Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance, on Wednesday announced that Ghana has been taken off the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) “grey list”.He said the FATF took the decision at their plenary meeting held on June 23, 2021, when it was unanimously agreed that Ghana had satisfactorily completed her Action Plan after the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) had submitted their report.
The Minister speaking at a press conference in Accra, said by the decision, FATF and, for that matter, the international community had renewed its confidence in Ghana’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime.
Mr Ofori-Atta stated that the decision was a great relief for the country, considering the economic consequences suffered by the country while on the list.
He said the decision would boost confidence in the integrity of the country’s financial environment and also boost foreign direct investment.
Giving a background of the “grey list”, the Minister said in 2016, Ghana was subjected to a Second Round of Mutual Evaluation by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in West Africa.
He said Ghana was the first among her peers in the West African sub-region to go through the Second Round of Mutual Evaluation.
Mr Ofori-Atta added that even though that round of mutual evaluation showed some progress in an earlier one in 2009, there were still significant gaps that needed to be addressed.
The Minister said as a result, Ghana was placed under observation by the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG), one of the technical groups of the FATF charged with the responsibility of identifying, reviewing, and monitoring jurisdictions with AML/CFT deficiencies that presented a risk to the international financial system.
Mr Ofori-Atta noted that the ICRG and Ghana developed a two-year Action Plan spanning 2019 – 2021 with timelines, to address the deficiencies.
He further revealed that following the ICRG plan and FATF acknowledgment, the European Union also issued a press release on October 18, 2020 adding Ghana to their list of high-risk third countries with strategic deficiencies in their Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime as a result of Ghana being on the FATF list.
Mr Ofori-Atta said over the last three years, an Inter-Ministerial Committee led by the Ministry of Finance had been hard at work coordinating key reforms to cure strategic AML/CFT deficiencies.
He said the Inter-Ministerial Committee had worked closely with the President and Cabinet Office to fundamentally transform AML/CFT governance of Ghana by approving the National AML/CFT Policy and Strategy, enacting critical legislation, and instituted key measures.
Mr Ofori-Atta said FATF had expressed satisfaction with their work so far, by unanimous decision took Ghana off the blacklist.
He said the Ghana-CARES Obatanpa Programme, was Ghana’s post-pandemic recovery and transformation plan, adding, “It has been developed to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the lives and livelihoods of Ghanaians and ensure that we quickly emerge from the pandemic with a stronger and more resilient economy.”
The Finance Minister said Ghana now hosted the headquarters of the AfCFTA, adding that over the past few years, they had engaged in significant reforms to make the country the most attractive investment destination in Africa.
He said Ghana Beyond Aid impetus highlighted government’s eagerness for partnerships and linkages to enhance trade and economic cooperation with friends for mutual benefit and that Ghana exiting the ICRG process was also an important signal for the rest of the African sub-region.
Mr Ofori-Atta congratulated the Financial Intelligence Centre, the institution mandated by law to fight money laundering and terrorist financing, for their leadership role in achieving this feat.
He thanked members of the ICRG and FATF for their guidance and assure them that they would consolidate and build upon the gains of the reforms while providing the necessary support to strengthen the Financial Intelligence Centre in executing their mandate, which was central to the AML/CFT regime.