The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, has charged the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to up its game in recovering proceeds of economic crime.
“It is undesirable for perpetrators of economic crime to conceal or keep the fruits of their crimes against the people of Ghana.
“Such a situation breeds mistrust in the system and robs the nation of much needed revenue for the execution of lofty developmental projects,” he stated.
Mr Dame made this demand when he swore in a nine-member governing board of the EOCO in Accra yesterday.
Chaired by Stephen Raymond Dapaah-Addo, the Board is expected to formulate policies necessary for the EOCO to be able to prevent and detect organised crime as well as to facilitate the confiscation of the proceeds of crime as provided in the EOCO Act.
Other Members of the Board are Commissioner of Police (COP) Mrs Maame Yaa Tiwaa Addo-Danquah, the Executive Director; Deputy Commissioner of PoliceErnest KwabenaOwusu, rep of the Inspector General of Police; Kenneth Adu-Amanfo, rep of the Narcotics Control Commission; and Alfred Tuah-Yeboah, rep of the Minister of Justice
The rest are SeiduIddrisu-Issah of the Ghana Revenue Authority; Peter KwasiDadzie, private legal practitioner; COP George Alex Mensah, chartered accountant; and Lt Col retired AbabioSerebour
According to Mr Dame, mechanisms like search and seizure powers, the power to track properties and the power to investigate tax fraud as stipulated by the EOCO Act clothes the Office to be able to ensure criminals did not walk away with their ill-gotten wealth.
“I implore the new board to formulate policies and superintend affairs of the Office in a manner as to efficiently boost its recovery of proceeds of economic crime function under the law,” he charged.
Additionally, Mr Dame said there was the need for the EOCO to focus efforts on the investigation of serious tax fraud to bring tax evaders to book.
“With the evident competition of many sectors for the nation’s scarce resources, the situation where big companies and entities, including multi-national firms operating in Ghana which are required to contribute significantly to tax revenue of the state, understate or hide their true income in a bid to evade a satisfaction of their true obligations to the state is unjustified,” he stressed.
Hinting that prosecution of such organisations would be his focus this year, Mr Dame expected of the EOCO to “devise very efficient means of investigating such offences to ensure their able prosecution.”
On behalf of the Board, the Chairman, Mr Dapaah-Addo, said they would work assiduously to give the management the needed direction for the set goals to be attained.
Ghanaians, the Chairman said were getting away with “blue murder and flaunting wealth but we do not know the tax that they are paying” and assured that their tenure would ensure that illicit proceeds were recovered for the state.
“On behalf of my board, I assure that we will dedicate and devote ourselves to the service of EOCO for the period we are appointed,” the chairman said as he asked for logistics for the smooth operation of the anti-graft agency.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI