Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta
The Finance Minister of Ghana, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, has said the European Union’s blacklisting of Ghana for “non-compliance with money laundering rules” is like “a sledgehammer thrown at us”.
At a meeting with the European Union Ambassador to Ghana to sign an agreement for an €87 million ‘Coronavirus response’ budgetary support, Mr Ofori-Atta said: “As you know, the EU put us on the grey end of the blacklist because of our discussions with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)”.
“That’s quite debilitating and, so, we are hopeful to be off the list in December and that the EU will also expeditiously take us out of that”, he noted.
“It, sometimes, looked quite incongruent”, Mr Ofori-Atta observed, adding: “When we see issues such as HSBC Bank right at your door and then we feel like a sledgehammer is being thrown at us for an event that has not occurred but in preparedness”.
He said Ghana is “moving aggressively to get that and we’ll seek your support when we get off the FAFT list, that the EU reciprocates quickly.”
The European Commission (EC), in May this year, added Ghana to the countries that pose money-laundering risks to the commission.
The revised money-laundering list, expanded to include 22 from 16 states, was to take effect from October this year.
In addition to Ghana, the Commission added Panama, the Bahamas, Mauritius, Barbados, Botswana, Cambodia, Jamaica, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe to its list of countries that “pose significant threats to the financial system of the Union” because of failings in tackling money laundering and terrorism financing.
Banks and other financial and tax firms will be obliged to scrutinise more closely their clients who have dealings with these countries.
Companies in the above countries are also banned from receiving new EU funding with effect from October.
Countries who were already on the list are Afghanistan, Iraq, Vanuatu, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, Uganda, Trinidad and Tobago, Iran and North Korea.
All countries but North Korea have committed to changing their rules in order to better tackle money laundering and terrorism financing.
Earlier, Ghana described the blacklisting as “unfortunate”.
“The government of Ghana is always ready to engage with the EC about the true status of the country’s AML/CFT regime and efforts being made to strengthen same,” a statement from the government said.