General News of Thu, 18 Oct 2007161
Attorney-General In Trouble?
... A-G Frustrates trial
... Playing hanky panky games
Accra, Oct. 18, GNA- A hearing of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Finance is to invite the Attorney General - Joe Ghartey - to answer questions on the status of a docket on two person alleged to have embezzled state money of 4.3 billion cedis.
Nicholas Sekyi, Accountant of the Kumasi office of the Department of Urban Roads and his deputy Joseph Appiah, who have since been arrested, were alleged to have falsified records and withdrawn the amount from the Atwima Rural Bank between 2002 and 2005.
However, the Committee's public hearing in Accra on Thursday said a reply to a query from the Auditor General's Department on the two persons said nothing had been heard on the case since the Attorney General's Department called for the docket in 2005.
A report of the Auditor General, on the Department of Urban Roads, said between January 2002 and August 200, 51 cheques written in favour of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for the payment of wihthholding tax deductions amounting 4.3 billion cedis were altered by the accountant, Mr Sakyi, to read either I R Samuel and Sons Limited, J R Samuel and Sons Limited or I R Service Limited.
Sekyi was alleged to have subsequently cashed and misappropriated the amount. "Our verification of the bank statements confirmed that the cheques were cashed in the name of the above companies.The defalcations were the result of falsification of record and forgery of the signature of the Regional Engineer by the Accountant... The Accountant and deputy have since been apprehended by the security agencies," but the Attorney General's Department requested for docket in 2005. The hearing also revealed that the Auditor General's Department detected a non-recovery mobilisation advances of 132.10 billion cedis by the Ghana Highway Authority as at the end of December 2005. Mobilisation advances are assistance provided to Ghanaian contractors to enable them to carry out works on behalf of Government, and recoveries of these advances made from contract payments. The committee was also was at a loss why the Ministry of Works and Housing and Water Resources should award six contracts totalling 7.056 billion cedis and paid mobilisation advance of 1.111 billion cedis without the necessary signed documents.
AG's office frustrates trial of fraudstersThe Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) is holding the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice responsible for the stalled prosecution of an official of the Department of Urban Roads in Kumasi who embezzled over GHC400,000 (C4 billion).
The amount was meant for the Internal Revenue Service.
The accusation was in contained a letter sent to the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament when the Ministry of Transport took its turn at the public hearing into the finances of subvented institutions on Thursday.
The BNI had been invited by the Committee to brief it on progress of investigations into the case. According to the Auditor General's Report, 51 cheques written in favour of the IRS for the payment of taxes were altered by the accountant, Nicholas Sakyi to read either J.R. Samuel and Sons Ltd. or I.R. Service Ltd and the amount was subsequently cashed and misappropriated by him.
Sakyi is said to have falsified the signature of the Regional Engineer to aid him in his criminal activity. The BNI letter which was read by the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee stated in part that just as the Bureau was about to prosecute Mr. Sakyi, the AG's Department wrote to them to withdraw the case and forward the docket on the case to the Department.
A portion of the BNI letter read by the Committee Chairman said "the two accused persons, Nicholas Sakyi and Joseph Kofi Yeboah were charged with the offences conspiracy and stealing among others and arraigned before an Accra Circuit Court upon an advice from the Attorney General's Department. Before the trial of the case could commence the same Attorney General's office requested that the case docket be returned to it for further action. On 15/12/2005 the case docket was forwarded to the Attorney General's Department as directed. Directives from the Attorney General's Department are being awaited for further action in respect of the prosecution."
While the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, himself a member of the Public Accounts Committee was absent from Thursday's hearing to explain what had occasioned the turn of events, members of the committee expressed disgust at the event and questioned how the entire nation could be denied justice in the matter.
Mr. Balado Manu, also a member, said others had been punished for less offences and wondered why no seriousness had been attached to the important matter.
"I thought anybody who was to handle this matter would attach the greatest seriousness to the matter, and up to 2007 with no action taken really leaves much to be desired. How much took the Sports Minister, Mallam Issah, to jail? $50,000 he went to jail and now C4.3 billion we are playing hanky panky games with it?