Akufo-Addo gov’t, catholic bishops & CSOs in corruption war

Daniel Domelovo2 Auditor General, Mr. Daniel Yaw Domelevo

Tue, 26 Nov 2019 Source: theheraldghana.com

Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Marfo, who has been surcharged by the Auditor General over his One Million Dollar contract to the Kroll Associates to trace assets of appointees of the Mahama administration, has sparked a war between the Akufo-Addo government, the Catholic Bishops and 20 Civil Society Organizations (CSO), having deployed the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to do his hatchet job, using an unknown petitioner.

The contract to Kroll Associates by Mr Osafo-Maafo, just a month into the Akufo-Addo government in 2017, according to Mr Domelevo, did not go through competitive tender process as required by the procurement laws of Ghana.

Additionally, the contract was not approved by the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), yet the huge sum was paid to the UK-based company and it has been discovered that the task was not executed.

The highest-ranked officer of Kroll Associates was paid US$750 an hour by the Akufo-Addo government.

The likes of Professor Henry Kwasi Prempeh, Executive Director of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) and the anti-Corruption campaigner and Former Director of the Ghana Integrity Initiative, Vitus Azeem, hold the view that Daniel Domelevo, is being pursued for fighting corruption.

While, the CDD boss stated that there was the “impression” and “perception” that the Auditor-General, is being “persecuted” for daring to fight corruption, Vitus Azeem, insists that the latest standoff between the Auditor-General and the EOCO, lends credence to the perception by some persons that Mr Domelevo is being hounded.

The Catholic Bishops were last week seen in photos praying for the Auditor General for God’s strength in carrying out his mandate.

The Senior Minister’s US$1 million vaguely defined contract to “Kroll Associates UK Limited to review electronic evidence, identify assets abroad and manage a joint Civil and Criminal Asset Recovery process”, through a Single Source Method, is turning out to be a massive raid on the public purse, with officials of the private firm paid hourly rates.

The Herald had sighted two separate documents from National Security Minister Albert Kan-Dapaah and the suspended Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PPA, Agyenim Boateng Agyei, saying the contract to Kroll Associates, was to last for twelve months, but another document by the Senior Minister contradicted them, saying the contract is rather for four years.

Interestingly, Mr Osafo-Maafo’s document creates a confusing situation with questions as to his duties and responsibilities in the Akufo-Addo government.

The Auditor-General, took issues with the contract and started seeking answers from the Ministry of Finance and the office of the Senior Minister, but midway in his work, Mr Domelevo, was accused of procurement breaches by the pro-government group, Alliance For Accountable Governance (AFAG) and was summoned by EOCO for questioning, arrested, charged and granted bailed.

But in Prof Prempeh’s view, even though “nobody is infallible”, “the kind of [situation where] every move he [A-G] makes, then somebody is trying to checkmate him definitely, does give the impression that he is being persecuted, which is not right,” he condemned during an interview with on Class 91.3FM’s Executive Breakfast Show last Tuesday.

Asked if Mr Domelevo is being targeted due to his strong stance against corruption, Prof Prempeh, answered: “That is the perception that people get and we in civil society are worried about that”.

“He [Mr. Domelevo] has exhibited, in many of the things that he has done, that he means business for the Republic; he is trying to get things moving. He has given the Auditor-General’s office a different kind of profile than it had in the past. The surcharges are a good thing,” he noted.

A private citizen, who is yet to be identified lodged a complaint with EOCO against the Auditor General, the Deputy Auditor-General (Finance and Administration) Mrs Roberta Assiamah-Appiah and the Audit Service Board, accusing them of circumventing the procurement laws in procuring some vehicles for the Audit Service.

The unknown petitioner holds the view that the Audit Service flouted the Procurement Law, Act 663, in the purchase of vehicles for the office of the A-G at a cost of approximately GHS6.2 million.

The petitioner, entreated EOCO to investigate the matter and determine whether due processes were followed and recommend appropriate sanctions in accordance with the Public Procurement Act, Act 663 if any procurement guideline was flouted.

However, in a letter dated November 18, 2019, Mr Domelovo, rejected the EOCO probe, stating that the investigative body does not have the mandate to investigate procurement breaches.

Mr Domelevo wrote a strongly worded letter to EOCO, urging the institution to immediately stop what he calls the unlawful investigations into allegations that himself and the Ghana Audit Service breached the law when some vehicles were procured in 2018.

“Your office does not have the jurisdiction to investigate corruption-related offences which has been defined in Act 959 to include breaches of the Public Procurement Act,” the letter said in part.

Reacting to the letter in an interview with the state-owned Daily Graphic, the Executive Director of EOCO, COP Frank Adu-Poku (Rtd) said Mr Domelevo, cannot place his own interpretation on the authority of EOCO and its operations, explaining: “That interpretation, if any, should be done by the courts”.

EOCO hit back at the Auditor General for saying that an ongoing investigation into alleged procurement breaches at the Audit Service, was unlawful.

Frank Adu-Poku, told state-owned Daily Graphic that he was disgusted by the views expressed by Mr Domelevo.

“Yes, I just received a copy of the letter. But if he [Auditor General] has any difficulty with our mandate, he cannot sit in the comfort of his office and proffer his own interpretation to suit his whims and caprices,” Mr Adu-Poku, was quoted by Daily Graphic last Tuesday.

The EOCO boss added: “That interpretation, if any, should be done by the courts,” he said, adding his outfit is preparing a fitting response to the contents of Auditor General’s letter.

Vitus Azeem in an interview, described the standoff between the two state agencies as unfortunate, as they both are supposed to be doing almost the same job which is fighting corruption.

“That makes people to think that there must be an ulterior motive in this whole affair. Because I’m a colleague you’re inviting me to come for you to ask questions and all of a sudden you said I have to get somebody to bail me meanwhile you’re just at the beginning of the investigation and you have not found anything that I’ve done wrong.

I think that there are two things, one, EOCO should quickly withdraw from it and render the apology and refer the matter to the Office of Special Prosecutor. Just say our attention has been drawn to the fact that we shouldn’t have started this investigation so please we are just referring it to you. But if EOCO insists then the Auditor-General will also evoke his right and the law that you have no right to do this and I’m not going to subject myself to this.”

Vitus Azeem urged EOCO to apologise to Mr Domelevo, for initiating investigations against him.

“I think that there are two things, one, EOCO should quickly withdraw from it and render the apology and refer the matter to the Office of Special Prosecutor. Just say our attention has been drawn to the fact that we shouldn’t have started this investigation so please we are just referring it to you. But if EOCO insists then the Auditor-General will also evoke his right and the law that you have no right to do this and I’m not going to subject myself to this,” he told Starr News last week.

The petition filed by a private citizen against the Auditor-General filed at EOCO accused him of corruption. The petition stated that the Audit Service had allegedly breached the Procurement Law, Act 663 in the procurement of vehicles worth almost GH¢6.2 million.

But in his defence, Mr Domelevo argued that he was not directly involved in the said procurement of cars and so cannot be held accountable.

“A careful reading of your enabling law, the Economic and Organised Crime Act, 2010 (Act 804) as amended by the Office of Special Prosecutor Act, 2017 (Act959) and from discussions with my lawyers, I am of the firm belief that your office does not have the mandate to investigate any breaches under the public procurement Act.

“In fact, I am advised that the relevant provision in Act 959 which amended Act 804 in section 80 and therein, your office’s mandate to investigate corruption and corruption-related offences, which has been defined to include procurement breaches has been taken away.

“Thus, this power your office purports to exercise now has been effectively taken away by the amendment contained in section 79 of Act 959. This clearly means that your office does not have the jurisdiction to investigate corruption-related offences which has been defined in Act 959 to include breaches of the Public Procurement Act.

“It is quite bizarre and unfathomable why your office would purport to be investigating procurement breaches. Mr. Domelevo added that his office will not cooperate with the EOCO if it continues with its unlawful investigations into procurement breaches.

Last week photos some Ghanaian Catholic Bishops laying their hands on the Auditor-General, got people talking.

Brother of the Auditor-General, Rev Brother Stephen Domelevo, a Catholic Reverend Brother, shared the photos on his Facebook page with the caption, “Praying for Mr Daniel Domelevo the Auditor-General.”

In the comments section, he writes, “I am praying for my Brother for his good work.”

Among the bishops seen praying for him in the photos is the Metropolitan Archbishop of Cape Coast, Rev Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle.

The post on Facebook received numerous comments some of which include, “[Uncle Daniel Domelevo] we know and the scripture also made it clear to us whenever we do the right thing in front of the enemy they stand against it.

The Good LORD have [seen] you through already no Matter the tribulations. With the hands stretched toward you by the Good Shepherds of the church you are a winner.”

The Auditor-General has been in the news for the past few months for what some say, are calculated attacks by some influential persons for his unwavering fight against public sector corruption.

Just last week also CSOs have thrown their weight behind Mr Domelevo, in the EOCO investigations into alleged public procurement infractions at the Audit Service.

A statement released by 20 CSOs, described the investigations as an attempt “to teach the Auditor General a lesson.”

“It is our considered view that at every turn of the matter, the purported procurement procedural challenge could have been cured but various state agencies decided to teach the Auditor-General a lesson,” the statement said.

The CSOs, whose leaders signed the statement declaring support for the Auditor-General, include the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), Ghana Centre for Democratic Governance (CDD-Ghana), Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), SEND-Ghana, Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Penplusbytes Financial Accountability and Transparency-Accra (FAT-Africa) IMANI-Ghana, and the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI).

Others are the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Centre for Local Governance Advocacy (CLGA), Citizens Movement Against Corruption (CMaC), Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF) ,ISODEC/CSO Oil and Gas Platform, Economic Governance Platform, Parliamentary News Africa, Africa Centre for International Law and Accountability (ACILA), Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and the Legal Resources Centre (LRC).

The CSOs, also said the PPA, had already cleared the Auditor-General of any wrongdoing and it was strange that EOCO, had taken up the case.

The statement, said even if any investigations ought to be conducted, it was within the remit of the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), adding “It is strange that EOCO is investigating this matter in the first place, after the PPA had established value for money, had not found any malfeasance or dissipation of public money.

“ In fact, this sorry and potentially damaging saga will further strain the already fractious relationship between investigative and prosecutorial bodies, undermining the collaboration and coordination needed to fight corruption in Ghana,” the statement stated.

With the Kroll Associate contract, one is lost with respect to whom namely; the National Security, the Attorney General or the Office of Senior Minister, has the power to order forensic investigations into suspected criminal conducts of members of the previous administration.

The PPA document and that of the National Security Minister confirmed that the over US$1 million contract was awarded to Kroll Associate, by the Senior Minister, long before he sought approval for it from the PPA, in the name of the National Security Secretariat.

As the Auditor General kept seeking answers, Mr Osafo-Maafo, insisted that the Kroll investigative reports were in his custody, and he has since invited the Auditor-General to come and see them, describing them as “privilege and confidential information and report which will be produced in the Court at the appropriate time” during criminal “prosecution”.

However, the most shocking revelation on the contract is captured by the document from the PPA, that Kroll Associates UK Limited, charged the Ghanaian taxpayer “hourly rates for its Consulting Staff for a period not exceeding twelve (12) months from the commencement of the assignments”.

The PPA document signed by Mr Agyei, confirmed the staff of Kroll Associates UK Limited, were literally given blank cheques by the Akufo-Addo government to cash US$750 an hour for its Senior Managing Director, US$695 an hour for its Managing Director, US$650 for its Practitioner/Principal and US$520 an hour for its Senior Director.

Other officials of Kroll Associates such as the Director, Associate Director, Senior Associate, Associate and Analysist, are cashing US$430, US$370, US$330, US$270 and US$140 respectively, an hourly rate.

Interestingly, aside their titled, the names of the Consulting Staff of Kroll Associates, were mentioned in the PPA document dated November 14, 2017, to help determine who they are and their expertise, especially so when the Auditor General, has insisted there was no evidence to prove the work Finance Minister; Ken Ofori-Atta, made payment for.

The PPA document titled “approval request for single-source procurement of professional services” was in response to another document dated November 7, 2017, from the Minister for National Security, who had also responded to another letter dated October 18, 2017.

The PPA document had said, “in consideration of the explanation provided in your response, management grants approval to the National Security Council Secretariat to use Single Source Method in accordance with Section 72 (5) of Act 663 (the Public Procurement Law) as amended”.

But the suspended PPA boss warned the National Security Minister “you are required to ensure that all documentation regarding the procurement is appropriately kept to facilitate future procurement and tax audits. The necessity for posting the contract awarded notice website is waived”.

Another interesting thing noticed was that, the PPA document, failed to mention the personalities the Kroll And Associates were investigating, although The Herald’s intelligence, has established that Dr. Stephen K. Opuni, ex-Chief Executive of COCOBOD and Dr. Kwabena Duffour, a former Minister of Finance under late President John Mills, were key targets.

Another document dated November 16, 2017, authored and signed by the National Security Minister, addressed to the Senior Minister, and Minister of Justice and Attorney-General; Gloria Akuffo, had notified the two ministers that the PPA had “granted approval for the National Security Council Secretariat to use Single Source Method to engage Kroll Associates UK Limited for a period not exceeding twelve (12) months”.

Responding to the Auditor-General that he led the government to pay Kroll Associates $1 million for no work done, Mr Osafo-Maafo’s letter dated October 8, 2019, sought to set the record straight on the matter involving the private firm.

He said, approval for request for single-source procurement of professional services was obtained, contrary to claims by the Auditor-General that he failed to seek approval from the PPA.

He failed, however, to mention that the approval was obtained many months after he got the company to start work, he also failed to mention in his document to the Auditor-General that the said approval was gotten through National Security and not Ministry of the Senior Minister, which had awarded the contract to Kroll in February 2017.

On the accusation that the Senior Minister through the Finance Ministry, made full payment of more than $1 million to Kroll and Associates with no proof of work done, Mr Osafo-Maafo, charged that “Proofs of work done by Kroll and Associates are contained in their respective reports submitted to the office of the Senior Minister, COCOBOD, Bank of Ghana and Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO).

The Consultancy services with Kroll [are] ongoing and expected to continue for a period of four years”.

The Senior Minister’s letter also revealed “one of Kroll’s reports for work done was in respect of LITHOvit agro-chemicals supplied by SeiduAgongo to COCOBOD for $106,541,589.82 which is now the subject of a case in the High Court (The Republic vs. Dr. Stephen K. Opuni. Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD and SeiduAgongo)”.

“The work done by Kroll, in this case, included Bank Analysis and Supplier Overview which disclosed that 90% of the revenue Seidu Agongo earned from COCOBOD was from agrochemicals sales amounting to $106,541,589.82 which has turned out to be worthless.”

Mr Osafo-Maafo’s response also said that “Kroll Associates are still conducting investigations into several other cases for the Government of Ghana.

They are considered as privileged and confidential information and reports which will be produced in the Court at the appropriate time. They are, however, available at the office of the Senior Minister for your inspection and or study”.

Under the heading “Assets Tracing (Identification of Asserts)”, Mr. Osafo-Maafo letter said “The work of Kroll Associates under the agreement include asserts tracing and assets searching – that is identification of assets held by relevant individuals and/or entities. Kroll Associates have done considerable work on this which will be produced in Court as evidence for prosecution and are therefore considered as privileged and confidential information and reports. They are, available at the office of the Senior Minister for your inspection”.

Another headline reading “Other Investigations in progress” the Senior Minister in his response said Kroll Associates are conducting investigations into cases to assist in assets recoveries and prosecution. These are, however, very confidential and classified security matters which cannot be disclosed at this stage. They will be available after the investigations for your inspection and study”.

One William Asante said to be a friend and business partner of the Senior Minister, is said to be the brain behind Kroll Associates, which appears different from Kroll, Duff & Phelps of America based in New York.

Source: theheraldghana.com
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