Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) have nosedived in the Ghana’s Fishing industry, forex market, imports and exports, the main conduits of the economic crime.
Mr Abdulai Bashiru Dapilah, Head of Organised Crime and member of the Illicit Financial Flows Unit, Ministry of Finance, who disclosed this, said the four areas were noted for swift and huge illicit Financial Flows.
He said with respect to imports, in the year 2019, through audit of Customs Management Systems, it was discovered that about 1.8 billion dollars had been transferred outside the country.
According to him, during their preliminary investigations, they were unable to connect these transfers with any goods coming into the country.
Mr Dapilah was speaking at a Public Forum held at the Ghana-Indian Kofi Annan Centre in Accra on Thursday on the role of the Media in the fight against Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) in Ghana.
The forum was organised by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in partnership with the Economic and Organised Crime Office and Oxfam Ghana.
He mentioned that crimes identified in that type of transfers were trade under invoicing, tax fraud, money laundering, among other things.
“With regards to exports too, with the support of the Precious Minerals Marketing Commission (PMMC), we have examined about 10 gold companies for the period of 2018 to 2020 and from these 10 companies, we also established that these companies have transferred about 1.1 billion dollars’ worth of gold outside the country.”
He said his outfit was yet to establish how those funds came into the country and destination of the gold was also yet to be established.
According to him, they also established that many of these gold exporters were ex-patriates and they merely used Ghanaian gold export licenses to export the gold and give these companies commission.
Additionally, he said the vehicles used by these expatriates were the forex bureaux operators who used their personal accounts for these people who also falsify commercial invoices and used same to generate import generation form.
He said they have realised that the checks at the bank were normally weak because the banks acted after 90 days and before that these people would have effected these transfers.
Mr Dapilah said one of the endemic areas for illicit financial flows was the Fishing industries where Ghanaians front foreign companies and register vessels in the name of local companies, and some evade taxes.
“These people conceal the proceeds and in the name of paying for the vessel, they transfer these monies outside,” he said.
He therefore tasked the media to liaise with institutions to come out with messages that would be understood by the public thereby helping the devastating effect of illicit financial flows in the country.
Dr Emmanuel Steve Manteaw, a Policy analyst and Chairman, Civil Society Platform on Oil, noted the illicit Financial Flows persisted because of lack of proactiveness on the part of regulatory and enforcing institutions.
He noted that those institutions lacked resources to even follow up on leads of reported cases to get to the bottom of incidents.
Dr Manteaw called for more commitment from the Government to fund institutions to fight organised crimes such as illicit financial flows.
On the gold for oil policy by government, he said it would better for the Government to think through that policy when it came to raising of finance.
He said IFFs had creeped into the banking sector, imports and exports, real estate, and fishing industry, gold, and cocoa.
He said if the IFFs were curtailed, it would have saved the country from obtaining loans from the International Monetary Fund.
Nana Akwasi Awuah, Managing Director, Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC), noted that the company had provided revenue assurance for gold that left the country, adding that “there was more room for improvement.”
The MD for PMMC said the Right to Information law was key in the fight against illicit Financial Flows and urged journalists to commit themselves to more training programmes so they could ask institutions relevant questions to curb crime.
He also appealed to journalists to arm themselves with knowledge in accounting so they could “distil stories from figures on Illicit Financial flows.
Mr Mohammed Mahamud, Accountable Governance Programme Lead, Oxfam Ghana noted that illicit Financial Flows had deprived communities of essential services.
He therefore urged the audience to reflect on the devastating effects of Illicit Financial Flows and come out with measures to curb that crime.
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