Ghana’s Finance Ministry says the European Commission used a flawed method to ‘blacklist’ Ghana

Minister of Finance; Ken Ofori Atta
  • The European Union has blacklisted Ghana for having weak laws on money laundering and terrorism.
  • Among the 23 countries are Ghana, Saudi Arabia, Panama, and Nigeria.
  • But Ghana believes the European Commission used a “flawed” and “premature” methodology.

The Ministry of Finance has said that the European Commission used a “flawed” and “premature” methodology to put Ghana on its list of countries with strategic deficiencies in their Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) framework.

In a press statement issued by the ministry, it said that the commission’s blacklist of Ghana “does not reflect the current status of Ghana’s AML/CFT regime” and cited various strategies, actions, and policies taken by the government to counter the illicit flow of money.”

The statement added that the government was neither communicated to “concerning shortcomings that needed to be improved” nor “given the opportunity to respond or time to implement corrective measures, which is the norm.”

“We, therefore, consider the decision to be premature and call for its reversal,” the ministry said.

This is Ghana’s first official comment on the action of the EC, which was announced on February 13 through a press statement.

The European Commission named Ghana as one of the countries blacklisted for being a threat due to its weak control on terrorism financing and money laundering.

The EU commissioner for justice and gender equality, Vera Jourova said the countries were 23 in all.

“The European Commission adopted today a list of 23 third countries with weak rules against money laundering and terrorism financing. I would like first to explain the context and our main objectives. The EU must not be a destination for illicit money. The EU financial system must not serve as a vehicle for money laundering and must not serve as an instrument for financing crime including terrorism.” 

Some of the countries in this group include Saudi Arabia, Panama, and Nigeria.

Below is the full statement;

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MINISTRY OF FINANCE RESPONSE TO EUROPEAN COMMISSION’S LIST OF COUNTRIES WITH STRATEGIC AML/CFT DEFICIENCIES

Accra, Tuesday, 19th February 2019 ...... Ghana regrets the February 13, 2019 decision by the European Commission (EC) to add Ghana to its list of countries with strategic deficiencies in their Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) framework. Ghana’s commitment to strengthening its evolving AML/CFT framework has been acknowledged by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global standard-setting body in global AML/CFT.

2. We consider the methodology used by the EC flawed, as there were no communications with Ghana concerning shortcomings that needed to be improved. Consequently, Ghana was not given the opportunity to respond or time to implement corrective measures, which is the norm. We, therefore, consider the decision to be premature and call for its reversal. Our request is buttressed by the fact that:

• FATF, and its Regional Styled Bodies including the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) periodically assesses the AML/CFT regime of member States by conducting Mutual Evaluation Exercises;

• Ghana successfully went through the Second Round of AML/CFT Mutual Evaluation and became the first country in the West African sub-region to have surrendered to the Second Round of the Mutual Evaluation process, the report of which was adopted by the GIABA Ministerial Committee (GMC) at its meeting in May 2017;

• 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 an Action Plan to address same. Indeed, Ghana is currently working with FATF to effectively implement the Action Plan; and

• Ghana has met the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) of FATF twice. On January 17, 2019, Ghana had a second face-to-face meeting in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with the ICRG to discuss the progress of implementation of the Action Plan and received positive feedback from the ICRG. FATF, in discussing the country’s progress in addressing the identified strategic deficiencies, also recognised Ghana’s high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and GIABA to strengthen the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime.

3. The European Commission’s blacklist of Ghana, therefore, does not reflect the current status of Ghana’s AML/CFT regime. This is unfortunate, and Ghanaian authorities are willing and ready to engage with the Commission about the true status of the country’s AML/CFT regime and efforts at strengthening it, and removing Ghana from their list of countries with strategic deficiencies in their AML/CFT framework.

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