The Attorney General (AG) and Minister for Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, says government is taking all necessary steps to ensure that it puts in place adequate measures to make financial and economic crimes unrewarding in the country.
Addressing participants at the 39th Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime at Cambridge University, United Kingdom, under the theme “Selling status – insider crime and abuse of trust”, today 5 September 2022, Godfred Yeboah Dame, said “economic crimes threaten the prosperity of nations and weakens public confidence in the government of every nation”.
He noted that “they (Economic Crimes) can, not only undermine the values [a nation] hold dear as a society but also prop up the kind of authoritarian regimes that wreak havoc in the world”.
“We are acutely aware of the knock-on effect of corruption on human rights internationally and on our efforts to combat environmental damage. Human rights and nature are the casualties of this system of profiteering, which, in reality, is war by other means.
The punishment of corruption requires the establishment of a fair, honest and efficient justice system. Thus, the need to strengthen criminal justice must sit right at the top of our developmental agenda” Godfred Dame said.
“Criminals ought to be deprived of their assets in order to reduce the impact of their actions and the inspiration they serve to others on the continent. Crime must not be rewarding” he added.
In his address, Dame observed that a “phenomenon that afflicted the financial sector of Ghana between 2018 and 2020 was the emergence of many unlicensed entities operating illegally” in the country with the leaders of the said entities often living “a lavish lifestyle on the proceeds of their illicit activities”.
“Prominent among such entities was an amorphous organisation operating a microfinance institution under the guise of – guess what – gold trading and illegally using the name of a bank.
It called itself Menzbank. Apparently, Menzgold, as it was also called, had been dealing in the purchase and deposit of gold collectibles from the public and issuing contracts with guaranteed returns to clients without a licence from the relevant authorities” the AG said.
“Against caution from the Central Bank, tens of thousands of individuals got hooked on the scheme devised by the company. Following the close down by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the customers could not retrieve their funds.
The company relied on the greed and ignorance of thousands of otherwise hardworking Ghanaians who were prepared to pay their life savings to the suspects in the case, resulting in losses worth millions of dollars” he added.
Emphasizing on the negative impact the Menzgold phenomenon had on the nation, Godfred Dame noted that “the situation caused misery and distress to many homes and unleashed a social crisis as riots and demonstrations broke out on the streets of Accra and other parts of the country”.
“In real terms, people lost their homes, and some marriages have even broken up as a result of the Menzgold saga. Indeed, one lawyer suggested that the story of Menzgold could cause a civil war in Ghana in a manner akin to the civil war in Albania in 1997 caused by aggrieved customers of a Ponzi scheme” Dame noted.
“By the Grace of God, Ghana was saved from such a situation as a result of the prompt action taken by authorities at the helm of the financial system. I am happy to state that after painstaking investigations, dockets on that financial crime are almost ready for prosecution to commence in earnest.
The Office of the Attorney-General is prosecuting other high-profile cases involving the offences of wilfully causing financial loss to the State, stealing, corruption, fraud, procurement breaches and money laundering. These cases have as their sole object the principle of holding public officers to account and involve sums of over $850 million” the AG added.
As part of efforts to combat economic crime, Godfred Dame noted that “Government led by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, recognises that the most enduring way to fight corruption and protect the financial sector is by strengthening the regime for so doing”.
‘In this regard, with a clear understanding that corruption thrives in an atmosphere conducive to its concealment and that access to information is a vital tool in the fight against corruption, the Government ensured the passage of the Right to Information Act 2019 (Act 989).
Other bold legislations introduced by the Government to curb official wrongdoing in the public sector are; the Witness Protection Act, 2018 (Act 975), Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2020 (Act 1044), Corporate Restructuring and Insolvency Act, 2020 (Act 1015), Companies Act, 2019 (Act 992), Revenue Administration (Amendment) Act, 2020 (Act 1029), State Interests and Governance Authority Act, 2019 (Act 990), and Real Estate Agency Act, 2020 (Act 1047)” the Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame said.
The 39th Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime brings together, from across the globe a unique level and depth of expertise to address one of the biggest threats to sustainable development
and the stability and security of our economies.
The annual symposium is organized by Cambridge University and it is the leading global forum for discussion of issues relating to the combat of financial crimes. It draws over 2000 participants from 100 countries.
Ghana’s Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, and 14 other state attorneys involved in criminal prosecution in Ghana attended the symposium.
Others speakers at the event apart from Godfred Dame, are the UK Attorney-General, Rt Hon Suella Braverman QC MP, Attorney-Generals from several other countries, the MP for Cambridge, the Mayors of Cambridge and London, Members of the House of Commons, leading Judicial Officers from around the world and chief law enforcement officials from around the world.