Group of 20 official corruption

Group of 20 official corruption

The Group of 20, known, in a short form, as G20, met in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022, deliberated on important pressing global matters and incorporated its decisions in a declaration at the end of the meeting.

Known as Bali G20 Leaders’ Declaration, the Group expressed grave concern about the prevalence of official corruption in the world and its negative impact on economic and social development of nations.

As part of the Declaration, the G20 leaders stated: “…We recall our commitments and call on all countries to criminalise bribery, including bribery of foreign public officials and effectively prevent, combat, detect, investigate, prosecute and sanction bribery.

“We will inform on our actions towards criminalising foreign bribery in legislation in line with Article 16 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and look forward to enlarging participation to OECD Anti-Bribery Convention as appropriate,” the Declaration added.

What is the G20 or Group of 20?

According to Wikipedia, the G20 is an inter-governmental forum comprising 19 countries and the European Union.

“It works to address major issues relating to the global economy such as international financial stability, climate change mitigation and sustainable development.”

It was founded in 1999 and it is regarded as the main forum for international cooperation.

Originally, it was a forum for finance ministers and central bank governors to deliberate on global economic matters.

In 2008, it was elevated to the grade of a forum of heads of state / government because of the global economic recession of 2007 and the global financial crunch of 2008.

It became a “premier forum for international economic cooperation” in 2009.

The G20 now meets every year and the presidency of the Group now rotates among member states.

From the beginning, the G20 limited its deliberations to broad macro-economic issues.

It has, presently, expanded its roles to include trade, climate change, sustainable development, health, agriculture, energy, environment and anti-corruption.

 Membership of the G20 include: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, India, Italy and Japan.

Others are: Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.

The entire membership of the G20, presently, represents about 85 per cent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product and over 75 per cent of world trade.

The population of the G20 membership comprises about two-thirds of the total global population.

African, or the African Union, is scheduled to become a member of the G20 at its next annual meeting this year.

              When admitted, Africa would add a total of 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of $3.4 billion to the G20 economic strength and population spread.

              Regarding bribery and corruption as banes to economic and social development of the world, the United Nations had supervised the adoption of the UN Convention Against Corruption in October 2003.

It became enforceable in 2005.

The UNCAC embraces many areas of corruption, including bribery, trading influence, abuse of functions and corruption in the private sector of the national economy.

It embodies a specific chapter on asset recovery that is aimed at returning assets to their rightful owners, especially countries from which money acquired through bribery and corruption had been taken unlawfully.

It is great news to Africans and the African continent that the African Union would represent Africa at the G20 annual meeting when it is admitted this year.

Africa’s voice would be heard at the G20 meeting every year and that should make a big impact on the continent’s economic development.

However, Africa is part of the world where corruption is rampant and intractable.

As an economic menace, the problem with corruption has to be tackled with strong moral will to help Africa benefit more from its G20 membership.

At its 2022 Bali meeting, the G20 Bali Leaders’ Declaration expressed concern about corruption, and affirmed its determination to eliminate it by legal means.

The records show that African economies lose millions of dollars, yearly, through corruption.

Negative impacts of corruption on African economies, according to an online source, include: financial loss, damage to employees’ morale, damage to organisations’ reputation, and diversion of organisational focus and resources away from delivering core business and services to the community.

Ghana is among African countries that have established institutions to achieve reduction or elimination of corruption.

The bodies include: the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), formerly Serious Fraud Office (SFO), and Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP).

In addition, there are the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service.

In Article 218 (e) of the 1992 Ghana Constitution, the CHRAJ is empowered “to investigate all instances of alleged or suspected corruption and the misappropriation of public money, by officials and to take appropriate steps, including reports to the Attorney General and the Auditor General, resulting from such investigation”.

EOCO was established under Act 804 of 2010 – “to monitor and investigate economic and organised crime and, under the authority of the Attorney General, prosecute these offences to recover the proceeds of crime and provide for related matters”.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor was established in 2018 under an Act of Parliament, Act 959, of 2017.

OSP is charged, as well, to investigate and prosecute specific cases of alleged corruption and corruption-related offences in the public and private sectors and to prosecute at the instance of the Attorney General.

It appears, in practice, that the three institutions are performing the same functions with regard to corruption.

It is obvious that there is no specialisation, but there is duplication of functions.

With the coming of the OSP, the role assigned to the CHRAJ, a constitutional body, on corruption-related matters has been overshadowed by the OSP which is a statutory creation.

The new Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyeben, inherited 31 cases in 2021.

Presently, the number of cases with the OSP has increased to over 120, including the UK Serious Fraud Office-investigated Airbus bribery case involving Ghana’s “Government Official Number 1”.

Among those, are cases about suspected economic and organised crimes, illegal mining, alleged fraudulent land acquisition, and others, that to me, are not special corruption-related issues.

I believe the OSP will be able to work with dispatch – if it limits its load of work to a few special cases.

It should allow the other corruption-related institutions to deal with the rest.

Duplication of functions will be avoided and cases will not pile up. Specialisation will save public funds and promote efficiency.

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