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General News of Friday, 27 October 2017

Source: citifmonline.com

Special Prosecutor will make corruption unattractive – Attorney General

The Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo, has told Parliament that the proposed Office of the Special Prosecutor will vigorously pursue the recovery of state funds in a bid to make corruption unattractive.

Gloria Akufo added that, in order for this to be realized, the Office needed to be made independent of all interference from political actors and the Attorney General’s department.

She made these remarks at the second reading stage of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill in Parliament. “The independence of the Office of the Special Prosecutor is secured by insulating the office from the direction or control of a person or an authority in the performance of a function of the office,” she said.

“The Bill also spells out the mandate of the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

This includes the investigation and prosecution of cases of alleged corruption under the Public Procurement Act, and other corruption offences implicating public officers, politically-exposed persons and individuals in the private sector implicated in the commission of the offence, and the recovery of proceeds gained from the commission of corruption-related offences in order to make corruption very unattractive in this country.”

Gloria Akuffo explained that, the Bill would grant certain powers to the Special prosecutor, mandating them to, among other things, order the seizure of properties or the freezing of accounts belonging to persons under investigation.

She added that, the staff of the Office of the Special Prosecutor would also be able to invite persons of interest to any investigation for questioning.

“The Special Prosecutor is empowered to request the presence of a person or representative of an entity whose affairs are to be investigated or any other person the Office considers necessary to assist them with information relevant to the matter being investigated by the Office,” she explained.

“The Bill further specifies how the Office of the Special Prosecutor is required to deal with the proceeds of corruption. An authorized officer is empowered to seize properties reasonably suspected to be tainted with corruption or corruption-related offences.”

Anti-corruption campaigner, Martin Amidu, had earlier punched holes into the much-hyped Special Prosecutor Bill, which government intends to use as a tool to fight corruption among state officials.

In a 25-page paper critiquing aspects of the Bill, Amidu questioned the inclusion of a clause that seeks to limit the Special Prosecutor to specific crimes.

“The attempt to distinguish types of corruption offences that may be investigated and prosecuted by the Special Prosecutor sends the clear message to Ghanaians that the President and his Government now accept that certain types of corruption offences are not serious for prosecution or at least to be prosecuted by the Special Prosecutor,” he added.

Former Deputy Attorney General, Dr. Dominic Ayine has also raised constitutional issues with the Bill, which he feels must be corrected in the interest of the country.

“One could drive a truckload of constitutional issues through the Bill,” the Bolgatanga East Member of Parliament said.