The European Commission (EC) has added Ghana to a list of 23 countries with strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing frameworks.
Ghana and her West African neighbour Nigeria were added to an already existing blacklist of 16 countries announced by the EC in a press release on February 13.
The listing does not entail any type of sanctions, restrictions on trade relations or impediment to development aid; but requires banks and obliged entities to apply enhanced vigilance measures on transactions involving these countries.
Other newcomers to the list are Libya, Botswana, Samoa, the Bahamas and the four United States territories of American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam.
The other listed states are Afghanistan, North Korea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Yemen.
Bosnia, Guyana, Laos, Uganda and Vanuatu were removed.
The Commission concluded that the 23 countries have strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering counterterrorist financing regimes.
According to the EC, the aim of the list is to protect the EU financial system by better preventing money laundering and terrorist financing risks.
As a result of the listing, banks and other entities covered by EU anti-money laundering rules will be required to apply increased checks (due diligence) on financial operations involving customers and financial institutions from these countries to better identify any suspicious money flows.
Vera Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: “We have established the strongest anti-money laundering standards in the world, but we have to make sure that dirty money from other countries does not find its way to our financial system. Dirty money is the lifeblood of organised crime and terrorism. I invite the countries listed to remedy their deficiencies swiftly. The Commission stands ready to work closely with them to address these issues in our mutual interest. “
For each country, the Commission assessed the level of existing threat, the legal framework and controls put in place to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing risks and their effective implementation. The Commission also took into account the work of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the international standard-setter in this field.
What are the criteria used to establish the list?
As regards the criteria to assess countries in the listing phase, these were initially set by the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive. The criteria were strengthened by the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive and now include:
the strategic deficiencies of the affected countries, in particular in relation to the legal and institutional anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing framework such as;
criminalisation of money laundering and terrorist financing,
customer due diligence and recordkeeping requirements,
reporting of suspicious transactions,
the availability and exchange of information on beneficial ownership of legal persons and legal arrangements,
the powers and procedures of competent authorities,
their practice in international cooperation,
the existence of dissuasive, proportionate and effective sanctions.