CID To Cage Asa B, Akoto Osei, Oboshie And Others

Former Minister under John Kufuor’s rule, Stephen Asamoah Boateng is set to face a new list of criminal charges arising from his tenure as head of that Ministry. This time, the former Member of Parliament for Mfantsiman West Constituency is to be dragged to court over what a senior government source called “wanton misuse and abuse of state funds during his tenure as Minister for Information. ” The charges against the former Minister are to be based on the findings contained in a special audit report titled, “Audit Report on the Financial Activities of the Ministry of Information for the Period 1 January 2007 – 31 December 2008. ” The report, dated 15 September, 2010, was signed by “Moses Bedi, Director of Audit/CGAD” Four others; Former Minister of State at the Finance Ministry, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei; former Deputy Minister of Finance, Prof. Gyan Baffour; former Information Minister, Oboshie Sai-Coffie, and former Deputy Information Minister, Frank Agyekum are also on the list of former top officials to be invited for questioning in the coming days. As of Monday September 26, a letter, signed by the Information Minister, John Tia Akologu, was on its way to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), inviting the intelligence arm of the Police Service to look at the damning Special Audit Report and take the necessary actions to bring the offending officials to justice. The source added: “We are asking the CID to consider the Audit Report on its own merit, conduct -- where necessary -- further investigations into the findings against the indicted officials and take the appropriate steps to bring them to book. ” It followed recent recommendations by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice that the Special Audit Report be referred to the Police Service for the appropriate action instead of Ghana’s Parliament. A copy of the Report, which is in the hands of The Globe read in part: “Our audit revealed that between March 2007 and mid-December 2008, the Government embarked on a Communication Strategy Programme to educate Ghanaians nationwide on its achievements. “Details of the Programme were not available to us. Consequently, we could not find any documentation detailing out its objectives, inputs, activities and deliverables although there was a budget of $8. 9Million for its implementation. The actual amount spent on the Programme was GH ₵ 5,999,562. 18. ..” The amount translates into nearly 60 billion old Ghana cedis. “Improperly accounted for payments totalling GH ₵ 539,640 were made to teams whose membership could not be identified and whose terms of engagement were also not known. We recommend that Hon Stephen Asamoah Boateng, Oboshie Sai-Coffie and Frank Agyekum should be held responsible for the payments made to them,” the Report, which was attached to John Tia’s letter to the CID, said on page 3. According to the report, the monies were paid to teams named by the report as “Media Executives, Editor’s Forum, Media Monitoring, Matters Arising, PRIM, BLOW, GRID, Rapid Response and First Responders.” The report added that “a total of GH ₵ 539,640 were not properly accounted for.” It read elsewhere: “The management of the Ministry failed to comply with the Public Procurement Act in the award of and payment for various contracts totalling GH ₵ 2,792,450. We recommend that the key officials who played various roles in the procurement process be appropriately dealt with in accordance with Section 92 of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663).” It added, “In cases where government had lost monies, the suppliers should be made to refund these monies.” Earlier in the Report, one of the key adverse findings read in part: “The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) wrongfully released a total of 6,000,000 from the Petroleum Debt Recovery, the Divestiture, the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) and the Highly Indebted Poor Country Initiative Fund accounts to the Ministry of Information and this amount was misapplied on a government Communication Strategy Programme.” The Report recommended that the two former Deputy Ministers – Dr Anthony Akoto Osei and Prof Gyan Baffour – and a former Director of Budget, Kwabena Agyei-Mensah “should be held responsible for authorising the releases from the four Accounts.” It added, “We also recommend that, in future, no payments should be made from the Petroleum Debt Recovery Fund as it contravenes the law which set the fund up. Similarly, no payments should be made from the three other funds without Parliamentary approval” The Report is also asking that Mrs. Oboshie Sai-Coffie be “sanctioned” for awarding contracts amounting to GH ₵ 407,500 to produce documentaries titled ‘Ghana Then and Now’ without recourse to the Public Procurement Act. The report mentioned the companies which won the contracts as Marks Publications, Farmhouse, Gladeb, Renaissance Media, Media Touch Productions, and Premier Productions Ltd. It said: “Most importantly there were no award letters. We found that they were awarded unilaterally...even though their values were above the threshold for the Head of Entity to award. The values of these contracts required use of the national competitive tendering method.” It continued: “We found that most of these media entities did not execute the contracts fully. We also found that no due diligence was carried out on the entities prior to their selection and award of the contracts....” The report also recommends that Mrs Sai-Coffie be sanctioned for the award of a contract valued at more than GH₵ 300,000 to Ghana Overseas Marketing Company Limited to brand busses and billboards as part of the ‘Ghana Then and Now’ agenda. “From the pictures submitted to the audit team, we concluded that four MMT and two STC buses were not branded. Similarly, ten billboards were not erected. The Company should produce evidence that it branded the rest of the busses during the period and mounted all the billboards or be made to refund 68,000...,” it said. “In the case of Excellent Printing, which printed the posters of Brong Ahafo Region and Ashanti Region, there is no justification for charging an additional GH ₵ 0.50 per poster for the 100,000 extra copies printed for the same region. This resulted in a loss of GH ₵ 50,000 to the Ministry. “Mr Kwabena Dankyira and Hon Stephen Asamoah Boateng should be held responsible for the award of the contract for the first batch of the 190,000 posters printed at a cost of GH 1,000,000 because due process was not followed.”