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Criminals concealing money laundering activities in the real estate market – GIABA

Real Estate Houses23 [File photo] Real estate houses

Thu, 1 Apr 2021 Source: www.ghanaweb.com

The Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) has said the property market is one of the avenues used by criminals to launder their illicit fund.

The group believes that this situation arises because property can be purchased via anonymous companies and trusts amongst others, making it difficult to identify the true owners and if they pose money laundering risk.

Addressing a workshop in Accra, the Director-General of GIABA, Aba Kimelabalou, said the real estate sector has been identified as one that exposes the financial system to money laundering risk.

“The real estate sector is one of the main drivers of economic growth and the engine of social stability across member States, and thus constitute an important part of economic development within the region. Nonetheless, outcomes of typologies studies by GIABA and FATF, show that real estate is one of the sectors vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist financing.

The GIABA boss added that his outfit is working around the clock to raise awareness on the money laundering issues in the real estate industry.

“To support reporting institutions, including the real estate agents effectively implement AML/CFT preventive measures, GIABA has published some typologies reports, including the Typologies of Money Laundering Through the Real Estate Sector in West Africa and provided technical support/capacity building, guidance and best practices, and is currently supporting the regional association of Chief Compliance Officers to enhance engagement and coordination and foster implementation of AML/CFT regime in the region,” he said.

The workshop was organised by the Ghana Real Estate Development Association (GREDA), together with the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) on the theme ‘Enhancing anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism compliance by real estate agents

Meanwhile, Minister of State, for the Ministry of Works and Housing, Dr Freda Akosua Prempeh, bemoaned the dire effects of money laundering on the economy as she called on stakeholders to address the situation.

“A well-coordinated effort amongst stakeholders 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 harness the expertise and information at our disposal to collectively fight this menace. There is the need for us to collaborate to serve as gatekeepers to identify and keep records of beneficial owners of legal entities, trusts and other legal arrangements in real estate transactions”.

She further stated that the full implementation of the Rent Act together with the digitisation of the Rent Control Department would help track the operations of both landlords and tenants within the real estate market.

Source: www.ghanaweb.com
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