The Bank of Ghana has made moves to tighten the anti-money laundering (AML) framework in the country.  The legal provisions of central bank’s actions in tightening AML are found in the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2008 (Act 749) and Banks and Specialized Deposit-Taking Institutions Act, 2016 (Act 930).

The Central Bank’s actions may have become necessary due to the possible non-compliance of banks and other deposit-taking institutions.

The AML rules affects all banks, non-bank financial institutions, microfinance and all financial service providers.  The regulators for investments Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), National Pension Regulatory Authority (NPRA) and National Insurance Commission (NIC) are all interested in this framework.  However, it is the BOG that has outlined a its intentions of stricter sanctioning regime from 01 August 2018, for banks that would breach the AML guidelines.  The sanctions are fines based on penalty points system where each penalty point is equivalent to Ghs12.  For various offences the sanctions  vary from minimum 2000 penalty points to maximum 5000 penalty points translated to Ghs24,000 to Ghs60,000 respectively.  The 19-point breaches include, failure  to train staff and measuring their performance on the subject, submission of required reports, failure to attend trainings organised by the BOG, Board’s approval of related documents and a host of others.

In addition to the fines the BOG may impose other one or more of the underlisted administrative sanctions:

  1. caution or reprimand;
  2. a direction disqualifying a person from being concerned in the management of a regulated financial service provider;
  3. suspension of the authorisation of a regulated entity, in respect of one or more of its activities, for a period not exceeding 12 months;
  4. revocation of a regulated entity’s operating license;
  5. Directive to cease a contravention, if the contravention is found to persist.
  6. In addition BOG may publish the name of any accountable institution that persistently breaches the requirements in the AML/CFT acts, regulations and guideline in the local and international media.

In the wake of these directives, banking customers should also be aware that they could encounter some bottlenecks in dealing with the banks if the full implementation is done.  Customers’ transactions are expected to be screened more than has been in the past and also expect their data with banks to be up-to-date.  Customers may therefore see their banks being more stringent than they have been in the past on their requirement, but all will be in the interest of the industry.  It is of essence that the Ghana banking system is seen as credible and that it matches the global standards.

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