Stay within your lane – Supreme Court Justices caution EOCO
These statements of caution were given by the Justices in a civil motion involving Malik Ibrahim who is seeking a writ of Certiorari against the High Court, (Financial and Economic Crime Division)
Justices of the Supreme Court on July 11, 2023, cautioned the Economic and Organised Crime Office(EOCO) to stay within the remit of its powers in the discharge of its functions.
According to their Lordships, a state Institution like EOCO should not be seen as ‘fighting private fights’ which falls within the remit of the Ghana Police Service.
These statements of caution were given by the Justices in a civil motion involving Malik Ibrahim who is seeking a writ of certiorari against the High Court, (Financial and Economic Crime Division).
Per the facts of the case gathered by DL news, the applicant allegedly stole money from his brother and invested the same in moveable and Immoveable property.
The case was then reported to EOCO which in the process of dealing with the matter, secured an ex-parte order at the High Court to freeze the account of the applicant thus leading to his invocation of the supervisory jurisdiction of the apex court.
Also, this case has another aspect that involves some suspects linked to this event, who were arrested, somehow bolting with portions of the said amount of money
One issue that raised great debate and disagreement was whether such an instance of theft falls under the offense of money laundering as captured by EOCO.
The Interested party, EOCO, insisted that per the Anti Money Laundering Act, once the source of the act is illicit, then it falls under money laundering.
This position somehow put their Lordships into bewilderment, thus taking turns to query further on the elements of the offense of money laundering.
One Justice especially asked, ‘If someone steals his brother’s money, is it money laundering?”
Another said, “If I steal a calf and keep it in my house, does it amount to money laundering?’
Again, another Justice wanted to know, ‘If armed robbers steal things and sell, is it money laundering?”
In all, their Lordships were concerned about the use of EOCO’s powers to investigate and deal with private cases because, to them, this would seriously be to the disadvantage of the poor.
The case has meanwhile been adjourned to July 27, 2023, for the ruling.
The panel was presided over by Justice Pwamang and consisted of Tanko JSC, Lovelace JSC, Mensa-Bonsu JSC, and Koomson JSC.