The Minister of State at the Finance Ministry, Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam, has stated that a critical deficiency identified in the country’s anti-money regime is absence of a legal framework for non-profit organisations (NPO).
The minister, who is advocating fast-tracking legislation, said it is high time a law was established to streamline the operations of NPOs and curb what he described as “abuses and rising money laundering among NPOs”.
“The contributions of NPOs to our socio-economic development are significant. However, it has become important, globally, to ensure that appropriate mechanisms are put in place to prevent the sector from abuse; especially for terrorist financing-related activities,” Dr. Adam told parliament in Accra.
Even though a directive for the management of NPOs was approved by Cabinet and is being implemented, he emphasised that there is an urgent need for a proper legal framework.
The development, according to him, forms part of interventions to sustain the progress made under the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) observation process that required government to put in place adequate measures to further strengthen Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime.
He further noted that a NPO bill has been drafted and is undergoing nationwide consultation.
“Upon approval of Cabinet, the NPO bill will be forwarded to parliament for consideration. It is our expectation that the House [parliament] will help us enact the NPO bill to strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime.”
His comments were in response to a question from the MP for Keta, Kwame Dzudzorli Gakpey, on measures government is putting in place to save Ghana from returning to the money laundering list of the Financial Action Task Force.
Ghana was first subjected to a round of mutual evaluation by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against money laundering and terrorist financing in West Africa in 2009, and the country was subsequently blacklisted by the FATF in February 2012. A Second Round of Mutual Evaluation was carried out in 2016, and though some progress had been made since 2009 strategic deficiencies remained.
The 2016 evaluation formed the basis of Ghana being placed on the European Union’s list of high-risk countries with strategic deficiencies in the AML/CFT regime in October 2020.
According to Dr. Adam, the country’s experience with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) ‘Grey list’ requires continuous prioritising of the issue – a development that informed government’s decision to adopt an Action Plan to address the identified deficiencies with the FATF.
Ghana completed the Action Plan ahead of schedule, and at the June 2021 plenary meeting of the FATF it was unanimously agreed the country had satisfactorily completed its Action Plan – and was removed from the FATF list of jurisdictions under the ‘Grey list’.
Int’l community’s confidence in current anti-money laundering regime
The minister in his submission to parliament indicated that the international community has renewed its confidence in Ghana’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime, due to some interventions and measures adopted by government.
“You may recall that in 2020 we laid before this august House an Anti-Money Laundering bill (2020), as part of measures to address some strategic deficiencies identified in our AML/CFT regime. Indeed, passage of the Act was very instrumental in facilitating our exit from the FATF ‘Grey list’. This was also a demonstration of parliament’s commitment to strengthening the country’s AML/CFT regime, and we are most grateful for the partnership,” he said.
Following passage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2020 (Act 1044) to address some technical deficiencies identified within the AML/CFT regime, the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) organised a series of sensitisation programmes to bring key provisions of the Act to the attention of key stakeholders: including the banks and non-bank financial institutions, law enforcement agencies and civil society organisations.
It is expected that these programmes will enhance compliance within the industry.
“We know that being on the FATF Grey or Black-list has significant consequences for our economy, as it questions the integrity of the country’s financial environment and constrains Foreign Direct Investments. It is for this reason that we have pursued these interventions to strengthen our AML/CFT regime, entrench the gains and ensure we do not return to negative FATF observation again,” he further said.