By: Paul Mamattah
The Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Gloria Akuffo, says allowing money laundering to flourish and leaving culprits to benefit from their nefarious activities, would send a wrong signal that crime pays.
According to her, punishment for persons caught in money laundering, should not end with only imprisonment, but theirassets must also be confiscated.
She made the assertion at a day three of the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Week in Accra.
It was on the theme: “Money Laundering And Recovering Of Assets: International Cooperation, Mutual Legal Assistance Conference”.
The forum, seeks to address the increasingly international dimension of crime, corruption and money laundering strengthening the international ties of institutions of the criminal justice sector in Ghana.
The Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Gloria Akuffo, noted that asset recovery, the process by which proceeds of crime are recovered and returned to the victim or country of origin has therefore become a major tool in the global fight against money laundering as well as other financial crimes.
She stressed that it involves the collection of intelligence, tracing of assets, securing of assets, international cooperation, court proceedings, enforcement orders and eventual repatriation of the confiscated asset to the victim of the state.
Gloria Akuffo, stated that the prevention of money laundering must therefore be a collaborative enterprise of all and sundry like government, the media, law enforcement agencies, civil society organisations among others adding that the judiciary is also expected to impose the necessary punishment on perpetrators of the crime.
The AG, therefore, called on all stakeholders to play their role in the fight against money laundering in a concerted collaborative and sustained manner saying; this will reduced significantly but not completely eradicated.
Touching on corruption, she said though no country is immune from corruption, it is in the developing world,
including Ghana, that its effects are most destructive thereby limiting opportunities for the future generation.
The Minister, reiterated that money laundering is a form of corruption that clean up and legitimatising ill-gotten money that has attracted considerable global attention.
She added that, money laundering and its predicate offences thrive where law enforcement is weak. This according to her their schemes have transcended many jurisdictions in alarming proportions and like most crimes always a step ahead of detection.
The Minister stated that one of the mechanisms for fighting corruption is provided in article 286 (2) of the constitution. This she said certain classes of public officers are obliged to submit to the Auditor-General a written declaration of all their assets upon assumption of office, and at the end of the term of office.
Gloria Akuffo, said a breach of this constitutional provision will result in the public officer being investigated by the Commissioner of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the offending officer duly sanctioned where the offence is proved.
The Commissioner of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Joseph Whittal, stated that corruption has been a notorious challenge in the country for quite some time and all efforts legislative to address it, have intensified over the years with the adoption of other corruption measures.
He noted that perpetrators of corruption, have become more sophisticated and the corrupt can undertake the corrupt activity in Ghana and cross the border to Burkina Faso.
Mr Whittal noted that money embezzled in Ghana, may be spent in Nigeria, hidden in Kenya or other countries, adding that; in trying to conceal or hide the true origin of their illegal wealth, employ sophisticated methods.
He explained that it may be through the use of gatekeepers and shell companies that are sometimes difficult to locate.
He noted that with advanced information technology, the modus operandi of the corrupt have even become more complicated, making investigations and recovery of the proceeds of corruption more difficult and challenging.
The event brought together leading national and international institutions to strengthen international legal cooperation in the fight against international crime and money laundering.
The European Union (EU) through its Accountability, Rule of Law and Anti-corruption Programme (ARAP) in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General’s Department, the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice ( CHRAJ) and the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) organised the international forum to discuss and strengthen international legal cooperation in criminal matters.