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10.04.2007 General News

SFO to be expanded to fight wider corruption

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The government is working towards wide ranging reforms in its anti-corruption drive, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Joe Ghartey has said.

He said the reforms included the expansion of the mandate of the Serious Fraud Office whose ambit bow focused on economic loss to the state.

Upon his return from Johannesburg, South Africa where he attended the fifth Global Forum on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity, Mr Ghartey said it was being proposed that the SFO be renamed the Serious Fraud and Organised Crime Office with the mandate expanded from investigating economic loss to the state to money laundering and cyber crime among other criminal activities.

He said the Attorney General's Department was also planning an amendment to the Whistleblower's Act to expand its scope to look at corruption in the private sector.

Mr Ghartey explained that it was necessary for a review of certain provisions in the Whistleblower's Act in order to rope in the private sector particularly so at this stage when the government was determined to make the private sector the focus of the nation's growth pole.

He said elsewhere in the advanced world the most corrupt practices originated from the sector.

Mr. Ghartey reiterated that the fight against corruption must not be the concern of only the government but must be a national agenda, saying that “it is a process and not an event”.

The Attorney General said in order to succeed, the fight against corruption must be a sustained one, since it could not be a one-off event.

“We have to go about it with law, administrative procedures, transparency and accountability and eschew impunity”, he said.

Mr. Ghartey said the most important thing was the fight against corruption should be fought at all levels in the area of sports, health, law, education and in the private sector.

He said the government was undertaking gap analysis of the UN and AU Conventions on corruption with the view to bringing local anti-corruption legislation in tune with international conventions.

He said the proposed gap analysis was also necessary because of the weakness in the present legislation which focused on public officials to the exclusion of private officials although all over the world the major scandals involved players in the private sector.

Source: Daily Graphic

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