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Is Britain investigating suspected money laundering involving Ghanaian officials?

3 mins read

Claim: an audio recording circulating on social media has as content a claim that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in Britain is investigating a suspected money laundering case involving Ghanaian government officials who were arrested with a cash amount of 26 million pound sterling at the Heathrow Airport.

Insufficient evidence

Full Text

The claim has gone viral on social media and some online portals.

Below is a transcript of the audio recording:

The British Authorities at Heathrow have intercepted a cash amount of 26million pound sterling in suitcases flown into the country by private jet for the key government official in President Nana Akufo-Addo’s government on board the private jet.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) of Britain are currently investigating the suspected money laundering and have requested documents in respect of the money from Ghanaian government.

This is coming just within days when the Belgium European giant Bank – The ING Bank gave notice to the Ghana Embassy in Belgium – that all its accounts with the bank will be closed over money laundering and other fraudulent activities.

According to sources with the financial crime division of the investigative body and close to the ongoing investigation, it seems members of the government led by President Nana Akuffo-Addo are siphoning tax payers’ money into private foreign accounts ahead of the upcoming Ghanaian elections.

In a related development, the European Union has black listed Ghana over laundering and financial fraud issues.

Some social media users affiliated to the government discounted the claim, citing an online story on www.gov.uk as the source of the “fake claim.” The story reports of a Yorkshire woman who was arrested on October 3 and charged with money laundering after almost £2 million was seized at the Heathrow Airport.

The Ministry of Information has denied the involvement of any government official in any money laundering issue.

The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, accused the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of being behind the matter.

“No government official has been arrested in the UK. It is a total fabrication and we are clear in our minds that it is a fabrication by the NDC and it is part of their strategy for these last eight weeks where they will be churning out a lot of fabrication, lies and fake audio tapes,” the minister asserted in an interview on Takoradi based Sky Power FM.

The National Cyber Security Centre also issued a statement and described the audio in circulation as computer-generated.

“Forensic analysis by the National Cyber Security Centre reveals the audio was computer-generated using available technologies for fictitious audio-visual creation and manipulation. The Centre is working with the Police CID and other security agencies to identify the sources of this and other false materials being generated and bring them to book,” the statement read in part.

The European Union (EU), through its head of delegation to Ghana, Ambassador Diana Acconcia has also responded to the allegations of money laundering, indicating that there is no evidence of money laundering in Ghana.

The EU, in May 2020 blacklisted Ghana over money laundering issues, but Ambassador Acconcia said the action was because Ghana had failed to put checks in place to forestall money laundering.

Reacting to the ING bank’s directive to close the Ghana Embassy’s accounts in Belgium, she said the bank took a business decision and was not directed by the EU to do so.

 Verification

To verify the claim, Dubawa contacted the press office of the SFO in Britain to find out whether or not the claim made in the audio about the SFO investigation and the interception of the cash amount of £26 million was true.

In a reply to our request made via email, the SFO neither denied nor confirmed the claim.

“I’m afraid we can neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of this report,” the SFO wrote in the reply.

To further verify, Dubawa consulted flight results published by Flight Aware, a digital aviation company that operates flight tracking and data platforms.

A review of the schedule for days between 2nd and 12th October showed no results of any private flight leaving Ghana within the period.

Conclusion

Based on the inability of the SFO to confirm or deny the accuracy of the report, we conclude that there is insufficient evidence to pass a verdict on the claim.

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