General News of Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Deputy Attorney-General, Godfred Dame says Ghana’s current asset declaration regime is a joke.
This is because assets of public officials still remain confidential as it is concealed from the public, a situation he believes is not an effective anti-corruption tool for combating corruption in the country.
“The current asset declaration regime is a joke to the extent that a public officer at the commencement of this will be compelled to declare the assets but the assets will remain confidential, they are given to the Auditor General which cannot be assessed by anybody at all,” he said.
Speaking at a roundtable discussion organised by KRIF Foundation in partnership with the Australian High Commission on the theme: “Building a culture and framework to combat corruption in the public service,” the Deputy Attorney-General said his department has drafted a bill which is currently before cabinet to address issues surrounding the assets declaration regime.
According to him, the Conduct of Public Officers Bill which is before cabinet will help reform the assets declaration regime by compelling CHRAJ to disclose assets of public officials.
He further laid emphasis on the struggles they go through to retrieve assets from corrupt officials in which he cited, as an example, the ongoing court case which government is trying to retrieve the GHC51.2 million judgement debt paid to businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
According to him, retrieving assets sometimes becomes difficult considering the time the corruption was discovered and the time prosecution begins the proceeds of corruption would have been disposed of making their work very difficult.
The African Court on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) in Tanzania, in a unanimous ruling on November 24, 2017, ordered Ghana to suspend the seizure of any property belonging to businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
The court ordered Ghana to suspend all efforts to retrieve the GH¢51.2 million judgement debt paid to the businessman until the court determined an appeal he filed at the court arguing that his rights are being abused by Ghana’s Supreme Court.
Alfred Agbesi Woyome proceeded to the African Human Rights Court in August 2017 when government began a valuation of his properties in an attempt to retrieve GHC51 million wrongfully paid to him in a judgement debt.
The Court in a decision by an eleven-member panel said it will be unfair for the state to be allowed to auction Woyome’s properties since the court could rule in his favour.
The Supreme Court, however, rejected the order when it was presented by lawyers of the businessman.
Deputy Attorney-General Godfred Yeboah Dame opposed the application saying the Treaty setting up the African Court even though has been ratified by Ghana’s Parliament, it has not been incorporated into Ghana’s laws.
Delivering the decision of the 5-member Panel, Justice Anin Yeboah said the businessman had failed to show any factual or legal basis for the court to hold on with its ruling.
The panel also unanimously dismissed the other application asking that all processes in relation to retrieval of the money be put on hold.