By Christabel Addo, GNAAccra, March 20, GNA - Ghana on Monday, opened a five-day specialised training workshop on the Revised Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Methodology for Mutual Evaluation Assessors.
The workshop among others, had the prime objective of placing participants in a better stead as Regional Experts or Assessors for the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa’s (GIABA) Second Round of Mutual Evaluations in West and Central Africa.
It was jointly organised in collaboration with GIABA, and the FATF, both specialised institutions established by ECOWAS, and brought together participants from West Africa comprising (ECOWAS member States, Sao Tome and Principe); as well as Central and Southern Africa, Asia, Eurasia, and Europe.
Mrs Magdalene Apenteng, the Director of the Financial Sector Division (FSD) of the Ministry of Finance, representing the Minister of Finance, thanked the GIABA Ministerial Committee for giving Ghana the nod to host the training workshop.
She explained that GIABA’s Mutual Evaluation exercise commenced in 2007, where all 16- Member States were peer reviewed on the basis of their legal and institutional frameworks (Technical Compliance).
She said Ghana prides itself for being the first GIABA Member State to conduct its National Risk Assessment (NRA) in compliance with the FATF Recommendation, and further launched a Blueprint and an Action Plan in April 2016, and the country was again obliged to lend itself to be subjected to the new criteria for the second Round Mutual Evaluation Exercise, which consisted of Technical Compliance and Effectiveness.
She said the Technical Compliance assessment sought to establish the fact that countries had enacted the appropriate legislation and other enforceable means, as well as established national institutional framework in compliance with the FATF Recommendations.
She said on the other hand, Effectiveness sought to establish whether the measures and institutions put in place were yielding the expected outcomes, that was to say, “are the laws and institutions working, what are the effects, are there economies being purged of transnational organised crime and to what extent are criminals denied of proceeds of crime?).
Mrs Apenteng said Ghana had strong structures in place to counter such nefarious crimes, and saw the workshop as a focal point to further gather resources from the sub-Region and beyond to strengthen efforts being made to fight terrorism financing, the proliferation of arms as well as corruption among others.
She said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, among his determinations to fight these crimes, had directed the Attorney-General and the Minister for Justice, to initiate measures to amend the Criminal Offences Act of 1960 (Act 29), to upgrade the gravity of the offence of corruption from misdemeanour, as it currently stood, to a felony.
She said this would among others, send a warning signal to public servants and civil society in general as punishment for corruption would be proportionate, dissuasive and effective, consistent with FATF standards.
Other interventions, she said include the expeditious establishment of an Asset Management Office to effectively deal with property relating to crime, as well as an Independent Prosecutor to with issues involving persons suspected to have committed corruption and other financial crimes.
Colonel Adama Coulibaly, the Director General of GIABA, commended Ghana for its leadership example in the sub-region, with regards to instituting the required structures and ensuring the FATF and global standards for combating terrorism financing, money laundering, corruption and other negative activities that creates huge problems for society.
He said expressed his gratitude to Ghana for its active involvement in GIABA’s activities, and also helping in building the capacities of other countries to strengthen the FATF standards, saying the fight against terrorism should not be left to the military alone, but must involve all institutions through a pool of their resources to empower the FATF to operate effectively.
He urged all other countries to ensure effective structures and laws apart from observing compliance.