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20.03.2006 Business & Finance

Ghana to have Financial Intelligence Unit


Accra, March 20, GNA - Ghana needs a Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to alert the country against fraud to help both public and private sectors to fight the menace.

Addressing a workshop on estab lishing a legislative Framework for a Financial Intelligence Unit in Accra, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said the FIU Law, which was expected to be passed by the end of the year, would be the first step towards evolving proposals for the reform of the Law and public policy on fraud including money laundering and corruption.

Officials attending the workshop are from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Ministry of the Interior, Attorney-General's Office, Auditor-General's Department, Ambassadors of Russia, France and Spain and the Canadian High Commissioner.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said the FIU would develop recommendations that would enhance the investigation and prosecution of fraud. "It will be responsible to advise business as a whole on fraud prevention, detection and reporting."

The Finance Minister said the FIU would also assist in improving fraud related education and training in business and other professions, adding that its activities would give a more accurate picture of the extent, causes and nature of fraud in the country.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said the situation where institutions were not backed by law tended to give them little or no effect. It is against this background that the Government, prior to its invitation to attend the 2005 G8 Summit, held discussions with G8 Ambassadors under the direction of the National Security Coordinator to move the process forward.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said following that meeting, a draft Money Laundering Legislation in line with international standards had been prepared.

He said Ghana had some antiquated laws on fraud prevention and control, namely the Exchange Control Act of 1960, the Corruption Act of 1965 and the Narcotics Control Act and their associated legislative instruments.

He expressed regret that Ghana did not have any official and authoritative statistics on fraud and therefore, neither the Police nor the Government could direct scarce resources intelligently to combat fraud.

"There is the need to make efforts to calculate direct losses, allocate cost to investigations, court proceedings and preventive measures."

The Minister said fraud all over the world was growing fast and it cost one billion pounds in 1985; four billion pounds in 1994 and at least 13.8 billion pounds in 2000 in the UK alone. In Ghana between 2001-2004 the Ministry of Finance's Office for Special Duties in collaboration with the Auditor-General Investigated and identified 10 trillion cedis embezzled funds between 1992 and 2000.

He said a total of 219.47 billion cedis were recovered during the same period.

Mr Gordon Wetherell, British High Commissioner in Ghana, said money laundering was a major source of funding for terrorism and must be fought on all fronts.

The coming out of a law on the FIU is a prerequisite for Ghana's membership of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and accreditation which could help Ghana to receive and share information on stolen funds with member countries. 20 March 06