Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Tuesday January 24, 2018
It has emerged that the three top officers accused of misappropriating GH¢480,177.87 of the Endowment Fund of staff of Electoral Commission (EC) have been cleared by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).
Georgina Opoku-Amankwaah, Deputy Commissioner in-charge of Finance and Administration; Kwaku Owusu Agyei-Larbi, Chief Accountant and Joseph Kwaku Asamoah, Finance Officer, were hounded out of office by the EOCO on the instructions of the EC chairperson, Charlotte Osei, over the alleged malfeasance, and their continuous absence from office is beginning to raise eyebrows since nothing was found against any of them.
Recently, Ms Opoku-Amankwaah, frustrated by alleged manipulation of the EOCO investigation, defied the ‘stay at home’ order and returned to work only for the anti-graft body to chase her out.
She said she was tired of the embarrassment being visited on her by her continued interdiction and decided to resume work, saying that under the law, it is only the President of the Republic who can send her packing.
However, the EOCO officers said they were still investigating the alleged misappropriation of the EC’s Endowment Funds, even though at that time the investigation was said to be over.
In July last year, Ms. Opoku-Amankwaah, Mr Kwaku Owusu Agyei-Larbi and Dr Joseph Asamoah were asked to proceed on leave over a reported missing GH¢480,000 from the Fund, after Ms Charlotte Osei had asked EOCO to investigate the matter.
Even though no adverse findings were made against them, the EC chairperson was said to be manipulating the EOCO.
Ms Osei is said to have indicated that she was not ready to work with any of her deputies, as well as the finance director.
Interestingly, she, together with her two deputies - Georgina Opoku Amankwaah and Alhaji Amadu Sulley, in-charge of Operations - are being investigated by a five-member committee set up by the Chief Justice, following petitions filed against them on allegations of abuse of office and conflict of interest under Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution.
Even despite the damning allegations, which are being probed, the EC boss is still at post.
DAILY GUIDE has sighted an official report from the Attorney General’s Department indicating that the affected officers might not have anything to do with the alleged malfeasance and that it is rather two others who could be charged, if there was any action to be taken in the matter.
The report, dated January 10, 2018, indicates that the focus of the EOCO investigation was on Samuel Yorke Aidoo, the then Director of Finance, as well as Ishmael Pensah, a former Chief Accountant, who no longer works with the EC.
In fact, the title of the docket, which reads, ‘The Republic vrs Samuel Yorke Aidoo and Ishmael Pensah,’ shows that the affected officers were mere witnesses in the whole matter and Mrs. Osei is captured as the officer who had filed the complaint before the EOCO.
The said report to the EOCO, signed by Evelyn D. Keelson, a Chief State Attorney, on behalf of the AG, concludes, “We are of the view that until a comprehensive audit is conducted into the Endowment Fund of the staff of the Electoral Commission, it will be difficult to firmly establish the commission of any malfeasance.”
According to the report, Charlotte Osei, Georgina Opoku-Amankwaah, Kwaku Owusu Agyei-Larbi, Joseph Kwaku Asamoah, Samuel Yorke Aidoo and Ishmael Pensah gave statements to the EOCO in the matter and it came to light that the GH¢480,177.87 was to be transferred into an Investment Fund Account at NDK Financial Services from the period of March to October 2014 from the Controller and Accountant General’s Department.
“The amount of GH¢480,177.87 was, however, never transferred into the Investment Fund Account at NDK for the required period of March to October 2014,” it maintained.
According to the report, out of the GH¢480,177.87, only GH¢354,016.57 was transferred into the NDK account to cover arrears of investment from July to December 2013, instead of the intended period of March to October 2014, adding, “contributions received from the Controller and Accountant General’s Department for the period July to December 2013, therefore remain outstanding.”
The report said that investigations failed to show what happened to the EC staff contributions for the period July to December 2013, to which contributions for March to October 2014 were applied.
According to the report, Mr. Yorke Aiddo had said in a statement that the money was used for operational activities at the EC when the commission was cash-strapped and the then EC chairman, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan and Mrs. Opoku Amankwaah were aware of the situation.
It further said investigations did not address what happened to the GH¢126,161.3, being the difference between GH¢480,177.87 and GH¢354,016.57 applied in July to December 2013, adding that the EOCO investigations were restricted to GH¢480,177.87.
“The evidence shows that as at March 1, 2014, the opening balance of the main account of 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 said that out of the transferred amount of GH¢110,950.00, only GH¢86,730.00 was used on activities of the commission and the expenditure was covered by payment vouchers.
“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,” the AG report said, adding, “This is because there has not been any proper audit of the Staff Endowment Fund.”
The AG said a draft audit report on the docket concluded that GH¢480,177.87 was used for operational activities of the commission but there was no evidence to that effect on the docket.