Public officials found to have misused or diverted petroleum funds will soon be prosecuted by the state.
Steve Manteaw, Chairman of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) said the decision was reached because his office does not have the legal capacity to enforce its recommendations.
“Pursuant to its mandate, PIAC has since 2011 made findings and recommendations in its annual and semi-annual reports highlighting among others instance of misapplication, misuse and diversion of petroleum funds allocated to projects,” he said.
“For us at PIAC shedding light on what appears to be criminal conduct on the part of some public officials with respect to the use petroleum revenues without holding such people to account, does not serve the accountability mandate that can be inferred in our name,” he said.
His comments come after the Committee signed an MoU with the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) seeking to combat crimes relating to the management of petroleum revenues in the country.
Over the years, experts in the petroleum sector have complained about the misappropriation of the country’s oil revenue.
Last year, PAIC noted that it was yet to receive any form of correspondence from the Finance Ministry explaining the whereabouts of the over ¢400 million unutilized oil revenue allocated to the annual budget funding amount in 2017.
Situations like these have been raised in the past but Dr Manteaw said lack of legal capacity to enforce recommendations has always been a challenge.
He said it is for this reason that PIAC and EOCO have come together to combat crimes relating to the management of petroleum revenues in the country.
At the signing of the MOU, Dr Manteaw noted that the agreement will help safeguard the sector from criminal abuse.
“We are from today beginning a transitional journey from transparency to accountability with a view to combating economic and organized crime relating to the management and use of petroleum revenues in the country,” he said.
PIAC stated that the agreement with EOCO will look at issues as far back as 2011, stressing all persons found guilty will be prosecuted by the Attorney General.
“It will start from 2011 when oil revenues started coming in. Crime has no status banner so, since oil revenue inception, all revenues that have been abused will have to be accounted for,” he stated.
On his part, the Executive Director of EOCO, K.K. Amoah stated that his office will work with work diligently to protect the public purse.
He said there are cases they are working already on and he is hopeful there will be many cases.