Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Monday September 24, 2018
The $1.2 million kickback scandal that rocked the former Executive Director of the Ghana Standard Authority (GSA), Dr. George Ben-Crentsil, has resurfaced, with the case likely to end in court.
According to a forensic audit report, Dr. Ben-Crentsil was said to have allegedly collected $1.2 million from Lemet Construction Company; the firm that he awarded a contract to build a new training school and hostel facility for the GSA during the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration.
Apart from the alleged $1.2 million kickback, the government’s forensic audit report further indicted the former GSA boss for misappropriating GH¢1,655.019 and $523,697 and has recommended that he should be made to account for them.
The Head of Procurement at GSA, Delali Sabblah, was also cited for procurement irregularities at the cost of GH¢9,156,266.
In May last year, Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) reportedly commenced investigations into allegations levelled against Dr. Ben-Crenstil.
At the time, an investigative report indicated that former executive director received $1.2 million as kickback from a contractor of the state agency.
Lemet Construction Company was said to have worked on a new block of the Standards Authority Training School at a cost of over GH¢15 million.
The contractor did not state why he gave out the money but the report indicated Dr. Crentsil admitted receiving the cash when he appeared before a committee set up by then Minister of Trade and Industry, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah.
The money, according to the committee’s report, was paid in two installments by the contractor, the first being $1million and on another occasion, $200,000.
Part of the report read, “The executive director admitted taking money from the contractor but refused to state how much, stating it was a sensitive matter.”
In July 2012, GSA awarded the GH¢15.2 million contract to Lemet Construction Company to build a new training school and hostel facility for the Ghana Standards Authority in Accra.
Sources at the Authority say the contractor, Johnson Teye, failed to meet the deadline for completion of the project due to lack of funds and the board raised queries about the matter.
Mr Spio-Gabrah, then Trade Minister, ordered an investigation into the contract based on an anonymous letter from a management member of the Authority.
Spio later told the media that “after I received the first anonymous letter, I called the executive director of Ghana Standards Board and quizzed him on the complaints. But, when I received the second letter, I directed the board to investigate the matter. I, however, wasn’t able to take action because the report was submitted when I was leaving office.”
When Joy FM contacted Dr. Ben-Crentsil, he declined to comment.
The committee’s report revealed that the contractor provided materials and personnel to complete a three-bedroom storey building for Dr. Crentsil at East Legon, a suburb of Accra, but the ex-executive director denied that allegation.
He also denied ownership of a hospital at East Legon as revealed by the investigations.
The government sanctioned forensic audit was conducted by reputable international auditing firms into the affairs of those agencies and others where massive looting of state resources through procurements and deliberate stealing of money running into several billion Ghana cedis were detected.
According to the auditors, there were massive breaches of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) and the Public Procurement (Amendment) Act, 2016 (Act 914) and mentioned some of them as “inflation of contracts sums and non-performance of contracts. Others include non-enforcement and breach of contracts.”
The auditors also discovered “breach of the provision of the Financial Administration Regulation, 2004 (L.I. 1802), such as cash disbursement without authorization, deposit of public funds into personal accounts and failing to account for accountable travelling allowances.”
Sources said the revelations are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the corruption that characterized the previous Mahama administration.
The forensic audit report, which has cited Dr Ben Crenstil and former heads of six state-owned agencies, has since been submitted to the office of the Special Prosecutor, headed by former Attorney General Martin A.B.K. Amidu and the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO).
Apart from the GSA where the forensic audit was carried out, the other companies equally cited for alleged wrongdoing are Ghana Gas Company Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), Ghana Free Zones Board (GFZB), Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company (BOST), Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) and the Ghana Technology University College (GTUC).