Ghana is one of 12 countries in the world that the European Commission (EC) has found guilty of Money Laundering Crimes
The other countries are The Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Cambodia, Jamaica, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar/Burma, Nicaragua, Panama and Zimbabwe.
In a statement issued on May 7, the Commission said the AML/CFT regimes of Ghana and the 12 other countries “pose significant threats to the financial system of the European Union (EU).”
The statement was issued in Brussels, Belgium, and signed by the President of the Commission, Madam Ursula Von Der Leyen.
The inclusion of Ghana in the blacklist means that financial transactions from Ghana into the EU and vice versa would now receive extra scrutiny to ensure that they do not escape the “deficiencies” identified to the benefit of money launderers and terrorist financiers.
This is the second year in a row that Ghana has been added to the EU’s blacklist – a list of countries deemed to present systems that allow the flow of illicit money into and out of the EU – a 27-member political and monetary union.
In 2019, the commission listed Ghana and 22 other countries into a ‘dirty money’ list.
On Thursday, October 1, 2020, Ken Ofori-Atta at a meeting with the EU ambassador to Ghana, Diana Acconcia, cited the recent international media reports revealing the criminal activities, including dirty money laundering by HSBC Bank, a top European Bank, and felt the EU had been unfair to Ghana and the other countries.
Already, Ghana’s embassy in the Belgium, has been hit with an order from the authorities of ING Bank in Brussels, to withdraw all its money, so that the bank will proceed to close the embassy’s accounts. No reason was given by the bank, but it says the decision is irreversible. The embassy has up to November 12, 2020, to withdraw all its money to another bank.
But Ghana’s Foreign Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, insists that it is as a result of the West African nation being blacklisted by the EU for non-compliance with money laundering and terrorism financing regulations.
Last month, a 16-month investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Buzz Feed News and 108 other media partners, has found that HSBC continued to provide banking services to alleged criminals, Ponzi schemers, shell companies tied to looted government funds and financial go-betweens for drug traffickers.
In March 2014, HSBC, was cited for profiting from an international criminal scheme even while on probation for having served murderous drug cartels and other criminals.
HSBC had admitted to U.S. prosecutors in 2012 that it had helped dirty money flow through its branches around the world, including at least $881 million controlled by the notorious Sinaloa cartel and other Mexican drug gangs.
The Finance Minister, who had virtually been drawn to tears before the EU ambassador, over the decision by the European Union to add Ghana to the “blacklisted countries for non-compliance with money laundering rules” said the decision is like “a sledgehammer thrown at us”.
He made these remarks when he met the European Union Ambassador at a ceremony to sign an agreement for some 87 million Euros budgetary support labelled as a “Coronavirus response”.