Ghanaians acquiring suspicious wealth must explain - CHRAJ
The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) is advocating strongly for the criminalization of the law on illicit enrichment to help curb corruption not only in government but every corridors of life.
This move, according to the Director of Anti-Corruption at CHRAJ, Mr. Charles Ayamdoo, reinforces the PNDC Law 1 which used to establish a citizen vetting committee with the mandate to summon and interrogate anyone who is found to have acquired wealth overnight.
He stated that this was done not only to check corruption and suspicious wealth possession in the public sector but the private sector including Ghanaians who were acquiring wealth through dubious means. This was abandoned after the 1992 constitution came into being.
Presenting a gap analysis report on the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption (AUCPCC) at a workshop organized by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) in Accra, Mr. Charles Ayamdoo said Ghana ratified the AUCPCC on 27th June, 2007.
He added that the minimal requirement of article 5, paragraph 1 and article 8, paragraph 1 of the AU convention requires Ghana to criminalize illicit enrichment also known unexplained wealth.
He noted that anyone found to have possessed unexplained wealth ought to be investigated by the anti-corruption agencies as pertained in the AU Convention of which Ghana is a signatory.
Mr. Ayamdoo however indicated that findings from the AU Convention report showed that Ghana has failed to criminalize illicit enrichment as a corruption offence.
He intimated that the existing legislative and measures show that illicit enrichment and conflict of interest have not yet been established as offences in Ghana.
On asset declaration, Mr. Ayamdoo posited that Ghana is in compliance with article 7, paragraphs 1-3 of the AU Convention to fight against corruption and related offences in the public service.
The legislation, according to him, requires a wide range of public officers to declare their assets at the time of assumption of office, during (once every four years) and after their term of office in public service.
The weakness, Mr. Ayamdoo stated, is that the declaration regime is deficient in many respects requiring reforms to compel public officers to disclose their assets.
“Any state official who earns Gh?3,172 equivalent to a Director is required by law to declare but that has never been the case,” he posited.
Confiscation and Seizure
On confiscation and seizure of the proceeds and instrumentalities of corruption, Mr. Ayamdoo indicated that Ghana is compliant in terms of the AU convention.
However, he noted that in terms of compliance with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards, there was no evidence of policy documents and statements to demonstrate that recovering the proceeds of crime is an institutionalised policy objective within the criminal justice system.
Mr. Ayamdoo added that there is also no evidence that confiscation is being pursued and monitored by law enforcement agencies.
According to him, judges and prosecutors do not focus enough on confiscation either as a goal or an integral part of the mechanisms available to deprive criminals of their illicit proceeds.
He added that Ghana lacks a comprehensive mechanism for managing illicit wealth frozen, seized or confiscated.
“There are several agencies confiscating assets creating problems regarding disposing and preservation of these assets. There must be a central point that is mandated to store and manage confiscated items in a well-coordinated manner,” he opined.
Mr. Ayamdoo urged Government to urgently pass the Right to Information (RTI) bill to deepen accountability approach by the citizens.
He added that Government should speed up reforms in asset declaration to curtail anticipatory declarations and further expand the coverage to include other key public officials.
According to him, Government must nominate one lead institution responsible for ensuring reporting of the implementation of the AU convention.