This information is derived from the State Department's Office of Investment Affairs’ Investment Climate Statement. Any questions on the ICS can be directed to EB-ICS-DL@state.gov.
Last Published: 7/24/2017

Corruption in Ghana is comparatively less prevalent than in other countries in the region, but remains a problem. The government has a relatively strong anti-corruption legal framework in place, but faces challenges with enforcement. A few American firms have identified corruption as the main obstacle to foreign direct investment. Ghana's 2016 score and ranking on the Transparency International Global Corruption Perceptions Index dropped to 70 out of 176 (from 56 in 2015). Corruption in government institutions is pervasive. In 2016, there were a number of corruption allegations involving government officials. Shortly before the December 7 election, media and local civil society organization OccupyGhana reported the government awarded a contract worth 35 million cedis (approximately $9 million) to a business owned by controversial businessman Alfred Woyome. In 2014, Ghana’s Supreme Court ordered Woyome to pay back 51 million cedis (approximately $13 million) for unfulfilled public works contracts awarded by the government in 2010. In June 2016, media reported that then-President Mahama accepted an SUV worth approximately $60,000 as a “gift” from a businessman in Burkina-Faso bidding on three government contracts.

Commercial fraud in the form of scams is common in Ghana. Similar to the better-known Nigerian "419" scams, Ghana’s homegrown ‘Sakawa’ fraud typically originates through unsolicited email proposals. The most common fraud scams are procurement offers tied to alleged Ghanaian government or, more frequently, ECOWAS programs. U.S. companies frequently report being contacted by an unknown Ghanaian firm claiming to be an authorized agent of an official government procurement agency. Foreign firms that express an interest in being included in potential procurements are lured into paying a series of fees to have their companies registered or products qualified for sale in Ghana or the West Africa region. U.S. companies receiving offers from West Africa from unknown sources should use extreme caution and conduct significant due-diligence prior to pursuing these offers.

There have also been a number of commercially oriented scams whose sole aim is to fraudulently obtain U.S. visas. One particularly notable criminal enterprise involved a fake U.S. Embassy that operated in Accra for more than 10 years selling fake and stolen U.S. passports and visas to unsuspecting customers. American firms can request background checks on companies with whom they wish to do business by using the United States Commercial Service's International Company Profile (ICP). Requests for ICPs should be made through the nearest United States Export Assistance Center. For more information about the United States Commercial Service, visit www.export.gov/ghana.

Offering the sale of gold or gemstones at discount prices is also a common form of fraud in Ghana. Buyers of gold and diamonds are strongly advised to deal directly with the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) in Ghana. Gold and diamonds can be exported legally from Ghana only through the PMMC and prices are based solely on the London Exchange price on the day of export. No discounting or negotiation of prices prior to export by the PMMC is valid.

Bribery is common in the judicial system and across public services. Companies report that bribes are often exchanged in return for favorable judicial decisions. Large corruption cases are prosecuted, but proceedings are lengthy and convictions are slow. A 2015 undercover film by journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas captured video of judges and other judicial officials extorting bribes from litigants to manipulate the justice system. Thirty-four judges were implicated, and 25 were dismissed following the revelations, though to date none have been criminally prosecuted.

The Government of Ghana has taken steps to amend laws on public financial administration and public procurement. The public procurement law, passed in January 2004, seeks to harmonize the many public procurement guidelines used in the country and also to bring public procurement into conformity with WTO standards. The law aims to improve accountability, value for money, transparency and efficiency in the use of public resources. However, some civil society observers have criticized the law as inadequate. Notwithstanding the procurement law, companies cannot expect complete transparency in locally funded contracts. There continue to be allegations of corruption in the tender process and the government has in the past set aside international tender awards in the name of national interest.

The 1992 Constitution established the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). Among other things, the Commission is charged with investigating alleged and suspected corruption and the misappropriation of public funds by officials. The Commission is also authorized to take appropriate steps, including providing reports to the Attorney General and the Auditor-General in response to such investigations. The Commission has a mandate to investigate alleged offenders when there is sufficient evidence to initiate legal actions. The Commission, however, is under-resourced and largely ineffective, conducting few investigations leading to prosecutions. In November 2015, President Mahama fired the CHRAJ Commissioner after she was under investigated for misappropriating public funds.

In 1998, the Government of Ghana also established an anti-corruption institution, called the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), to investigate corrupt practices involving both private and public institutions. SFO’s name was changed to Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) in 2010 and its functions were expanded to include crimes such as money laundering and other organized crimes. EOCO is empowered to initiate prosecutions and to recover proceeds from criminal activities. The government passed a “Whistle Blower” law in July 2006, intended to encourage Ghanaian citizens to volunteer information on corrupt practices to appropriate government agencies. In December 2006, CHRAJ issued guidelines on conflict of interest to public sector workers. In December 2009, CHRAJ and the government issued a new Code of Conduct for Public Officers in Ghana with guidelines on conflicts of interest.

A National Anti-Corruption Action Plan was developed by the CHRAJ and approved by the Parliament in July 2014, but many of its provisions have not been implemented due to lack of resources.

President Akufo-Addo's administration has vowed to combat corruption and announced specific steps the government plans to undertake in 2017 to promote better transparency and accountability. These include: amending the 1960 Criminal Offenses Act to make corruption a felony; passing a Right to Information Bill to increase transparency; strengthening enforcement of Ghana’s Public Procurement Act to reduce sole-source contracts; and establishing an Office of Independent Prosecutor to pursue corruption cases (although questions remain about the office’s independence, the nominee - who has close personal and professional ties to the ruling party, and feasibility as creation of an office anywhere but under the control of the current Attorney General would require a constitutional change and a national referendum).

Like most other African countries, Ghana is not a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery.

Resources to Report Corruption

Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ)
Old Parliament House, High Street, Accra
Postal Address: Box AC 489, Accra
Phone: 0302- 662150/ 664267/ 664561/ 668839
Fax: 0302- 660020/ 668840/ 680396/ 673677
Email: info@chrajghana.com

Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO)
Tel +233 30 266 9995
Tel +233 30 266 7485
Tel +233 30 266 4786

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Ghana Economic Development and Investment Market Access