Story by Azaglo Fiakofi Michael 

National Workshop On Enhancing Anti - Money Laundry And Combating The Financing Of Terrorism  Compliance By Real Estate Agents/Practitionals Was Held Today.March 29th ,2021 at Alisa Hotel.Accra Ghana. 

"The ability to travel from your various homes in your numbers to participate in this workshop is a sign of your unwavering  resolve To Help to rebuild our economy which has been ravaged  by the pandemic in the past year".said by Hon.Francis Asenso Boakye,Minister For Works And Housing,during his presentation.

That his expectations is that we will explore this unique opportunity presented by the mix of individuals of diverse backgrounds and experiences here to help share and shape  our ideas regarding the fight against money laundering.

Money laundering is a form of financial crime which has become  sophisticated now more than ever. The most prominent way in which this manifest is through the real estate market,where criminal integrate illegally acquired funds into legal economies to provide safe investment through the use of either direct cash to purchase properties or fictitious names to purchase properties, or the use of third parties and front men to purchase properties. 

In this regards, he said"that the real estate sector has become an easy and convenient where financial criminals hide their millions of Ghana Cedis or convertible currencies  from the state, there by depriving the requisite  revenue  for developmental project. It also discourages investment in legitimate  businesses and has the potential to undermine the rule of law and the foundation of our democracy. 

Indeed, there is enough  statistics and empirical evidence to show how grave the situation is around the globe,"he said. 

According to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the real estate sector accounted for up to 30% of criminal  assets confiscated  worldwide  between  2011 and 2013."

It will be recalled that, a former Governor in an African country between  1999 to 2007,was sentenced  to 13 years in prison after admitting fraud of nearly $66 million.

 The judge in the case said that this figure is ludicrously low and that the real amount may be in excess  of another $245 million. The governor used shall companies in multiple  secretive jurisdictions to move the funds,which ended up in property and luxury goods around the world,and something must be done rather than to be loosing a lot of money,which I think it's right time we should come together to brainstorm the sanity in our industry.

These were public funds which could have otherwise been used in the interest of the public, but ended up in private hands. 

As a public servants, we can't  sit down and look an unconcerned for crimes  of this nature  to take place in our country,why because,consequently,a well - coordinated  effort amongst  stakeholders such as those gathered  here would be required to address  this menace,particularly, in view of the advancement in technology and our borderless  world, which is making it increasingly difficult to follow the financial trail that criminals leave behind. 

It is therefore, imperative that we harnes the expertise and information at our disposal to collectively fight this menace. 

I, therefore reckon with the selection of the theme "Enhancing  Anti Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Compliance by the Real Estate Agent /practitioners could not have come up at a more appropriate time than now,"He said. For,there is the need for us to collaborate to serve as gatekeepers to identify  and keep records of beneficial  owners of illegal  entities, trusts and other legal arrangements in real estate  transaction."

I'm happy to inform you that the ministry of works and housing  in its quest to adhere  to international  best practices as part of the promulgated of the Real Estate Agency Act,2020 (Act 1047) incorporated provisions to plug the avenues in which real estate transactions are used to launder  money including  the prohibition of the use of cash for real estate transactions.

"This is to ensure that there is a detailed tracking  of the transactions and those persons involved in the transactions will be brought to book,"he said. 

The Act also strengthens  the anti-corruption  initiatives in the country  and curbs money laundering and other financial malpractices in the sector. Similarly, the proposed  rent Act when completed  would make provision for a tenancy system which would  compel landlords and property owners to conduct proper checks on tenants before renting out their properties. 

It is envisaged that the full implementation of the new rent control department would help track the digitization operations of both landlords  and tenants within the real estate market. 

"I'm very pleased, he said.that as it would go a long way to help us to collectively  police the anti-money laundering space. I also wish to assure everyone, that the recommendations of the workshop  when submitted to the ministry  would be studied and adopted for implementation.

It can only take a collective effort in sanitizing our real estate industry,that

Real estate is now a global industry which Ghana has taken the initiatives to pass the real estate demands by working close with Grader and FIC ,in other to bring sanity into our country to avoid criminals money into this country in buying properties. 

It's about time we enforce the law," he said.

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