Business News of 2014-03-18

EOCO indicted for breaching financial administration laws

The Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) has been indicted for failing to account for over 1.4 million cedis of public money.

EOCO is also accused of irregular retention of an additional 2 million cedis belonging to individuals and institutions due to administrative lapses.

The revelations are contained in a 2010 audit report released by the Auditor General (AG).

In that same report, EOCO is found to have side-stepped procurement procedures in the award of some $50,000 contract to one Richard Helsby.

Joy News' Parliamentary correspondent, Elton John Brobbey, reported that the contract was in respect of an alleged tax evasion investigation involving SCANCOM Ghana limited.

The Auditor General noted in its report that the appropriate receipts for the contract were not produced to back the transaction as required by law.

The AG among other things directed the management of EOCO to refund part of the monies to the state, Brobbey reported.

Officials of EOCO have been hauled before the Parliament's Accounts Committee (PAC) to explain how these monies were expended.

However, unlike many other sittings of the PAC, the one with EOCO was held in-camera.

A member of the PAC, George Loh said EOCO is a major security stakeholder in the country and in the national interest, any sitting involving EOCO must be held in-camera.

He said given the kinds of information elicited from EOCO officials, it was appropriate for the meeting to be held in-camera.

It was not the first time a meeting of that nature was held in-camera, he noted, adding, even in some cases, meetings with the Bank of Ghana have been held in-camera.

He told Joy News' Evans Mensah on Top Story that PAC's meeting with EOCO officials was insightful.

According to him, the EOCO officials provided responses to all queries from the committee members.

He said as to whether the committee members were satisfied with the responses from the EOCO officials, was yet to be decided.

He said a formal report will be issued on the floor of Parliament and the information to which the public is entitled, will be provided.

Meanwhile, another MP and a financial lawyer, Alexander Afenyo Markins, has hinted he would be going to the Supreme Court to seek interpretation on the law that empowers EOCO to transfer monies from frozen accounts of companies, individuals or institutions into their own exhibit accounts.

Markins insists EOCO may be going beyond its powers by requesting and sometimes getting the court's powers to have such monies transferred into their accounts.

While he supports EOCO to fight money laundering, he said the procedures in enforcing money laundering laws must be done within the ambit of the law.

Source: myjoyonline.com
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