defined courses of law enforcement, thereby, rendering nugatory, the desired effectiveness,” he said.
He said criminals took advantage of the situation and operated with impunity, a situation, which could result in criminals taking over State power if not checked.
Ghana is the first country in West Africa to complete the NRA, which intends to provide guidance on the conduct of identifying and assessing the ML/TF threats and the vulnerabilities of a country at the national level.
The NRA is also to determine the level of vulnerability of the economic and financial sectors to ML/TF; determine and understand the weaknesses in the legal framework, by considering the criminal and administrative justice systems and the existing preventive measures.
Additionally, the NRA prescribes the best ways to promote and judiciously allocate resources for the prevention, investigation and prosecution of ML/TF offences.
Mr Essel said the successful implementation of the NRA, would ensure a synergy among policy and decision makers on the issue; foster inter-agency collaboration; identify sectors that needed most support and prioritised in resource allocation.
It would also identify the training needs of stakeholders, and identify the lacuna and vulnerabilities in the laws and institutions to provide remedies, he added.
Mrs Mona Quartey, a Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said the workshop was timely giving the terrorism threat across the world.
She said the threat posed by the criminals was not directed to only one country and called for the two nations to collaborate effectively to combat the menace.
She expressed the hope that the workshop would provide the Government with additional ammunition to combat the threat of ML/FT.
Ms Cari Votava, a Senior Financial Sector Specialist at the Financial and Private Sector Development at the World Bank, congratulated the Inter Ministerial Committee members for their dedication.
She said the World Bank recognised Ghana’s role to combat ML/FT in the Sub -Region and expressed the hope that the final reports for all countries would be made public for others to learn from.
She also urged the Committee to modify the Action Plan to make its implementation easier.
Mr Basharu Farouk, the Head of Nigeria’s delegation at the workshop, and a member of the NRA, commended Ghana for the invitation, saying it would help them gain enough skills and experience to assist the work back home.
He said it was a unique opportunity for Nigeria because they were at the edge of consolidating the country’s NRA report and the participation would enhance the assessment process.
He, therefore, congratulated Ghana for being the first West African country to complete the assessment.
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