Ghana?s? Anti-corrupt Agencies have been reminded by Oil and Gas experts that corruption in the oil industry will always exist but steps must be developed to minimize it. To that extent, every country must develop its laws to check what is reported from one side of the bargain as well as the corresponding side of the participating companies, stakeholders, and other players in the sector. In addition, a regulatory scheme that provides harsher penalties and deterrence. But most important, promoting transparency in the? industry.
These reminders was given during a two-day training workshop organized by the African Center for Energy Policy (ACEP) for relevant government and other public agencies on analysing petroleum contracts as a catalyst to combating corruption in Ghana?s Oil and Gas Sector. Drawn from anti-corrupt agencies such as the Ghana Police Service, the Judiciary, the Economic and Organize Crime Office (EOCO) and the media. others selected representatives from the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Financial Intelligence Unit, the Auditor-General department, the Ghana Integrity Initiative, the Ghana Anti-corruption Coalition, and Centre for Democratic Development.
The training is being organized as part of a STAR-Ghana sponsored project titled ?Evidence-Based Advocacy on Implementation of the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) in the Oil and Gas Sector?. ACEP is a leading international and pan-African energy policy think-and-do-tank based in Accra Ghana. ACEP has a highly trained team of Energy Experts and Lawyers offering innovative and pragmatic solutions to the challenges posed by the Energy Sector in Africa with particular reference to Ghana.
Under the theme ?Combatting Corruption in the Oil and Gas Sector in Ghana?, the objective of the workshop is to support capacity development in anti-corruption agencies and empower them to identify and check abuses in the oil and gas industry. It is also in response to the National Anti-Corruption Action Plan which recommends capacity development in State agencies responsible for checking corruption.
The training will cover fundamentals of the oil and gas industry, processes for awarding Petroleum Contracts and analysis of Contractual obligations. They were also taking through Mastering the Contracting Processes, and Combating the Corruption in the Oil Contracts.
Bringing Global perspective to bear, Mr. Stephen Olson, Partner Baker Hostetler LLP of Houston Texas explained that corruption in the oil and gas sector takes place because of greed of players, public officials and only stiffer punishment will deter people from indulging in it.
Working in more than 20 countries globally and flew immediately out of Ghana? he told the investigators that fines or title lost and other lesser known punishments will not do any significant deterrence until stiffer ones are applied and urged all who want the progress of the host communities and societies (who are the losers) to stand up for that. Mr. Olson noted that although countries might be blacklisted as corrupt but giant oil companies will still be willing to play ball with them.
Citing examples, the legal brain specialist Oil and Gas from Texas, noted revealed interesting scenarios about how corrupt practices as monitoring of the oil block and leases must be done in the open.? Those who are asked to do that might be induced with money while the right thing is not carried out and both state and society suffers.
Touching on taxes, he suggested that Ghana can demand the publications of revenue receipts from both government (already being done) and that of the companies holding the blocks as well. He said the big Accounting firms are so sophisticated with huge financial muscle that it is very difficult for countries such as Ghana to be able to detect the loop holes if transparency is not demanded in this regard. The oil industry is so highly sophisticated that funds are shifted from one jurisdiction to another or from one block to the other in other to avoid paying taxes to the state and host communities.
Areas of Corruption
In some cases, these funds are moved into safe havens such as Gibraltar, Cayman Islands, or Virgin Island that give these companies protection from a third party from knowing the real amounts and owners of companies that claim to do business. And in most cases locals front for them.?? Oversight Committees are also another area where corrupt practices can be practiced or take place, where they can easily be bribed and overlook the issues that they were asked to do.? Such committees such as Parliamentary sub-committees, Ministry officials, and Customs, or local authorities etc are easily susceptible to bribery.
Multiplicity of permits needed for companies to operate, every inch also induces corruption as those put there can easily be captured with favors. And the solution is to have scheduled of permit approvals and that should be done in open for all to see to reduce the incidence of corruption. ?He asked the participants who gets the signature bonuses. Who monitors the metering and enforcement and even how it is calibrated?
Source :Seibik Bugri