Western Union Tightens Screws On Money Laundering

Western Union says it will further tighten its control systems in its fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. The company is subsequently investing more than US$250 million on a yearly basis on compliance systems to ensure that proceeds from money laundering and terrorist financing do not go through its systems. The company’s President, in charge of Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe, Mr Jean Claude Farah,explained that the decision is to protect their agents, customers and the company. Addressing the media at its 20th anniversary press briefing, he said, “moving forward, we will see more tightening of our systems and procedures so that we have an efficient complaint system. Everyday there are different situations that come up and we need to face those situations squarely.” Mr Farah said, “we do that to protect our agents, our customers and to protect ourselves, because we don’t want bad money going through our systems. We will continue to ensure that money laundering and terrorist financing do not go through us.” Ghana commended He also lauded Ghana for its anti-money laundering stance adding that, “I have seen a sign talking about anti-money laundering in Ghana and this means they take it seriously. We feel at home doing business here because that is what we are also working on to ensure that we stop people from using our platform to send such bad proceeds.” The company was earlier this year fined 1.75 million euros ($1.93 million) after regulators found loopholes in its anti-money laundering controls in Ireland. Commenting on that, Mr Farah said, “talking about Ireland, we were fined about 1.75m Euros and this relates to a case that happened around 2012 and this is a lot of money. Often, our interactions with our regulators are meant to strengthen our procedures and systems and a lot of upgrades have been made since then. It takes time but our compliance has improved since that incident occurred.” 20 years in Africa Western Union started operations in Africa in 1995 when it introduced the money transfer service in partnership with the Agricultural development Bank (ADB) in Ghana. The company’s network has grown to cover more than 50 countries and territories on the African continent through over 34,000 agent locations. Marking the anniversary in Ghana, the Africa leadership of Western Union visited the first agent location at ADB, where a plaque was unveiled to express the importance of the collaboration between the two entities over the past 20 years. The team also visited the Ecobank head office in Accra and marked the occasion with the launch of the Account Based Money Transfer services through ATM in Ghana. The ABMT is a product that will allow Ecobank customers with online banking facilities to send money from their accounts to friends or relatives at Western Union Agent locations and territories (account-to-cash). Alternately, consumers, including Ghanaians working and living overseas, will be able to make cash transfers from any Western Union location to Ecobank online banking-linked accounts.