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  • Writer's pictureInternational Lawyers Project

Preventing Looting of Ghana’s Gold Reserves

Updated: Nov 27, 2023


Alarmed by the ruling party’s efforts to bypass parliamentary approval to sell 49% of the country’s entire gold reserves to an offshore, opaque shell company, with close links to the ruling party, ILP was asked by a coalition of Ghanaian NGOs to secure emergency legal advice to prevent the sale of the country’s gold reserves - and at a price far below market value.

A legal gold mine in Ghana shows some of the effects mining has on the landscape and environment. Illegal mines, which operate without environmental oversight, are often situated close to legal ones, and the water pools are more irregular or divert to small rivers.

Ghanaian officials have shut down illegal gold mines they identified using NASA satellite data and NASA-developed analysis tools. (Jordi Perdigó/Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data)


ILP’s Action

With the support of our loyal and passionate donors who provide core funding, ILP is able to flexibly respond to the legal needs of communities and social movements. In 2021 this enabled ILP to urgently respond to the attempted theft of public assets and prevent the democratic process from being undermined by corrupt political party financing and vote buying.



By alerting regulators and officials to the red flags, our campaign achieved a suspension of the sale while the UK regulators and a specially-appointed Ghanian special prosecutor conducted an investigation into the legality of the proposed sale. The Special Prosecutor’s investigation concluded that the sale was “an opaque bid-rigging exercise wrought with multiple violations of Ghana’s laws.” This helped to safeguard Ghana’s assets - the sale would have deprived citizens and future governments of the proceeds to pay for public spending.

Rapid action also prevented the UK’s stock exchange from being used as a vehicle for corruption. While the sale is suspended, ILP’s partners have lodged a legal application with the Court of Justice at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for a judicial determination on whether the government of Ghana violated the rights of its people.


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