As fears of sanctions against Ghana by the European Union for money laundering have heightened following the sudden closure of the accounts of the country’s embassy in Brussels by ING Bank, the head of the EU’s delegation to Ghana, Ambassador Diana Accondia has publicly denied its being involved in the closure. Indeed she has clarified that there is no evidence of money laundering on the part of any official in the current administration of the Akufo-Addo government, although it has blacklisted Ghana.
Last week ING Bank headquartered in Brussels, Belgium which is the EUs headquarters, announced the closure of the Ghanaian embassy’s four accounts with the bank, giving the embassy until November 12 to comply by transferring its monies to another bank. This immediately raised concerns that the EU is behind the move – for which the bank itself has not provided any public explanation – as a sanction for involvement by government and its top officials in illicit money laundering.
Ghana has been black listed since May 2020 for alleged money laundering, an accusation which gas been furiously refuted by top government officials led by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta himself. Indeed, international financial analysts admit they find the accusation curious given that troubled African states such as Mali were given a clean bill of health, indicating that Ghana has fallen victim to murky international geo-politics for some unclear reason.
Ambassador Acconia’s rush to deny EU involvement in the ING affair is now being bandied by government officials as evidence that it realizes it made a wrong call back in May. Indeed, Ghana is now expectred to be taken off the EU’s money laundering watch list in December this year, and in the meantime, it is business as usual between the country and the EU.
Clarifying why Ghana was blacklisted back in May 2020, Ambassador Acconcia, claims Ghana ended up on the list because it failed to comply with checks that could forestall possible money laundering rather than any evidence of actual complicity in that activity arising.
“There is no evidence of money laundering in Ghana,” Ambassador Acconcia stressed.
According to her, the EU would have ceased doing business with the Akufo-Addo administration if indeed any of his appointees had been caught engaging in money laundering or funding terrorist operations.
Ambassador Acconcia pointed out that to prove that Ghana remains in the EU’s good books it is advancing 87 million Euros to the government as a grant to alleviate the plight caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Covid is a global threat but we’ve to respond together. If our partners, particularly Africa sinks then we all sink together. We’re giving out 87 million Euros to Ghana. Ghana reached out to development partners for help and we looked around for the resources.
This support is not tied to any particular action that Ghana should take. The money will be paid in a few days into the Ghanaian treasury. It will be up to the government to decide what to do with it.”
She stressed: “It’s important to say that this is a grant so it does not add to the debt of the government. Basically, it is to compensate for the loss in revenue Ghana has suffered because of the pandemic. It’s an extraordinary measure of which we don’t normally do. We’ve done our own public finance management assessment and Ghana is an eligible recipient.”