Diana Acconcia, the head of the European Union Delegation to Ghana, has refuted claims that ING Bank’s closure of accounts held by Ghana’s embassy in Belgium was caused by the recent blacklisting of the nation by the EU.
Speaking in an interview on Monday (12 October) with Kojo Mensah, the host of The Asaase Breakfast Show, Acconcia said the bank’s move was solely a business decision and not related to Ghana’s blacklisting as being reported.
“I want to say this on radio because the embassy has asked me to do so: the account of the Embassy of Ghana to Belgium and the European Union has been closed by a Belgian bank [and] that was a business decision of the bank,” the envoy said.
“The bank was not obliged by the European listing to close the account of the embassy. It was a business decision. What they had to do was to apply more checks to the transaction.
“I want to say this because this was really unpleasant for the embassy and for ourselves. The ambassador is a good friend of mine and it really pained me to see her vexed by these,” Acconcia said.
Reports suggest that Ghana’s embassy in Belgium has been directed to close its four accounts with its bankers, ING, by 12 November 2020 at the latest.
The embassy has four main accounts with ING Bank – a main euro current account, a main euro business account, a special collections account and a retention fund account, which is used for the embassy’s internally generated funds.
What the regulation prescribes
The bank had said that its decision was premised on Article 59 of the bank’s general regulations.
“Without prejudice to the provisions stipulated by specific agreements or regulations [in relation] to the Special Regulations for Payment Transactions, for transactions and services covered by these regulations, both the client and ING may, without being required to justify their decision, terminate all or part of the business relationship they have entered into, subject to where appropriate and at the request of the other party to compensate for any loss suffered as a result thereof, which the other party shall substantiate.
“The party which wishes to terminate its business relations shall notify the other party of its decision in writing …” it said.
Earlier, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, said investigations conducted so far show that the reason for the bank’s decision could be the EU’s recent blacklisting of Ghana and other African countries in response to purported non-compliance with money laundering and terrorism financing regulations.
However, the explanation by the EU Head of Delegation to Ghana shows that the bank’s action was not related to money laundering.
In May this year, Ghana was blacklisted by the EU for failing to comply with money laundering and terrorism financing regulations.