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The Public Procurement Authority (PPA) has reportedly declined a request by the Auditor General (AG), Daniel Y. Domelevo, to use external solicitors to fight surcharging appeals in court.
According to the PPA, the Office of the AG is a public office and must use the internal legal department of the service to pursue surcharging cases in court as it has been doing over the years.
The PPA said in response to a request by the AG to use the single source method to engage legal services from outside the Audit Service that it cannot be granted, adding the internal legal department of the service is capable of handling the case.
DAILY GUIDE understands that the AG’s request to use external solicitors was in respect of the appeal filed by Senior Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo and four officials from the Ministry of Finance whom the AG is surcharging $1 million in the Kroll & Associates UK payments.
However, rejecting Mr. Domelevo’s request, the PPA said it took notice of the fact that recent surcharging appeals such as the ones which involved former NHIA boss Sylvester Mensah, as well as cases like Arch Adwo Company Limited and Joshob Construction Company Limited, were all done in court by lawyers from the legal department of the Audit Service and did not see why the AG wants external solicitors in the instant case.
“Lawyers from the legal department of the Audit Service represented your interests in all the above-mentioned appeals against disallowance and/or surcharge, the import which were substantially the same as the subject matter of the instant request for single-sourcing. In the interest of protecting the public purse, same may be relied upon by you if you are not desirous of availing yourself of the service of the Attorney General,” the PPA said on February 20, 2020 in a response to the AG.
The PPA also cited many decided cases from the Supreme Court, as well as Articles of the 1992 Constitution, to reject the request by Mr. Domelevo.
Not satisfied with the PPA’s decision, the AG wrote again to the authority, asking it to reconsider the decision and allow him to spend GH¢95,000 for the services of the external solicitor, Thaddeus Sory of Sory @ Law, who is already representing him in the appeal case involving Osafo-Maafo and others.
DAILY GUIDE learnt that apart from the GH¢95,000 to be spent as legal fees on the main appeal, the Domelevo contempt case is likely to cost the taxpayer about GH¢20,000.
The PPA wrote on February 27 to the AG, insisting that “you have not made any case to establish why, in the spirit of an efficient use of public funds, the board should grant your request for the engagement of an external solicitor for this case at a cost of GH¢95,000. As the body charged with the supervision of public procurement to secure a judicious and economic use of state resources, the board is unable to grant your request.”
Interestingly, it was the same AG who wrote to the Chief Justice to transfer the case from the Commercial Court to the Financial Court since, according to him, that is the forum where such surcharging cases are heard.
The chief justice obliged and the case was moved to the Financial Court as requested.
During the hearing contempt case against the AG last Friday, February 28, the judge after realizing that the in-house lawyers were the ones who have been doing the cases for the Audit Service, enquired from Mr. Sory representing Mr. Domelevo whether he has been appointed as the external solicitor for the service.
He responded that he was the external solicitor for the AG and the case proceeded.
Interestingly, as of 20th February, the PPA had rejected the AG’s request, that would see the state paying GH¢95,000 for the AG to have an external solicitor.
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