Investigators looking into more than 50 new cases of corruption in Iraq that are related to the war ravaged country’s reconstruction have found stolen money lodged in accounts around the world including Ghana.
The New York Times reports that in the past six months investigators are scrutinizing large cash transactions made by Americans involved in the nearly $150 billion reconstruction programme.
The report says some of the cases involve people suspected of mailing tens of thousands of dollars to themselves from Iraq. They have also been found to stuff the money into bags and suitcases when leaving Iraq, and in other cases, millions of dollars were moved through wire transfares.
According to the report, some of the suspects used the money to buy BMWs, Humvees and expensive jewelry, or to pay off enormous casino debts.
Some suspects also tried to conceal foreign bank accounts in Ghana, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Britain, investigators said. In other cases, cash was simply found stacked in home safes, it said.
While Ghana was named as one of the countries where some of the stolen money has been lodged no specific details were given.
This development will certainly raise the temperature over the discussion on Ghana’s offshore sector.
A ghanabusinessnews.com report citing the Guardian said Ghana has been warned strongly to be ware of the risks of becoming a tax haven with the establishment of offshore banking in the country.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which issued the warning is asking the country to ensure that by becoming a tax haven, the country does not fuel corruption and crime in West Africa.
So far the Bank of Ghana has licensed Barclays Bank to operate offshore banking in the country.
By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi