The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service is taking action against the influx of counterfeit goods onto the Ghanaian market.
The move is to protect trademarks — signs which distinguish one product from others — against counterfeiting and save lives.
In line with the commitment of the CID, a one-day training programme has been organised in Accra for regional police crime officers from the 11 Ghana Police Service administrative regions and eight selected divisional and district police crime officers from parts of the country.
The capacity-building programme, which will be replicated at the divisional and district levels for all detectives, was sponsored by Sollatex Ghana Limited, a dealer in consumer electronics.
Although data on counterfeit activities are difficult to obtain in Ghana, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that globally the counterfeit business is in excess of $250 billion a year and hundreds of billions more if pirated digital products and domestic counterfeit sales are included.
According to the UNODC, in many parts of the world, international, regional and national law enforcement authorities had uncovered intricate links between that crime and other serious offences including illicit drugs, money laundering and corruption.
Winning the war
Speaking at the opening of the training programme, the Deputy Director General of the CID, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Mr Dennis Abade, said the counterfeiting business was a global, multi-billion dollar crime which organised criminal groups cashed in to amass wealth.
He said in Ghana, the menace had led to the influx of fake goods on the market, noting that by training detectives to enforce the law, the war on the trade in counterfeiting goods could be contained.
The Director of Operations of the CID, Chief Superintendent of Police Mr Felix K. Mawusi, said there were over 13 different laws in Ghana that dealt with various aspects of intellectual property but only three main laws, comprising the Trade Mark Act 664 of 2004, the Trade Mark Act 876 of 2014 and the Criminal Offence Act 29 of 1960, were used in criminal enforcement.
During the training, he said, participants would be taken through the amended trademark law which had made new provisions on the handing of confiscated goods and how to forfeit such goods to the state.
The new law, he said, unlike the old act, had made it possible to destroy confiscated goods or hand them over to the state while prosecution of the accused persons were ongoing, while under the old law that could only be done at the end of the trial.
Additionally, the new act, he said, had enhanced the punishment for engaging in counterfeit trade.
While the old act attracted imprisonment of between one and two years or a fine of between 250 and 500 penalty units, the new law provided that offenders served not less than five years and not more than 15 years in prison, he said.
“The fine for convicted persons has also been increased to a minimum of 2,500 penalty units and a maximum of 7,000 penalty units,” he said.
A penalty unit is GH¢12.
The Managing Director of Sollatex Ghana Limited, Mr Joe Fabin, speaking at the opening of the programme, explained that the company was sponsoring the training because it had been experiencing the counterfeiting of its products.