General News of Wednesday, 5 December 2018
A civil society organization, Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), has stated that one of the reasons some public officers get away with illicit enrichment is because the existing legislative and measures of illegal wealth has not yet established as an offense.
They averred that government continues to grapple with the fight against corruption because no law regards the act as a criminal offense.
Hence, an effective way government can tackle corruption effectively is to pass a legislative law which will ensure that the illegal means of acquiring wealth is termed criminal and will attract sanctions for offenders.
Focusing on the extent to which Ghana has discharged her obligations under AUCPCC, when it comes to illicit enrichment, a study by GII disclosed that “the existing legislative and measures show that illicit enrichment and conflict of interest have not yet been established as offences” in Ghana.
It further revealed that “Though Ghana has not established illicit enrichment as corruption offence as the first option, Ghana is in compliance with the minimal requirements of article 5, paragraph 1 and article 8, paragraph 1 of the AU Convention, which require states parties to either criminalize it, or provide assistance and cooperate with other states making a request, it is not compliant with article 20 of the UNCAC, which contains no option other than criminalize illicit enrichment.”
It was however established during a presentation on the topic, “A Focus on Ghana’s Obligations Under the AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC)’, that Ghana lacks comprehensiveness for managing illicit wealth once frozen, seized or confiscated from public officers.
The institution also argued that the possession of inexplicable wealth must not be limited to politicians or public officials only but also to private individuals who do not have substantive proof on how they make their millions.
This, from the perspective of participants, leaves many offenders unpunished and they get away with the crime because there is no law backing the illegal act.
An example is the case of businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, who is said to have received some 51million cedis as judgment debt from the state. He has been asked to cough up the money after a Supreme Court declared the payments unlawful. Although Woyome has paid ¢4.6 million of the debt owed the State, he still walks as a free man.
It was therefore recommended that government must consider establishing illicit enrichment as an offense in order to be able to prevent illegal acquisition of wealth not only by public officials but by any persons – private or public.
It was also suggested that there is the need for a lead anti-corruption solely for managing, tracking and investigating issues of illicit enrichment.
According to the GII this will enhance awareness on Ghana’s obligations under the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption (AUCPCC) which is a shared roadmap for member states to implement governance and anti-corruption policies and systems on a national and regional level.