Suspected money laundering cases on the rise

Samuel Thompson Essel, CEO, FIC

…as FIC receives 2,010 STRs in 6 years

The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) has received 2,010 suspicious transaction reports (STRs) from banks and non-bank financial institutions on suspected money laundering cases from 2010 to 2016.

The Centre has disseminated 787 out of the 2,010 reports to various law enforcement agencies for appropriate actions to be taken.

Ghana, has since 2014, prosecuted and convicted 11 persons for various money laundering offences and its associated crimes.

Speaking to the Goldstreet Business at a training workshop on anti-money laundering in Accra, Head of Business at FIC, William Nutakor explained that the numbers are still increasing on monthly basis.

He indicated that money laundering trends including cyber-crime schemes, romance fraud, confidence fraud, lottery scam, gold scam and impersonation, are also on the rise.

“Cheque cloning and email hacking are the newest trends currently being used by money launderers and these mechanisms are rapidly gaining grounds,” he said.

The FIC has noted that, deficiencies such as the use of operational financial intelligence to prosecute money launderers by law enforcement agencies is limited.

Mr. Nutakor however, expressed worry that the FIC usually receives late feedbacks from law enforcement agencies on the status of disseminated intelligence from the centre.

“Situations such as the lack of a centralized asset management office, and the lack of technology to aid investigation and prosecution of money laundering cases also obstructs our progress,” he noted.

The law

The Ghana Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2008 (Act 749) states that a person commits an offence of money laundering if the person knows or ought to have known that, acquiring property is or forms part of the proceeds of such unlawful activity.

“Once a person converts, conceals, disguises, or transfer properties, or disguises the unlawful origin of the property, that decision automatically forms part of the money laundering chain”, he explained.

Role of stakeholders against money laundering

Mr. Nutakor however explained that stakeholders such as the media, civil society organizations and regulating agencies must step up the fight against money laundering and its associated crimes.

“The evidence is there for all to see. Stakeholders must begin to probe areas such as real estates, casinos, and investment companies. Those are the possible avenues that the monies are invested,” he noted.

The Ghana Integrity Initiative

The workshop forms part of the Ghana Integrity Initiative’s (GII) project titled, ‘Turning Up the Pressure: Tackling Money Laundering through Multi-Stakeholder Approaches in Ghana. It is a multi-country project focusing on Ghana, Nigeria and coordinated by the Transparency International (TI).

GII’s Fundraising Manager, Mr. Michael Boadi, said it was important for civil society organizations and the media to collaborate to educate the public on the modus operandi of money launderers and its effects on the economy.

Money laundering

Money-laundering is the process that disguises illegal profits without compromising the criminals who wish to benefit from the proceeds.

Drug traffickers, corporate embezzlers or corrupt public officials launder money to protect it.

This is because the money trail is evidence of their crime as such monies are vulnerable to confiscation.

Stages of money laundering

Money-laundering has a dynamic three-stage processes.

Placement which involves moving the funds from direct association with the crime, layering, which involves disguising the trail to foil pursuit), and integration, which comprises making the money available to the criminal, once again, with its occupational and geographic origins hidden from view.

By Wisdom Jonny-Nuekpe