Wednesday, March 6, 2013

GIABA: Ghana and Nigeria making anti-money laundering progress

English: Logo of The Intergovernmental Action ...
English: Logo of The Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) Русский: Логотип Межправительственной группы по борьбе с отмыванием денег в Западной Африке (ГИАБА) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Ghana and Nigeria are making tremendous progress and achievement in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF)," says the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).

On Friday, West Africa’s leading anti-ML/TF said the two countries have registered remarkable headway in the fight against the twin crimes that are threatening the economic and social stability of the region. 

The GIABA Information Centre in Nigeria, admitted on Feb. 22, 2013, that Ghana has made significant progress in improving its Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime hence the Financial Action Task Force (FAFT) has excluded the country from its list of countries with deficiencies in AML/CFT regime.

FAFT, a global standard setting body for anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism initially blacklisted Ghana due to the country’s lack of progress in improving its AML/CFT regime. It also called on member countries to consider the risks and be cautious in doing any transaction with Ghana.

Hence, the West African country was compelled to “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.

In October 2010, Ghana made a political commitment to implement the Action Plan within one year, GIABA said.

Flag of Ghana
Flag of Ghana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The agency said Ghana in addressing its strategic AML/CFT deficiencies, established the required legal and regulatory framework to meet its commitment in the action plan.
This includes 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; and the enactment of the Criminal Offences (Amendment) Act 2012.

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.

GIABA said: “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 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 Dakar-based sub-regional agency observed.

But Ghana promised the assessment team that this would be met before the FATF-ICRG meeting scheduled for 18 February 2013 in Paris, France.
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.

On February 20, 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’s significant efforts
Flag of Nigeria
Flag of Nigeria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
GIABA said Nigeria has also made significant efforts and taken steps towards improving its AML/CFT regime, including criminalisation 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, GIABA said.

While FATF is yet to assess 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.

Positive developments

The sub-regional economic bloc’s AML/CFT watchdog, 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.

With specific mention to Ghana, GIABA congratulates the country for exiting the monitoring process of the FATF. It also commends Nigeria for its commitment and relentless efforts to get out of the process as soon as possible.

The agency also re-assured 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.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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