Serious Fraud Office to Economic and Organised Crime Office
In 1993, the Government of Ghana by an Act of Parliament, Act 466 established the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) as a specialised investigative body. The SFO Act was among the first laws passed by the 4th Republican Parliament.
The establishment of SFO became necessary because the existing laws and institutions could not adequately detect, investigate and prosecute complex frauds and economic crimes. The Police alone could not handle such complex frauds and corruption.
The Serious Fraud Office as a specialised agency of government was established to monitor, investigate and on the authority of the Attorney-General prosecute an offence involving serious financial or economic loss to the state and to make provision for connected and incidental purposes.
The Serious Fraud Office as specialised multidisciplinary office existed to ensure accountability in the utilization and management of financial and economic resources so that maximum benefits are realised for the people of Ghana through:
The conduct of regular reliability checks of management practices applied by public institutions.
Effective economic crime prevention and public awareness programmes.
Investigation and prosecution of offenders without fear or favour.
The mandate of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) established by Act 466 did not extend to the investigation and prosecution of offences related to human trafficking, drug trafficking, money laundering, cybercrimes and other organised crimes. Under Act 466, persons convicted of any serious financial crime or fraud returned from prison to enjoy the proceeds of crime.
It became important to augment the law to take care of these lapses among others and to respond to the spate of sophisticated criminal activities emanating from advancement in technology and globalization as well as cross border movements. It became imperative to strengthen existing structures to help eradicate crime.
The Economic and Organised Crime Office Act, 2010 (Act 804) repealed the Serious Fraud Office Act, 1993 (Act, 466). Act 804 established the Economic and Organised Crime Office as a specialised agency to monitor and investigate economic and organised crimes and on the authority of the Attorney-General prosecute these offences to recover proceeds of crime and provide for related matters.
The EOCO ACT, 2010 (Act 804) gave extended powers/functions for the Office to deal with serious offences involving financial and economic loss to the Republic or any State entity or institution in which the State had financial interest. The extended powers also mandated the Office to deal with offences involving:
- Money Laundering
- Human and People Trafficking
- Prohibited cyber activities
- Tax fraud
- Participation in organised crime
- Terrorism and terrorism financing
- Sexual exploitation
- Illicit arms and trafficking
- Trafficking in stolen goods
- Illicit trafficking in narcotics
The new extended functions also includes recovery of proceeds of crime, monitoring of criminal activities, taking preventive measures against criminal activity, disseminating criminal information to appropriate authorities and the process towards the confiscation of property or assets of persons for any of the offences which are investigated by the Office which shall be deemed to have been acquired from serious crime.
Act 804 also gives the Office extensive powers to search, seize, freeze assets and confiscate proceeds of crime upon conviction.
Officers of the Office have the powers and immunity as conferred on a police officer in the performance of their duties in accordance with section 18 of the Act 804.