Ken Ofori-Atta reacts to EU blacklist of Ghana, says it’s like a ‘sledgehammer thrown at us’

Ken Ofori-Atta, Ghana’s Minister for Finance says the decision by the European Union to add Ghana to the “blacklisted countries for non-compliance with money laundering rules” is like “a sledgehammer thrown at us”.

He made these remarks when he met the European Union Ambassador to Ghana to sign an agreement for some 87 million Euros budgetary support labelled as a “Coronavirus response”.

Ofori-Atta said: “As you know, the EU put us on the grey end of the blacklist because of our discussions with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). That’s quite debilitating and so we are hopeful to be off the list in December and that the EU will also expeditiously take us out of that.”

He continued: “It sometimes looked quite incongruent. When we see issues such as HSBC Bank right at your door and then we feel like a sledgehammer is being thrown at us for an event that has not occurred but in preparedness, we are moving aggressively to get that and we’ll seek your support when we get off the FAFT list, that the EU reciprocates quickly.”

Ghana has been placed on a list of countries under the watch of the EU for certain money-laundering activities due to an observation by the FATF, the Inter-government organization recognized by the World Bank and IMF for instituting policies aimed at combating money-laundering and terrorism.

The EU on May 7, 2020, proposed to the European Parliament to include Ghana among 11 other countries on the money-laundering blacklisted countries, thus putting financial transactions under greater scrutiny.

The 12 countries which were subsequently banned effective this October are Ghana, Botswana, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Cambodia, Mongolia and Myanmar.

But Ghana’s Ministry of Finance in a statement responded that the EU’s move does not reflect exactly the current status of Ghana’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) (AML/CFT) regimes.

“This is unfortunate, and the Government of Ghana is always ready to engage with the EC [European Commission] about the true status of the country’s AML/CFT regime and efforts being made to strengthen same,” the statement read.

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Ken Ofori-Atta, Ghana’s Minister for Finance says the decision by the European Union to add Ghana to the “blacklisted countries […]