Bribery is an English morpheme: Stop claiming to be ‘more Catholic than the Pope’!

Bribery Money Laundering File photo

Fri, 7 Feb 2020 Source: Kwaku Badu

It is quite bizarre that some people would find it somewhat convenient to ‘desecrate’ the Queen’s Language in the wake of Europe’s aeroplane manufacturer, the Airbus’s admission of deliberately doling out huge bribes to some selected countries including Ghana so as to secure contracts during Mills/Mahama administration between 2009 and 2015.

Interestingly, whilst the natives of the Queen’s English Language are referring to bribery in the Airbus corruption scandal, some people (the indigenes of Ewe, Akan, Dagomba, Hausa, Dagarti, Frafra, Gonja etc.), who are claiming to be more Catholic than the Pope, proverbially though, have rather put up a strong resistance that bribery is not the correct terminology. How bizarre?

What appears much more bizarre though, is that the offending organisation, the Airbus, has somehow admitted under oath paying huge bribes to the representatives of the countries involved and has consequently been fined a humongous penalty in excess of £3 billion.

Understandably, though, the main culprit, who also happens to be the top government official one, cited in the report, is a prominent member of the opposition NDC.

So, the political gimmicks and the seeming denials by the vociferous NDC faithful is nothing out of the ordinary, so to speak.

In fact, the NDC loyalists argument that the Airbus payment was a commission and not bribe is a nonstarter.

If, indeed, the payment to the Ghanaian representatives was a mere commission, how then would the Airbus agree to pay a staggering penalty in excess of £3 billion?

The opposition NDC clamorous communicators should stop throwing dust into our eyes: the Airbus indeed paid massive bribes to the selected countries including Ghana in order to gain trading advantage over its competitors.

As it stands, the top government official one has an opportunity to answer the bribery and corruption charges being levelled against him/her by the United Kingdom Serious Fraud Office.

Regrettably, however, it would appear that in Ghana, the justice system more often than not, descends heavily on the goat, cassava and plantain thieves, and let go the remorseless criminals who hide behind the narrow political colourations.

We have, therefore, been hoping somewhat fervently that with the arrival of the Office of the Special Prosecutor, the justice system is going to descend heavily not only on the goat, cassava and plantain thieves, but as well as the hardened criminals who hide behind narrow political colourations.

Let us hope and pray that the Special Prosecutor will manage to nab the shameless racketeers in the Airbus corruption scandal.

Indeed, we are most grateful to President Akufo-Addo for promptly tasking the investigators to probe into the Airbus corruption scandal.

We are extremely optimistic that the Special Prosecutor will diligently probe into the shameful Airbus corruption scandal and bring the culprits into book as soon as possible.

We would, therefore, like to beseech the Special Prosecutor, as a matter of necessity, to roundup and if possible end the political career of the alleged top elected government official one who has been cited in the shameful Airbus corruption scandal.

Let us face it though, the traditional exemption of heads of state from prosecution despite the evidence of a case to answer is wrong.

Dearest reader, if the bribery and corruption; dubious judgment debt payments; stashing of national funds by some greedy opportunists and misappropriation of resources and crude embezzlement by some politicians do not warrant criminal charges, then where are we heading as a nation?

The all-important question every discerning Ghanaian should be asking is: will the day come when “Ghana’s political criminals” find they have nowhere to hide?

To me, Ghana’s 1992 Constitution has to be reviewed and the irrational and inexpedient clauses such as the indemnity clauses are expunged and tossed into the dust bin accordingly.

How on earth can individuals commit unpardonable crimes (gargantuan sleazes and corruption) against the state and get away with their misdeeds?

How serious are we as a nation when we can only descend heavily on the goat, cassava and plantain thieves, and let go the unrepentant criminals who persistently dip their hands into the national coffers?

Who is corrupt?

Corruption, so to speak, impedes economic development by distorting markets and collapsing private sector integrity. And more so corruption is a global phenomenon which requires a collaborative effort to prevent and eradicate.

It was against such backdrop that in its resolution 55/61 of 4 December 2000, the UN General Assembly recognised that an effective international legal instrument against corruption, independent of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (resolution 55/25, annex I) was desirable, and decided to establish an ad hoc committee for the negotiation of such an instrument in Vienna at the headquarters of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Subsequently, the international community adopted the UN Convention against Corruption in 2003 and came into force in 2005.

Suffice it to state that the UN Convention against Corruption is the first meaningful universal instrument enacted to prevent and combat corruption with a view to networking and building on a broad international consensus.

What exactly is corruption?

“Corruption is the misuse of public power (by elected politician or appointed civil servant) for private gain. “Corruption is the misuse of entrusted power (by heritage, education, marriage, election, appointment or whatever else) for private gain”.

How is bribe treated under the law?

In fact, different countries have different responses to the preceding question, by definition as well as interpretation. In some jurisdictions, for instance, the courts may consider an oral offer of a bribe, not as attempted bribery, unless the briber takes further steps. An OECD report, however, suggests that broad definitions of corruption may be one reason why prosecutions are so low.

Apparently, the OECD, the Council of Europe and the UN conventions do not explicitly define “corruption”, but have established a range of corrupt offences.

For example, the OECD Convention establishes the offence of bribery of foreign public officials, while the Council of Europe adds trading influence and bribing of domestic public officials as well.

Besides, the UN Convention covers embezzlement, misappropriation of property and obstruction of justice.

In fact, one mostly-cited mystery is distinguishing illegal trading in influence from legal lobbying.

Interestingly, however, the Council of Europe Convention criminalises trading of “improper influence”, i.e., corrupt intent.

On the other hand, the UN Convention only covers peddlers who “abuse” their influence. While the OECD glossary notes that international definitions of corruption for policy purposes are common, and cites “abuse of public or private office for personal gain” as a useful example for policy development” (OECD 2007).

Favouritism, Cronyism and Nepotism

In terms of meanings, favouritism, nepotism and cronyism all involve abuses of discretion. Even though some countries do not criminalise the conduct, (Article 7 of the UN Convention against Corruption covers merit selection without even mentioning nepotism).

Suffice it to stress that those violations usually involve not a direct personal benefit to an official but promote the interests of those related to the official, whether through family, political party, tribe, or religious group.

In fact, a fantastically corrupt official who hires a relative (nepotism) or a friend (cronyism), does so, in exchange, not often of a bribe but of the less tangible benefit of advancing the interests of others connected to the official.

The unlawful favouring of - or discrimination against - individuals can be based on a wide range of group characteristics: tribe, religion, geographical factors, political or as well as personal or organizational relationships, such as friendship or shared membership of clubs or associations.

In synopsising, we hope and pray that the Office of the Prosecutor will endeavour to investigate, fish out and prosecute the impenitent conspiratorial plotters ing the Airbus corruption scandal.

K. Badu, UK.


Columnist: Kwaku Badu