In pursuit of strong anti-money laundering mechanisms, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) have issued guidelines to assist financial institutions design and implement their respective AML/CFT compliance programmes.
The Guideline, which comes into effect this month, incorporates essential elements of the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act and Regulations, relevant FATF-Recommendations, the sound practices of the Basle Committee on Banking Supervision and other international best practices on AML and the Combating of the Financing of Terrorism (CFT).
Financial institutions are repeatedly exposed to varying money laundering risks and serious financial and reputational damage, if they fail to manage these risks adequately.
However, the diligent implementation of the provisions of this Guideline would not only minimize the risk faced by licensed financial institutions of being used to launder the proceeds of crime but also provide protection against fraud and reputational and financial risks.
In this light, the guideline directs that all affected institutions to adopt a risk-based approach in the identification and management of their AML/CFT risks.
Ghanaian financial institutions are also reminded that AML/CFT laws in all the jurisdictions in which they operate should not only designate money laundering and predicate offences but should also prescribe sanctions for non-compliance with the relevant laws and regulations on customer due diligence, non-rendition of prescribed reports and not keeping of appropriate records.
It is, therefore, in the best interest of the accountable institutions to entrench a culture of compliance which would be facilitated by the Guideline.
The Guideline is structured in two; Part A, made up of the new AML/CFT Directives, while Part B provides guidance on Know Your Customer (KYC).
Following the enactment of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2008 (Act 749), the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2008 (Act 762) and the subsequent passage of the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations, 2011 (L.I.1987), Ghana has intensified its efforts towards the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
However, the benefit of the AML Act will not be realized unless there is effective implementation of the collaborative measures being adopted by the central bank and FIC, as well as compliance by licensed financial institutions.
The penalties outlined in the guideline are administrative in nature and may be imposed on banks and SDIs in the event of a breach of the relevant laws, directives and guidelines or contraventions reported by the FIC or other relevant law enforcement agencies.
By Joshua W. Amlanu