General News Fri, 3 Dec 2004

Corrupt Officials to be blacklisted from US

A United States anti-corruption law, which denies entry to people, involved in corruption, associated with the corrupt or who may have benefited from corrupt deals could affect some Ghanaian ministers and government officials in the current and past administrations.

Section 212 of the American Immigration and Nationality Act, introduced in January, gives authority to "suspend entry as immigrants or non-immigrants of persons engaged in or benefiting from corruption".

Under the new law, which came into effect in the US, in January, officials, their families and business associates who engage in or benefit from the corruption were blacklisted from entering the US.

President George W. Bush signed the law denying entry into the US immigrants or non-immigrants who have committed or benefited from corruption that "adversely affects diverse US interests."

The law has already affected a former Kenyan official. Former Kenyan minister Nicholas Biwott has been banned from entering the United States for alleged corruption. Washington revoked his visa on Wednesday under a new law but refused to disclose the evidence against him.

Mr Biwott, 63, was considered one of Kenya's most powerful politicians during the reign of former President Daniel arap Moi.

He was one of several ministers named in an inquiry into the siphoning of $700m of government funds. (read more on the Kenyan case)

The US decision to cancel his visa under the anti-corruption law should serve as a warning to officials in the Kufuor government involved in shady deals. This should also be a warning to future government officials.

Some of the scandals being uncovered in the Rawlings and Kufuor government could easily lead to a top ministers and MPs suffering the same fate as the Kenyan.

If this law is applied fairly, it should help to reduce corruption and consequently boost our economy


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