Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Monday January 29, 2018
The official report from the Attorney General’s Department in the matter of some top officials of the Electoral Commission (EC) accused of misappropriating GH¢480,177.87 of the staff Endowment Fund appears to indict the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).
The report appears to indicate that the investigations, which started sometime in July last year, were shoddily done.
As a result, the AG could not prefer a charge against any of the suspects in the matter and instead called for further probe into the matter.
The report clearly states in a 10-point opinion of the AG’s Department that “The investigations have failed to show what happened to staff contributions for the Endowment Fund for the period July to December 2013, to which contributions for March to October 2014 were applied.”
According to the report, the investigations did not address the amounts of GH¢480,177.87 and GH¢354,016.57, which were applied to the period July to December 2013.
It states, “EOCO’s investigations were restricted to the GH¢480,177.87 which was reportedly missing, although it is apparent from the docket that the matter goes beyond the investment for the period of March to October 2014,” adding, “The evidence shows that as at 1st March 2014, the opening balance of the main account for the Commission stood at GH¢131,499.82 out of which GH¢110,950.00 was transferred from the main account into the operational account.”
The report further maintained, “The evidence further showed that out of the transferred sum of GH¢110,950.00, GH¢86,730.00 was used on activities of the EC and this expenditure is covered by the necessary payment vouchers.
“There is also evidence from issued cheques that an amount of GH¢25,134,591.29 was spent out of the operational account. The supporting vouchers for this expenditure, however, have not been traced.”
The AG’s Department said, “In the light of the foregoing, we are unable to establish whether or not any money has been dishonestly appropriated. It is also difficult to determine the specific amount of money which is lost or remains unaccountable.”
In coming to this conclusion, the AG explained that “There has not been any proper audit of the Staff Endowment Fund,” adding that “A draft audit on the docket concluded that the sum of GH¢480,177.87 (the Endowment Fund contribution for the period of March to October 2014) was used for operational activities of the EC, although there is no evidence to that effect on the docket.
“We are of the view that until a comprehensive audit is conducted into the Endowment Fund of the staff of the EC, it would be difficult to firmly establish the commission of any malfeasance.”
The AG’s Department went ahead to recommend “a comprehensive independent forensic audit of the staff Endowment Fund of the commission to facilitate further investigations into the matter.”
Even in the EOCO’s own investigations, the focus was clearly not on the three top officials it ordered to proceed on leave following an official complaint from the EC chairperson, Mrs. Charlotte Osei.
Georgina Opoku-Amankwaah, Deputy Commissioner in-charge of Finance and Administration; Kwaku Owusu Agyei-Larbi, Chief Accountant and Dr Joseph Kwaku Asamoah, Finance Director, were hounded out of office by the EOCO and their continuous stay out of office is beginning to raise eyebrows since nothing was found against any of the three top officials per EOCO’s own work.
The docket EOCO prepared on the matter and sent to the AG’s Department for advice did not make the three officials suspects in the case.
In fact, in the eight-page document sighted by DAILY GUIDE, Mrs. Opoku Amankwaah and the two others were treated as witnesses by the EOCO.
The document, dated January 10, 2018, had specifically mentioned Samuel Yorke Aidoo, the then Director of Finance, as well as Ishmael Pensah, a former Chief Accountant, who no longer works with the EC, as the suspects who were investigated by the EOCO.
The title of the docket - ‘The Republic vrs Samuel Yorke Aidoo and Ishmael Pensah’- captures Mrs. Osei as the officer who had filed the complaint before the EOCO.
A source told DAILY GUIDE that the AG’s Department would not have hesitated in preferring a charge against any suspect if the EOCO investigators had been able to do a good job.
In the opinion of the government’s legal advisor, there should be a forensic audit to establish whether funds were indeed misappropriated or not.
EOCO spent about seven months investigating the case.