The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) and Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to track the collection and utilisation of Ghana’s petroleum funds.
The MoU which will hold for five years is expected to safeguard the country’s petroleum funds from abuse.
The February 25 signing according to Dr. Steve Manteaw, Chairman of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) is to hold to account managers of petroleum funds who have stolen funds and to also have teeth to bite with EOCO’s backing moving from just issuing recommendations in reports to investigating and prosecuting.
“For us at PIAC, shedding light on what appears to be criminal conduct on the part of some public officials, with respect to the use of petroleum revenues, without holding such people to account, does not in any way serve the accountability mandate that can be inferred from our name,” Dr. Manteaw said.
The MoU is also expected to halt the practice by politicians of diverting petroleum revenue to fund campaign activities.
The PIAC will also sign similar memoranda with other anti-crime agencies such as the Special Prosecutor and the Attorney General (AG).
Although PIAC, by its mandate, is to ensure the efficient management of petroleum revenues for sustainable development, it has no legal backing to investigate or prosecute offenders, hence the need for it to collaborate with bodies that have prosecutorial powers.
Under the MoU, EOCO is also expected to update PIAC at regular intervals on the progress of its investigations on matters referred to it by PIAC.
The Executive Director of EOCO, ACP Mr K. K. Amoah (retd), who signed on behalf of the office, said EOCO, by law, was mandated to investigate and process for prosecution matters that affected the economy and, therefore, the MoU with the PIAC was in the right direction.
He said although EOCO would make its findings available to the PIAC, the final decision to prosecute would rest with the Attorney General, with whom the final report would be lodged.
EOCO’s mandate is to investigate and on the authority of the Attorney-General, prosecute serious offences that involve financial or economic loss to the State, money laundering, human trafficking, prohibited cyber activity, tax fraud and other serious offences.
By Michael Eli Dokosi/goldstreetbusiness.com