Ghana Integrity Initiative, the Local Chapter for Transparency International has held a one-day media training workshop, focusing on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) for selected Journalists in the Western Region.
The workshop organized in partnership with Friends of the Nation (FoN) seeks to enhance the capacity of journalists to investigate corrupt cases relating to IFFs as a strategy to promote greater transparency and reduce corruption in Ghana.
The Project is funded by Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, through Global Financial Integrity (GFI).
Mr Michael Kwame Boadi, Fundraising Manager, Ghana Integrity Initiative who took the participants through the introduction to IFFs described reporting on IFF issues as complex and challenging, which needed extra smart journalism to truly fight that variety of financial crime.
He indicated that IFFs were white-collar in nature and were perpetrated by crooks who operated with utmost sophistry, that even state agencies had a hard time having a handle on.
He mentioned the net effects of IFF to include, reduced tax revenue and impeded development, undermine good governance, since IFF often involved corruption, bribery and other criminal activities which erode the integrity of public institutions and undermine the rule of law.
Mr Boadi said IFFs could exacerbate conflicts and instability, since it could be used to fund illicit activities, terrorism and armed conflicts, adding that IFF could also deprive the state of resources for development, hence the poor and vulnerable turned to be denied the needed development
He said IFFs Issues should be a matter of concern to every country especially West African country like Ghana, because the Ghana government lost potential tax revenue of $3.86 billion between 2002 and 2011 through Trade Mis invoicing.
He said Ghana Revenue Authority was able to retrieve at least 15 million dollars from a company which built the Ghana Gas Plant for over pricing some materials it used in the construction of the gas processing plant.
Mr Boadi indicated that investigation conducted by EOCO on eight gold export companies for the period of 2019 to 2021 revealed a total of 1,147.350.106.74 dollars illicit flow out of Ghana, adding that audit conducted into Ghana’s custom management system in 2019 revealed am amount of $1.8 billion was transferred out of the country for which no goods came into the country.
He said an assessment conducted on a trade data between Ghana and Switzerland, India and the United Arab Emirates established that over $6 billion worth of gold exports remained unaccounted for from 2013 to 2016.
He said during the same period Switzerland’s gold export figures revealed that they had imported close to $7 billion worth of gold from Ghana, while Ghana’s official records indicated an export of a little over $3 billion.
He told the participants that investigating IFFs issues could be a complex and challenging process, but that there were several best practices that could be followed to increase the effectiveness of their investigations.
He mentioned the conduct of thorough research, build a network of sources, follow up the money trail, protect sources and whistleblowers as some of the best practices to investigate IFF issues.
Mr Boadi said Journalists should also be ethical in investigating IFF issues by protecting their sources, ensuring accuracy and fairness, minimize harm, avoid conflict of interest, respect for privacy, transparency and accountability as well as legal consideration.
Mr Maxwell Kpebesaan Kuu-ire Policy Analyst -West Africa Global Financial Integrity (GFI) said his outfit was ever ready to support journalists with funds and the needed logistics to investigate and report on IFFs issues.
“To demonstrate our commitment to reduce IFF issues in Ghana we have set aside funds for journalist who are genuinely interested and committed in reporting or investigating IFFs issues.”
He said, “if you shine light on IFFs issues, people will get to talk about them, and we will be able to reduce it and improve our domestic revenue mobilization which always affects our development”.
Illicit financial flows IFFs are illegal movements of money or capital from one country to another. GFI classifies the movement as an illicit flow when funds are illegally earned, transferred and/ or utilized across an international border.