Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood has warned that authorities of the judiciary would not hesitate to punish errant judges who engage in unwholesome acts and use their positions to undermine the sanctity of that arm of government.
According to her, such judges will not only be removed from office but will also be prosecuted and imprisoned when necessary.
The CJ who was speaking at the Judges Regional Capacity Building Seminar on Corruption, Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in Accra, Monday, also called on the public to refuse to pay bribes to court officials and judges and be prepared to expose them.
The five-day programme, which runs from July 22 to 26, is being organised by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).
The conference being attended by judges and other officials from Ghana, Nigeria and The Gambia is aimed at updating the knowledge of judges in the adjudication of cases involving corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing.
It also serves as a platform for the judges to share experiences and best practices to effectively deal with the circulation of criminal activities in the West African sub-region.
Mrs Justice Wood who spoke on the topic: ”The role of judges in the prevention and control of corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing,” stated that corruption and other forms of economic and financial crimes have increased phenomenally.
She noted that these crimes have become endemic with tentacles that stretch out in global webs and this must galvanised judges who have the mandate and responsibility for ensuring the rule of law, order, stability and respect for human rights to stand up and be counted.
Mrs Justice Wood said increasing exploitation of natural resources such as oil and gas in Africa enhances the potential for wealth generation and the continent runs the risk of becoming an arena for the mobilisation of funds for terrorist activities.
She said money laundering and terrorist financing are crucial enablers of the harm caused by crime and terrorism.
Mrs Justice Wood explained that profit is fundamental to the goals of most crimes and therefore criminals make great effort to move illegally obtained money and other assets in order to conceal the true nature and source of these funds.
Dr Abdullahi Shehu, Director General of GIABA stated that judicial ethics is critical to fighting corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing in the West African sub-region.
He said criminals who are arrested for engaging in money laundering must not just be put into prison custody but should be prevented from benefiting from the proceeds of the crime through orders flowing from the judicial system and the confiscation of their assets.
Mr Samuel Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of the Financial Intelligence Centre, Ghana and GIABA National Correspondent called for successful prosecution of corruption cases since the phenomenon is a critical enabler of money laundering.
He cited a survey conducted by GIABA in West Africa, which shows that there is a cyclical nexus between corruption and money laundering.
“Corruption nurtures money laundering, money laundering leads to increased corruption and increased corruption protects money laundering.”
He said corruption and money laundering renders the economies of countries poorer and susceptible to more serious crimes.