Free advice for Zoomlion's Head of Compliance

Mon, 5 Aug 2013 Source: Thompson, Kofi

By Kofi Thompson

Not too long ago, I listened to a gentleman who said he was in charge of compliance at Zoomlion, in a conversation with Peace FM's morning show host, Kwame. Sefa Kayi.

I was shocked by the complacency displayed by the gentleman - described by an acquaintance of mine who listened to him too, as "a smug beneficiary of crony-capitalism", who seemed oblivious of the fact that the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) scandal, is not something that anyone involved in - no matter how powerful and well-connected he or she might be today - can get away with permanently.

I could not help feeling sorry for Mr. Adjapong, who employs him - and pays him well: but who he is letting down terribly, in what without a shadow of doubt is a real crisis for the business.

That interview with Kwame Sefa Kayi was a mistake and a PR disaster. In case it escapes Zoomlion's head of compliance, there has been a sea-change in public attitudes about high-level corruption in Ghana.

An over-taxed people, who have come to the sudden realisation that their nation deserves better - as a result of the billions of cedis looted from the national treasury, in the create-loot-and-share monstrosity of fraudulently obtained judgement-debt payment court orders - are no longer prepared to allow trillions of cedis of taxpayers' money to be dissipated and frittered away, through the deliberate carelessness of those at the helm of affairs in Ghana, and the public officials who advise them.

Those in charge of compliance in private-sector entities in Ghana had better sit up. Jail awaits those of them who close their eyes to illegality in all forms, in the operations of the entities they advise, when those entities rip Mother Ghana off.

They must ensure that the companies they advise on compliance issues, do not engage in profiteering in public procurement contracts; do not bribe public officials to obtain unfair advantage over their competitors; do not engage in insider dealing and the use of insider information; do not evade taxes; etc., etc.

Alas, today, the only way private-sector entities and those responsible for their day-to-day running, as well as members of their supervisory boards, can avoid being fined or going to jail for failing in their fiduciary duties, in the Republic of Ghana, is to ensure that corporate good governance principles, underpin whatever they and the companies they are associated with do at all material times.

With respect, for Zoomlion's head of compliance to say, in defence of a company accused of defrauding the Republic of Ghana, that that company is owed even yet more of the allegedly fraudulently obtained money, by the very government it is accused of ripping-off, is pure nonsense on bamboo stilts.

What Zoomlion's compliance department ought to do, is to prepare for the day when it will have to justify - in detailed breakdowns - all the sums paid to subsidiaries of the holding company headed by the hard-working and brilliant Mr. Adjapong that stand accused of profiteering at Ghana's expense, and which are alleged to have fraudulently obtained money from GYEEDA.

Let those in charge of compliance at Zoomlion be guided by the wise old Ghanaian saying "No condition is permanent", as they prepare their defence against the allegations of fraud made against the Better Ghana Management Services Limited.

In today's political climate, the GYEEDA scandal is not something that even President Mahama can wriggle out, if it touches him in any way.

And neither can Mr. P. V. Obeng find a way out, for any of those implicated in that tsunami-of-a-scandal, in any attempted whitewash, in reviewing the GYEEDA committee's report.

For Zoomlion's smug and well-paid compliance department's head's information, the Local Enterprise and Skills Development Programme (LESDEP) will also come under scrutiny too, at some point, one day in the not too distant future.

One hopes he will not be complacent over that too, when that day comes - but will be well-prepared for it, instead. A word to the wise...

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi