Monday, October 10, 2011

Central Bank uses the banks as scapegoat

Central Bank of The Gambia
The Central Bank of The Gambia has blamed the country’s failure in meeting the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI) payment system on the lack of participation and the unwillingness of banking community to make financial commitments towards the implementation of the payment system.

“While Ghana and Nigeria are saying they have this and they have that, unfortunately, we in The Gambia do not have anything yet” the said the Deputy Governor of CBG, Mrs Sara Savage-Samba, while contributing to a discussion on the current state of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) during the first Swift Business Forum for the WAMZ member countries held in Accra, Ghana.  

While Nigeria and Ghana are virtually on the verge of completing conversion criteria towards meeting the zone’s agreed settlement system for member countries, The Gambia and Sierra Leone “are yet to put up any meaningful foundation”, a local newspaper in Ghana has reported. 

The WAMZ is an integration of selected West African countries with an aim to establish a common economic and monetary union for its current six member countries, the establishment of a West African Central Bank and a Financial Supervisory Authority and a common currency for the zone.

As a result, the member countries have currently been tasked to develop a common payment and settlement platform for their internal banking and financial institutions prior to the implementation of the zone’s core objectives.

Also speaking at the forum, Mr Edward M. Musey of Ghana’s Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) has called on the WAMI to include anti-money laundering and counter-terrosist financing strategies in ts operations.

He called on the Central Banks of the respective member countries to tighten the screws on acts bordering on internal and external money laundering and terror financing using their respective countries’ financial and banking platforms. 

The Ghanaian said WAMI ought to include a money laundering and counter terrorism financing in its cards.

“We are currently witnessing an increase in terrorism financing and money laundering activities using our financial institutions,” Mr Musey said, noting that the financial institutions within the zone would now have to be keener on the source of funds coming into their country and the destinations of those leaving their economic borders.

“I think the WAMI would have to include ways of tackling the development even before its common payment and settlement systems for the zone become operational for its members.

“We have seen what happened in Nigeria some few days ago in addition to the few issues of money laundering activities heard here and there,” Mr Musey said, and added that the institute needed to immediately devise ways of tackling money laundering and countering terror financing strategies that could infiltrate its system should it become operational.

Responding to the suggestion, the Deputy Governors of both Nigeria and Gambia and an official at Bank of Ghana’s Banking and Supervision Department said their respective banks and countries were currently well-equipped to deal with such issues bordering on money laundering and terrorism financing.

They, however, contended that the WAMZ, as a future economy bloc, needed a common platform to deal with such issues.

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