28 November 2013

Ghana: Threat of Terrorism Real - CJ

The threat of terrorism in Ghana has been highlighted by the increasing rate of money laundering and non-compliance to reporting guidelines by some financial institutions, which often serve as a conduit for 'washing' funds that support these terrorist activities.

It is assumed that over 80 per cent of the proceeds of money laundering are associated with banks, which are commonly used to expedite these crimes to 'clean' the proceeds.

To effectively fight the phenomenon, which poses a threat to state security and the nation's development agenda, more collaborative efforts between state investigative bodies and enforcement institutions has been prescribed as a more effective way of curbing the increasing rate of money laundering and terrorism funding.

In a speech read on her behalf during a panel discussion in Accra yesterday, the Chief Justice, Her Lordship Theodora Georgina Wood, emphasised that Ghana faced a real risk, and called for synergy among all stakeholders to effectively fight the menace.

"We must not live under the illusion that acts of terrorism can only be directed at countries other than Ghana.

"The threat posed by these crimes places an onerous responsibility on the stakeholder institutions, and also on us, as individuals of Ghanaian origin, to make Ghana a safe place for all of us to live in. If we fail to discharge this responsibility to satisfaction, we will have ourselves to blame," she warned.

The discussion was on the theme: "Positioning Ghana against Money Laundering / Financing of Terrorism: The Role of Stakeholder," co-hosted by the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (ACAMS) and the Wisconsin International University College (WIUC).

The Chief Justice recognised the government's efforts in taking decisive steps to address the scourge by enacting laws such as the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2008, (Act 749), and the Anti-Terrorism Act 2008, (Act 762), which has been amended by the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Act 2012 (Act 842)," among others.

These regulations require financial institutions to, among other things, identify and report to the Bank of Ghana and Financial Intelligent Centre proceeds of crimes, which are derived from unlawful and illegal activities, and to appoint an Anti-Money Laundering Reporting Officer to implement the institution's compliance programmes, but bemoaned the fact that these guidelines are not being strictly complied with by the various financial institutions.

"How many reporting and accounting institutions regularly file their suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs), Cash Transaction Reports (CTRs), Electronic Transfer Reports, Currency Declaration Reports to the Financial Intelligence Centre to enable it establish the required monitoring?" the Chief Justice queried.

She, however, pledged the judiciary's support in all collaborative efforts to fight corruption, which, she said, stands out as a "close partner to money laundering."

The Chief Justice added: "The Judicial Service is poised for action, and considers its role as the guardian of the Rule of Law, a crucial one for the implementation of government policies and programmes."

A representative of the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), Olayinka Akinyede, a Senior Legal Officer, also emphasised the importance of gathering statistical data, and the need for inter-sectarian collaboration, as an essential tool in the fight against the menace.

The Vice President of Wisconsin International University College, Professor Kofi Oduro-Afriyie, mentioned the university's new partnership with ACAMS, to run courses on Anti-Money Laundering, as a way of its contribution towards building a formidable human resource base to help in the fight against financial crimes and terrorism.

The Ghana Chapter of ACAMS was launched at the event, with an Executive Board sworn into office.

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