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Corruption in Ghana has been common since independence. Since 2006, Ghana's score and ranking on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index has improved slightly, ranked higher than Italy and Brazil. However, there is a growing perception in Ghana that government-related corruption is on the rise., ranked 64th in 2012, tied with Lesotho. Even though corruption in Ghana is relatively low when compared to other countries in Africa, businesses frequently quote corruption as an obstacle for doing business in the country. Corruption occurs often in locally funded contracts, companies are subject to bribes when operating in rural areas.
In a 1975 book, Victor T. Le Vine wrote that bribery, theft and embezzlement arose from reversion to a traditional winner-takes-all attitude in which power and family relationships prevailed over the rule of law. Corruption in Ghana is comparatively less prevalent than in other countries in the region.
Ghana is not a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery. It has, however, 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 World Trade Organization standards. The new law aims to improve accountability, value for money, transparency and efficiency in the use of public resources.
However, some in civil society have criticized the law as inadequate. The government, in conjunction with civil society representatives, is drafting a Freedom of Information bill, which will allow greater access to public information. Notwithstanding the new 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.
Businesses report being asked for "favors" from contacts in Ghana, in return for facilitating business transactions. The Government of Ghana has publicly committed to ensuring that government officials do not use their positions to enrich themselves. Official salaries, however, are modest, especially for low-level government employees, and such employees have been known to ask for a "dash" (tip) in return for assisting with license and permit applications.
The 1992 Constitution provided for the establishment of a Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). Among other things, the Commission is charged with investigating all instances of 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 prosecute alleged offenders when there is sufficient evidence to initiate legal actions. The Commission, however, is under-resourced and few prosecutions have been made since its inception.
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. A law to revise the SFO law is being drafted and it is expected to define more clearly treatment of the proceeds from criminal activities. The government also announced plans to streamline the roles of the CHRAJ and SFO, in order to remove duplication of efforts. 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. As of February 2009, a Freedom of Information bill was still pending in Parliament.
On 7 February 2012, it was reported that four prominent supporters of Ghana’s ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) had been arrested and charged with corruption in an Accra court. Alfred Agbesi Woyome was charged with crimes including corrupting public officials over a multi-million dollar payment that a government inquiry alleged he had claimed illegally. Chief attorney Samuel Nerquaye-Tetteh, his wife and the finance ministry's legal director were also charged with aiding and abetting a crime.