Referees who took bribe cannot be prosecuted — GOC boss

BY: By Chris Nunoo
• Mr Nunoo Mensah speaking at the Interpol summit
• Mr Nunoo Mensah speaking at the Interpol summit

The president of the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC), Mr Ben Nunoo Mensah, has stated categorically that referees alleged to have indulged in bribery in Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ Number 12 investigative video cannot be prosecuted under any of the country’s criminal laws.

This, he explained, was because the exchange of money or items between two private citizens could not be described as a crime under the Criminal Code of Ghana.
He has, therefore, advocated for an amendment of the country’s criminal laws to tackle the growing incidence of match-fixing, which was destroying the integrity of sports in Ghana and the world at large.

Mr Nunoo Mensah, who is in the French city of Lyon to participate in a two-day Interpol Match-Fixing Task Force summit, told the Daily Graphic on telephone that what constituted a criminal act had to be between a private person and a public officer, or between two public officers per the laws of the country.

Ghana’s delegation included ACP Frederick Agyei, Head of Interpol (Ghana) and Mr Alex Kwakye, the Compliance Manager of the Gaming Commission.
For the GOC president, it was about time the country’s laws were amended to make match-fixing in sports a criminal act.

“It would be interesting to see under which criminal law these referees will be prosecuted because match-fixing is not a crime under our Criminal Code,” he said yesterday, pointing out that the referees involved in the alleged bribery were neither public office holders nor were they acting as public office holders when they were filmed by Anas during his undercover investigations.

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Mr Nunoo Mensah mentioned Asia as one of the continents where match-fixing and illegal betting were a multi-billion dollar industry and said organised crime wanted to take advantage of the huge amount of money in football betting, thus resorting to match-fixing to make huge returns.

Match-fixing and illegal betting were identified at the Lyon summit as emerging crimes in Ghana and on the African continent.

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Citing data from Interpol, which spans from 2014 to 2017 to buttress his point, the GOC boss said the document put Ghana among countries with the highest media reports of alleged match-fixing in the world.

The summit, which ended yesterday, was aimed at bringing together law enforcement agencies around the world to tackle match-fixing/sports corruption to maintain integrity in sports.

Key stakeholders who participated in the summit included football’s world governing body (FIFA), Global Lottery Monitoring System (GLMS), International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The meeting sought to educate and train key actors in sports in how to recognise, resist and report attempts to corrupt or fix matches.

It was also to prepare law enforcement bodies on how to investigate and co-operate in cases related to corruption or match-fixing and to train sports fact-finders on how to initiate and carry out an internal enquiry into suspected manipulation of competitions.