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09.09.2019 Feature Article

Masked Wealth

Masked Wealth
LISTEN SEP 9, 2019

They have made their riches untraceable. It is all masked. They take from the state, they hide privately. Many have said, claiming they have seen, the stolen money from the state sent to other motherlands to buy property thereby funding construction work for the compatriots of those motherlands. That way, they create jobs for compatriots in those motherlands, while our jobless compatriots cry for jobs. Those who know believe the practice is, perhaps, the greatest source for perpetrating our corruption woes.

Once, someone told me that certain organisations, such as those which are involved in managing other people's money and therefore have their workers exposed to other people's monies daily, have developed means for tracking down the lifestyle and spending patterns of their employees. They develop effective tracking systems that enable them to detect at the earliest stages of possible theft by an employee. They monitor bank accounts held by their employees and they even strive to add those of spouses, partners, children and relatives. That sounds like a clue for corporate motherland to develop similar tracking systems for appointees.

A geography teacher introduced us to the terms onshore and offshore. We were having a class about winds and temperatures; how the two interact with water as the third element. Concrete buildings store heat during the hot sunny day and give the heat out in the night as warmth or uncomfortable heat. Waters of the sea warm up during the hot sunny day, and blow cooled water as breeze on land while sucking the warmth from land unto the sea. Without reason, that poor teacher was given the nickname 'onshore.' It could have been 'offshore' not 'onshore' or even 'onshore-offshore' for balance and equity.

Offshore, though, has become, somehow, a dirty word associated with siphoning of public funds into private banks. The infamous Panama papers exposed the practice of creating overnight bank accounts, shielded by secrecy of banking, into which siphoned state funds get laundered. Beyond the phoney bank accounts, may also be created overnight, registered companies, which win contracts for the same purpose of stealing public funds. From rich and smart Germany to trumping US, Britannia and our own motherland, people connected to politics and the disbursement of public funds were found to have been hiding their wealth in schemes located in those so-called tax haven lands.

Onshore and offshore are oil drilling location terms too. They are clues galore. One doesn't have to look far for triggers for unmasking political wealth and sakawa wealth. The more public money was stolen, the more petrol and gas filling stations sprung up.

Also, presidential staffer and MP are linked. Then, someone rode on the back of the NUGS, where student money may be stolen unaccounted for (I audited 1973 accounts), to become youth organizer. Next thing he is in parliament perpetually with enough money to be talking of becoming president. And there is no state mechanism for checking his wealth. The usual rumour is that he has plenty cash stashed in the two motherlands feuding over xenophobia. I am not sure if that is onshore or offshore. Neither can I say overseas because you can fly to both lands without crossing over a sea.

When a compatriot complains, no matter the way and manner of the complaint, the one complained against, he or she who has stolen our money, would use that same money to force the complainant, to use his or her privately and hard earned small money in court defence. These days, with all the sophisticated technology and virtually each motherland, including ours, carving its own anti money laundering legislation, it is surprising people who blatantly steal from public funds, never get caught.

If I were a president, which I never will be because for one, I am a chief, I will call Domelevo and say please give me one person like you; and then I will call Tiwaa (not the savage one) and say please give me one person like you, and then I will call Interpol and say please give me your most competent tracker person; and then I will call vigilante Alamisi and say give me one incorruptible person like you and then I will approach baba short and say comb the entire motherland and choose one honest person for me.

Then I will call all five together and tell them to give me a list of all the owners of Trasacco houses, all the owners of Apapa in Accra houses, all the owners of filling stations and all the owners of radio stations. It “could” be a partial list of where our stolen public and bank monies go; a beginning for an extended tracking scrutiny to expose the veneer and papered over wealth of thieves of public money, to catch them one by one.

By Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh

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