Unverified asset declaration ineffective in addressing corruption – Prof Koranteng

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Corruption
Corruption

Professor Roger Oppong Koranteng, the Advisor and Head of Public Sector Governance at the Commonwealth Secretariat, United Kingdom, has said that without verification, asset declaration does not tackle corruption.

It was not enough to have supposed asset declarations from public officials kept locked without being opened, as it forfeits its purpose of checking corruption, as Prof. Koranteng, credited with the establishment of the Association of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Commonwealth Africa to promote inter-agency collaboration and learning through the sharing of experiences and best practices, stated.

He said this when he presented a paper at the Tema Ghana News Agency Regional Office progressive anti-corruption media platform: “Is the fight against corruption a mirage or reality”.

Speaking on the topic “Expanding the Frontiers of Combating Corruption in Ghana: Policy and Strategic Option,” he proposed that just as it happened in developed countries, the declaration of assets and liabilities by public officials before and after their tenure in office must be made compulsory and publicly verified as a major step in ensuring probity in public life.

He stressed that such a declaration must include the public officer’s outside activities, employment, investments, assets, and substantial gifts or benefits to be monitored.

Prof. Koranteng proposed that a lifestyle audit be initiated as a measure to curb corruption, as it would allow for the determination of whether the lifestyle of a public official commensurate with that person’s known income stream and identify possible corruption, fraud, and other related offences.

He suggested that there must be a beneficial ownership register that would cover the natural persons who ultimately own or control someone fronting for them, adding that it also involved a person on whose behalf a transaction was being conducted.

He added that it also included persons who exercised ultimate effective control over a person or arrangement, indicating that such anonymity enabled many illegal activities such as tax evasion, corruption, money laundering, and theft of assets to take place out of the view of law enforcement.

He said another strategy to fight corruption was to reverse the burden of proof in corruption court cases.

He said with this proposition, the burden of proof would be placed on the person pursued for corruption to prove his innocence, as according to him, even though corruption was done in hiding, its proof was seen in the property acquired by beneficiaries.

“If we can implement these strategies, corruption will be reduced drastically, like in Singapore, within a year. However, the question is, will there be a political and institutional will to implement these strategies? he questioned.

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