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Prioritise self-regulation, US-based lawyer urges financial institutions

Jennifer Paradise, general counsel at White & Case, has recommended to managers of financial institutions in Ghana that they prioritise self-regulation

Jennifer Paradise, general counsel at White & Case, an international law firm in New York, USA, with a reputable record of providing services to large companies, governments and financial institutions across the globe, has recommended to managers of financial institutions in Ghana, as a matter of practice, that they place first importance on self-regulation.

Ms Paradise made this call when she participated in a panel discussion on “Ethics and the Financial Sector”, on day two of a virtual conference, organised by the GIMPA Faculty of Law, on “The Banking and Financial Sector Crisis in Ghana: Towards Sustainable Reform”.

“We have to have a strong set of governmental rules that drive conduct and a strong set of enforcement to ensure compliance, but I also think that an equally important component of compliance is that in the private sector there is a strong culture of compliance within the institutions themselves,” Ms Paradise said.

“If you look at, for example, the Anti-Bribery Act in the United Kingdom, one of the components of a violation is the fact of a private organisation failing to institute policies and controls internally, so that you are asking them to self-regulate before the regulator can get to them,” the White & Case general counsel said.

The panel

The three-member panel included the head of ethics and internal investigations at the Bank of Ghana, Caroline Otoo, and Deborah Mawuse Agyemfra, deputy director (general legal) at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Ghana.

The discussion was moderated by Ms Sandra Thompson, secretary (general counsel) of the Bank of Ghana.

BoG on corporate culture

Mrs Otoo of the Bank of Ghana, in her submission, said that even though there were very stringent laws governing the banking and financial sectors in Ghana, people in these areas still find ways to misbehave.

“We have the laws, yes, but the financial institutions within the sector need to be very deliberate in trying to carve out responsible corporate cultures for their various institutions. They have to be deliberate and codify policies on how they want their employees to behave and make the policies available to their employees,” Mrs Otoo said.

SEC on self-policing

The deputy director general responsible for legal affairs at the SEC, Mawuse Agyemfra, noted in her presentation that the SEC has instituted several reforms which, going forward, would help to regulate the capital markets in Ghana better.

“What we did is to now replace some parts of the regulation which were very stringent with guidelines, so it is fluid. As and when we feel that there are international perspectives we have to add, as and when we see the markets have some new developments, we can easily work with it,” Mrs Agyemfra said.

GIMPA Law Conference 2020

The 2020 conference was held virtually under the auspices of the African Centre on Law and Ethics (ACLE) at the GIMPA Faculty of Law and was one of the activities lined up to commemorate the GIMPA Faculty of Law’s ten-year anniversary.

Its objective was to provide a platform for discussions relating to the banking and financial sector crisis in Ghana, especially in the wake of COVID-19.

Financial sector reform in Ghana has become a heated topic in the past few years, following the collapse of several banks and other financial institutions.

Wilberforce Asare / Asaase Radio

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