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EOCO disowns MASLOC boss

Thu, 28 Nov 2019 Source: The Herald

The Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), has disowned the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), Stephen Amoah, over his payment of GH¢ 1.1 million for a forensic audit on an alleged GH¢ 2.2 million financial impropriety occasioned by his predecessor, SedinaTamakloe-Attionu.

EOCO, has strongly rejected his claim on radio that it authorized him to take GH¢1.1 million from the coffers of MASLOC, he was rather told to negotiate with the audit firm; Baffour Awuah& Associate, but was not authorized to pay the colossal amount to the private company without tender.

The management of EOCO is said to be very unhappy with the MASLOC boss’ claim and wants him to own up to his decision to pay the shocking amount, and spare them any blame.

Mr Amoah, who was a key witness in the ongoing case against his predecessor, Sedina Tamakloe Attionu, during cross-examination, told an Accra High Court, last week that his outfit paid GH¢1,114,000 to Baffour Awuah & Associates on EOCO’s request.

He revealed that transaction did not go through tender per the procurement laws of the country, because he was authorised by EOCO to deal with Baffour Awuah& Associates, a very well-known audit firm whose business thrives anytime the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is in power.

The company, indeed, has its reports always on the subjects of criminal prosecution against officials of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Under ex-President John Kufuor, Baffour Awuah & Associates was used to indict most of Jerry Rawlings’ appointees under the name of the Ghana Audit Service and National Security Council led by Edward Dua-Agyeman and Francis Poku, respectively.

Speaking in an interview on Adom FM’s morning show Dwaso Nsem on Monday, Mr Amoah, confirmed to Captain Smart, the host that the said amount was indeed paid to the auditing firm, and he has a letter written to him by EOCO, authorizing the transaction between MASLOC and Baffour Awuah & Associates.

According to him, the amount was not only meant to pursue the case involving Mrs.Tamakloe-Attionu but also, three other cases of financial impropriety of which one involved the cost of some vehicles at GH¢ 62 million, adding the cost of the vehicles, was factored into the payment to Baffour Awuah & Associates.

“It is not true we spent GH¢ 1.1 million cedis to audit a GH¢ 2.2 million financial impropriety case against SedinaTamakloe-Attionu, the money she is being audited for by the forensic auditors is over GH¢62 million,” he said and sought to justify the payment, saying the charges were even moderate per the scope of work performed by Baffour Awuah & Associates, including several trips outside Accra.

He said, the amount paid to the auditing firm for its service was around 1.8 percent of the total amount being audited for; an amount he claimed was less than the usual amount charged by most auditing firms.

He, did this, because to the best of his knowledge, EOCO, has the powers of a High Court and hence he took its instruction very seriously and acted accordingly, saying he did nothing fraudulent and did not benefit even a dine from the transaction.

Asked why he did not use the Audit Service, Mr Amoah, insisted he only acted on the orders of EOCO authorising him to use Baffour Awuah & Associates.

To him, spending less than 2percent on the audit, was a very wise decision in the fight against corruption, adding MASLOC, was not the only organization which paid for such transaction on the instruction of EOCO, insisting on documents authorizing him to do this.

Through the interview, Mr Amoah justified the payment to Baffour Awuah& Associates, saying they travelled extensively across the country to even determine whether or not a GHC2 million taken out of the coffers of MASLOC to provide sensitization workshop on the activities of MASLOC was indeed, carried out by the leadership of MASLOC as claimed.

He threatened several times during the interview to release documents showing the monies squandered by the previous MASLOC, hence the criminal trial, but he will release the documents upon consultation with the court to avoid being in contempt.

Mr Amoah, many times accused the opposition NDC of trying to divert attention from the case using propaganda and diversionary tactics, insisting that the case of Sedina Tamakloe and the others is a dirty case, and has the relevant documents to prove this.

Mrs SedinaTamakloe-Attionu, onetime boss of MASLOC, is facing trial for alleged widespread acts of corruption, inflation of prices of projects, misappropriation of several millions of cedis and causing financial loss to the State.

She has, however, denied the allegations leveled against her.

In court, last week, Lawyer Agbes Dzakpasu, pointed out to the MASLOC CEO that the audit firm in question was not engaged through the proper procurement processes, but the MASLOC boss, stuck to this defence, even after admitting that the invoices for the payment were issued in the name of his outfit and not EOCO.

Lawyer Dzakpasu, who is representing Mrs. Tamakloe Attionu, had produced the invoices covering the payment of GH¢1,114,000 to Baffour Awuah & Associates and suggested that the invoice bore MASLOC’s name because the center engaged the firm, contrary to the claim that it was EOCO’s decision.

The MASLOC Boss admitted that the firm would only issue the invoices to a client, but insisted EOCO, made the decision to contract Baffour Awuah & Associates.

According to him, the audit firm was basically handed them by EOCO, which was investigating the allegations against his predecessor, and his outfit’s role was to facilitate their work and pay them.

The MASLOC CEO admitted that his outfit did not follow proper procurement procedures in recruiting the audit firm.

When questioned on whether he should be held accountable for any procurement breach in engaging the firm, Steven Amoah, gave a “Yes/No” answer that left everyone in the court confused.

Lawyer Dzakpasu also questioned the purpose for the recruitment of the audit firm at such cost to investigate whether the former MASLOC CEO’s administration actually oversaw the expenditure of 2 million cedis on sensitization.

According to the lawyer, it was already on record that Obaantapa Microfinance, had not paid the GH¢500,000 loan, whiles the expenditure of GH¢93,412 on the PINCO project was also already captured in MASLOC’s books.

He also questioned, what the audit firm was supposed to establish by auditing the contract for the supply of 350 vehicles when no monies had been advanced by Mrs. Tamakloe Attionu’s administration.

Steven Amoah in defence of the work of the audit firm, said Baffour Awuah & associates, was brought on board to verify what he said were preliminary issues, whiles conducting a value for money audit on the contract to procure the vehicles even though he admitted no monies had been paid in the case of the vehicles.

Mrs. Tamakloe Attionu is facing trial alongside former Operations Manager of MASLOC, Daniel Axim, for allegedly causing financial loss to the state.

The two have been charged with 80 counts of stealing, willfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, conspiracy, contravention of the public procurement act, among other charges.

At the trial, the claim by Mr Amoah that SedinaTamakloe, inflated contracts to procure vehicles for the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) by 22million cedis, was exposed as unsubstantiated and untrue.

The case is before the Financial and Tax Court Presided over by Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe.

Source: The Herald

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