Zoomlion, Auditor-General clash in court
Zoomlion Ghana Limited has filed an appeal against the decision of the Auditor General to disallow and surcharge the private company over contracts it has executed for the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) through the Ministry of Health (MoH).
After auditing the accounts of the NHIA for the period 2007-2018, the Auditor General issued a disallowance and a surcharge against Zoomlion in the sum of GH¢184,901,650.
According to the Auditor General, Zoomlion was paid the amount between 2007 and 2018 without due process.
Not satisfied, Zoomlion went to the High Court to appeal against the decision of the Auditor General, claiming it had been denied the right to be heard before being surcharged.
The company attached numerous documents it claimed showed the existing contracts for the jobs done.
However, after perusing the documents, lawyers for the Audit Service made findings of fraud against the waste management company.
According to them, “Zoomlion intentionally added copies of activity reports and documents belonging to other contracts between the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and 10 allied companies of Zoomlion, including Meridian Waste Management Services, ABL Environmental Engineering Ltd and Volta Waste Management Ltd, among others.
“In the process, monthly reports of other contracts being executed by the appellant and its sister companies with other government agencies were intentionally added to the NAMCOP documents presented for payments and the amounts therein duly paid by NHIA as claims under NAMCOP.”
Moving the motion for appeal in court yesterday, lawyer for Zoomlion, Osafo Buabeng, said that the Auditor General breached the rule of natural justice when he went ahead to make adverse findings against the waste management company without giving it the opportunity to respond to the allegations.
According to him, there was a management letter issued by the Audit Service detailing the alleged infractions which was copied to the NHIA and the MoH but Zoomlion, being the affected company, was never given a copy.
Mr. Buabeng argued that the basis of the relationship between Zoomlion and MoH can be found in the contract executed between these two entities, adding that the contract was in respect of malaria control – mosquito spraying nationwide which was executed in August 2009 for four years and was renewable.
He admitted that “after the expiration of the contract, the parties maintained their contractual relations although expressly the contract was not renewed.”
The lawyer, however, contended that “by maintaining their respective contractual relationships both the Ministry of Health and the Zoomlion impliedly renewed the contract. The appellant continued to work pursuant to the contract and the Ministry of Health acting through the NHIA also continued to verify the work and paid the appellant up to 2018.”
Relying on a Supreme Court decision, Mr. Buabeng said that by virtue of the contractual relationship between the two entities, there existed a contract which was in force from August 2012 to August 2018.
The court, presided over by Justice Georgina Mensah Datsa, adjourned the matter to July 15 for the lawyer to conclude his argument.
Lawyers for the Audit Service would then respond on the same day.