“The cyber domain has become the hub for criminal offences, and as technology impacts on the cyber domain and new trends emerge, it is key to build technological compliance to prosecute related cybercrime cases”.

The Ag. Director-General of the Cyber Security Authority (CSA), Dr. Antwi-Boasiako said this in a keynote address at the opening ceremony of a three-day workshop on Search, Seizure and Confiscation of Online Crime Proceeds, in Accra, from Monday, May 30 to June 1, 2022.

The event was facilitated by the Global Action on Cybercrime Extended (GLACY+) project, a joint initiative of the European Union and Council of Europe. The three (3) – day event consisted of discussions with practitioners in the criminal justice authorities to share knowledge, expertise and best practices for cybercrime and financial crime investigations and best practices in search and seizure of criminal proceeds including virtual assets.

Dr. Albert Antwi-Boasiako indicated that there is evidence of potential money laundering whenever a crime is committed. He also explained how the act of sextortion was associated with money laundering when he said that most perpetrators of the sex crime, extort money from their victims using mobile money platforms.

Informing participants of the role of the CSA in countering this menace, he indicated that, the Cybersecurity Act empowers the CSA to intercept phone conversations between suspects by the provisions under Section 73 of the Act. The interception capabilities of the CSA can therefore force a service provider to provide relevant information to a case. He added that the CSA has authorization to access data and non-compliance will warrant administrative penalties. He expressed to the event’s participants the CSA’s commitment to collaborate with law enforcement agencies, when necessary, in cryptocurrency and other online financial crime-related cases.

The Deputy Director-General of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), DCOP Frederick Agyei, in a welcome address on behalf of the Director-General of CID, said it is important that Law Enforcement Authorities recalibrate their skills in countering cybercrime and stop perpetrators from such crimes. He noted that large amounts of proceeds from money are stolen and laundered through the internet and Information Communication Technologies (ICTs). He highlighted that the internet inadvertently provides a safe platform for these activities, especially with the use of cryptocurrency which has come to make countering this menace more difficult.

A speech read on behalf of the Chief Executive of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), Mr. Kwaku Dua, informed the participants of how Ghana was subjected to a first strategic evaluation in 2009 on technical compliance. The evaluation led to the realization that financial institutions lack the ability to seize and confiscate criminal assets involved in money laundering cases. Ghana was thus blacklisted due to this deficiency. He added however that, in eight months, Ghana addressed all deficiencies and voluntarily underwent the second mutual evaluation in 2016.

He stated that the workshop came in a timely to share knowledge for the search and seizure which are characteristics of 80% of the cases at the FIC. His expectation for the workshop included the discovery of the new trends in money laundering and exposure to best practices in the search and seizure of proceeds of online crime. He expressed FIC’s gratitude to the Council of Europe for putting this workshop together.

The lead facilitator of the event, Mr. Kim Dong UK, in a brief remark indicated that the workshop was to seek the views of participants and to appreciate their knowledge in understanding current trends, modus operandi and case studies of collecting and laundering criminal proceeds and to share knowledge, expertise and best practices on cyber-financial investigation and international cooperation. and to make recommendations for the criminal justice authorities and financial intelligence units in Ghana.