Lieutenant Colonel Larry Gbevlo-Lartey, National Security Coordinator, on Monday called for specific laws on seizure and confiscation of assets to make criminal acts unprofitable.
He noted that stiffer or long prison sentences could not reduce crime and unlike South Africa and the US, Ghana had no specific laws on forfeiture and confiscation of assets.
Lt-Col. Gbevlo-Lartey made the call in a speech read on his behalf at the opening session of a four-day National Workshop on Money Laundering and Financial Crimes Investigation in Accra.
It is being organised by Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) as a platform to train participants to detect and investigate money laundering and other financial crimes.
In addition, participants would be assisted to develop critical skills in finding and connecting persons who commit money laundering and other financial crimes.
The workshop attended by about 50 participants from the law enforcement and regulatory agencies in Ghana, would be taken through introduction to money laundering and financial investigations, trailing the money, differences in money laundering and financial crimes investigations.
Others are investigative techniques and evidentiary requirement, regional and international cooperation in money laundering.
Lt-Col. Gbevlo-Lartey explained that seizure and confiscation of assets became more complicated when the law required that there should be a link to acquisition of the assets to the crime committed and convicted.
He pointed out that major challenge to control money laundering was the inadequate and skilled personnel in the law enforcement agencies and the provision of resources, lack of co-operation from the public.
Lt-Col. Gbevlo-Lartey said financial institutions could also play a vital role in controlling money laundering by instituting policies and customer internal controls.
He noted that the absence of regulation guiding some sectors of the economy such as real estate industry and car dealers were areas where fiscal cash were used for transactions instead of the banks.
Dr Abdullahi Shehu, Director General of GIABA, in a speech read on his behalf, said the Group was considering the introduction of a peer monitoring and review mechanism for national Anti-Money Laundering to ensure national strategies to become a cornerstone in measuring national progress against money laundering.
He said it was necessary to have effective anti-money laundering regulatory framework for Designated Business and Professional (DNFBPs) to ensure that the existing gap was not exploited by criminals, especially in cash-based economy with dominated semi-formal and informal sectors like Ghana.
Dr Shehu recommended Ghana’s effort to develop anti-money laundering strategy with the support of GIABA to combat the menace.
Mr Kobby Acheampong, Deputy Minister of the Interior, said the effects of the menace could have an adverse effect on the productive sectors of the economy, when the citizenry look out for easier ways of making money.
In addition, it could undermine a nation’s political stability by refusing illegal monies from people who would hold government to ransom.
He said the methods by which money could be laundered were many and differ in the level of sophistication such as cash-intensive businesses, trade-based laundering, casinos and real estate, and pledged government’s support towards combating money laundering challenges.
Mr Samuel Thompson Essel, GIABA National Correspondent of Ghana admonished the participants to take all lessons serious to sharpen their skills and competencies to fight money launderers and terrorists.