The Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) has declared its intent to conduct lifestyle audits targeting celebrities and individuals suspected of amassing unjustifiable wealth, citing the need to address concerns over illicit enrichment. This decision comes in the wake of the recent guilty plea by Ghanaian social media influencer and musician, Mona Montrage, popularly known as Hajia4reall, in a $2 million romance scam case.
In an interview on JoyNews' Upfront, the Head of Administration and Investigations at EOCO, Edward Cudjoe, revealed that the organization is taking proactive steps to initiate lifestyle audits for individuals with unexplained wealth. Cudjoe stressed the desire to deviate from the existing law, which currently mandates individuals to be subjects of investigations before being questioned about the source of their wealth.
“We are leading the charge by ourselves, making certain proposals for the amendment of the law to align with international standards. This ensures that any gaps in your financial profile are substantiated by your earnings. Any disparities must be clarified to law enforcement, and the burden of proof rests on the individual to explain the origin of those resources,” he stated.
Former Auditor General, Daniel Domelevo, weighed in on the matter, cautioning that Ghana faces the risk of succumbing to the influence of drug dealers if lifestyle audits are not promptly initiated. Domelevo emphasized concerns about the adequacy of current systems, stating, “Our systems are not fit for purpose. The argument about invading someone's privacy needs to be considered in the context of national interest or our collective well-being. If not addressed promptly, we risk compromising individual rights for the greater good.”
The move by EOCO to proactively conduct lifestyle audits reflects a broader effort to curb illicit enrichment and uphold financial transparency in Ghana. The organization is advocating for legal amendments to align with international standards, aiming to ensure that individuals with unexplained wealth are held accountable and provide satisfactory explanations for the origins of their resources.