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Friday, June 18, 2021

Guidelines to combat money laundering, financial terrorism in gaming industry soon

A set of guidelines that seek to curb and possibly prevent money laundering and combat the financing of terrorism in the gaming industry are set to be introduced.

The Gaming Commission, which regulates sports betting companies and casinos, in collaboration with the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), the Ghana Police Service and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) are working on the guidelines, which would be in line with Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) guidelines, and hope to introduce them before the end of the year.

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Abena Addo-Mensah, Deputy Director, Operations at the Gaming Commission –speaking at the maiden edition of the Betway Compliance Workshop to share views and information on Ghana’s betting landscape, AML/CFT, and Data Protection Compliance, which came off at the Labadi Beach Hotel, Accra– said the Commission is working with all stakeholder to ensure stricter regulations.

“We have been working with the FIC and the Ghana Police Service in terms of money laundering to come up with AML/FCT guidelines because sports betting is an avenue for money laundering. We have come up with a comprehensive guideline with operators in the space so we are not found wanting and these guidelines would be unveiled soon,” she said.

Seth Nana Amoako, Head of Compliance at the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), stressed that the gaming sector is very vulnerable to money laundering and financing terrorism, therefore these guidelines would come to help players avoid these issues which have the potential to cause harm to Ghana’s investment opportunities.

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“We are working on guidelines to streamline the activities of the gaming industry especially when it comes to Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT). It is easier for criminals to use gaming or sports betting to launder money and we are working to prevent that,” he added.

Gifty-Rita Amoah, Head of Legal, Gaming Commission, noted that in order to curb the incidents of money laundering, all players must work together. She noted that the guidelines would include limits on transactions, which are currently unavailable, flagging of suspicious transactions, and increased regular reporting of activities and transactions by casinos sports betting companies.

“It is about constant engagement with industry players where guidelines would introduce limits to accounts and flagging suspicious transactions. We are almost done with the introduction of guidelines. We have gotten feedback with casino operators and sports bettors and introduce these guidelines before the end of the year,” she said.

Ms. Amoah noted that the guidelines would include a range of sanctions, with the most severe being criminal charges filed against individuals and companies found to flout rules and regulations and the revocation of licences to such individuals and or companies in the industry.

Country Manager – Operations, Magnus Rex Danquah noted that mechanisms in place on Betway’s online platform to help control and monitor underage betting, financial risk and other suspicious activities. He also mentioned that Betway would continue to subject itself to regulatory compliance.

“We have a very experienced and well diversified risk and fraud team, that is capable of identifying risk elements from an abuse and money laundering perspective. The risk team executes certain risk and AML reports to identify any risk of money laundering, such as identifying the customers with little to no wagering. Assessments are performed on those accounts, in order to identify and mitigate any potential money laundering activities that may present itself through the investigation.”

Dr. Gustav Yankson, Director, Cyber Crime Unit (Ghana Police Service) also highlighted his commitment to push a collaborative effort to combat emerging cyber fraud in the Ghanaian gaming industry.

The European Union (EU), in May 2020, placed Ghana on the list of countries that is seen as posing significant threat to the financial system of the Union after it failed to meet some requirements earlier in the year. But due to the global pandemic, the union suspended enforcement of the list but has confirmed it has entered into full force beginning October 1, 2020.

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