Ghana and Nigeria are making tremendous progress and achievement in the fight against the twin crimes of money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF), a news release from the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in WestAfrica (GIABA) has said.
According to the release from the GIABA Information Centre in Nigeria on Friday, Ghana has made significant progress in improving its Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime hence the Financial Action TaskForce (FAFT) has excluded the country from its list of countries with deficiencies in AML/CFT regime.
Initially, FAFT - global standard setting body for anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism - blacklisted Ghana due to the country’s lack of progress in improving its AML/CFT regime and also called on member countries to consider the risks and be cautious in doing any transaction with Ghana.
Following this, the release said Ghana developed an Action Plan to address the strategic deficiencies identified in its AML/CFT regime, with the support of FATF and GIABA, an arm of ECOWAS mandated to clean the sub-region of the twin crimes of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (ML/FT).
In October 2010, Ghana made a political commitment to implement the Action Plan within one year.
According to the release, Ghana, with the continued support of GIABA, has demonstrated strong and high-level political commitment towards addressing its strategic AML/CFT deficiencies and, thus established the required legal and regulatory framework to meet its commitment in the action plan, including the passage of the AML Regulation (LI 1987) by the Parliament in March 2011; the ratification of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (2000) in February 2012; the enactment of the Criminal Offences (Amendment) Act 2012, among others.
In January 2013, the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) Regional Review Group (RRG) of the FATF covering Africa and Middle East conducted an on-site visit to Ghana to ascertain the extent at which measures are in place to implement the action plan.
“The on-site team was satisfied that five of the action plan items had been substantially completed, and that there is political commitment and institutional capacity to implement AML/CFT Reforms in Ghana,” the GIABA statement said.
“The only one item the team considered unsatisfactory was the inadequacy of the implementation of obligations under the United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) 1267, 1373, and successor resolutions.”
The release pointed out that during the exit meeting with the assessment team, the Ghanaian authorities assured them that this would be met before the FATF-ICRG meeting scheduled for 18 February 2013 in Paris.
At that meeting, Ghana proved beyond reasonable doubt that this requirement had been met and presented in evidence Executive Instrument entitled “Instructions for the Implementation of the UNSCRs 1267 (1999), 1373 (2001), 1718 (2006), 1737 (2006, Successor Resolutions and Other Relevant Resolutions” issued by the unconsolidated list of individual terrorists, entities or organizations dated 14 February 2013.
Consequently, at its plenary meeting held in Paris, France, from February 20 to 22, 2013, FATF welcomed Ghana’s significant progress in improving its AML/CFT regime and noted that Ghana has established the legal and regulatory framework to meet its commitments in its action plan.
FATF concluded that Ghana is therefore no longer subject to its (FATF’s) monitoring process under its on-going global AML/CFT compliance process.
Ghana will work with GIABA as it continues to address the full range of issues identified in its Mutual Evaluation Report.
Nigeria enacts Terrorism Prevention Act
The GIABA press release stated that Nigeria has made also significant efforts and taken steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime, including criminalization of the full range of predicate offences for money laundering and the passage of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) ACT 2012; and most recently on 21 February 2013, President Goodluck Jonathan assented to the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013.
“The enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Act marks a turning point in the implementation of a robust counter terrorism measures in Nigeria, which is a major requirement for an effective AML/CFT system,” the released said.
However, though FATF has not yet assessed the legislation, due to the very recent nature of its enactment,
GIABA encourages Nigeria to remain resolute and continue with the implementation of its action plan.
GIABA hails the two countries
GIABA welcomes these positive developments in its two member states, especially the very strong commitment and relentless efforts to pass the required pieces of legislation and enforce a full range of regulatory framework.
GIABA congratulates Ghana in particular for exiting the monitoring process of the FATF.
The Dakar-based sub-regional organization also commends Nigeria for its commitment and relentless efforts to get out of the process as soon as possible.
GIABA would also like to re-assure all its members that it will continue to provide them with the necessary guidance, technical support and assistance to ensure that none of its members is subjected to the FATF review.