True to his words, the Auditor-General, is pursuing Senior Minister, to provide evidence of actual work done by private investigative firm; Kroll and Associates, which the government, through the Finance Ministry, paid the company over US$1 million for assets recovery.
Interestingly, The Herald’s findings show that they might not be a company called Kroll and Associates of UK. The closest company captured so far by the paper is one called “Kroll, a division of Duff & Phelps”, based in New York – America. It is clear from our search that, there is something fishy about the company, The Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo, engaged in 2017.
It is also not clear, whose assets the company was engaged to investigate and recover, but the contract to Kroll and Associates by Yaw Osafo-Maafo, just a month into the Akufo-Addo government in 2017, according to Daniel Yaw 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 American company, has a Managing Director, Steven Bock, who has specialties in Compliance Risk and Diligence, but there is also one Tom Everret-Heath, another Managing Director with expertise in Business Intelligence and Investigations who is based in London.
It is not clear, which of them the Senior Minister dealt with and how come the company became Kroll and Associates of UK, but Auditor-General ,insists there is no iota of evidence that some work was done by the said company with its address in Nexus Place, 25 Farringdon Street, London EC4A 4AB, which Mr Osafo-Maafo dealt with in February 2017.
Indeed, in a two-page letter addressed to “Hon. Yaw Osafo-Maafo the Senior Minister”, and intercepted by The Herald, Mr. Domelevo, said he had “entered into an agreement with M/S Kroll Associates of United Kingdom, on behalf of the Government of Ghana, for consultancy service on 26th September, 2017 with the effective date of 13th February, 2017 for the sum of Four Million, Eight Hundred and Sixty-Nine Thousand, Four Hundred and Twenty-One Ghana Cedis Eighty-Seven Pesewas (GH¢4,869,421.87) equivalent of USD1,031,460.50 without approval from Public Procurement Authority(PPA) and Parliament. It again emerged that full payment has been made to the above mentioned company as at 28th September, 2018 from and by the Ministry of Finance with no proof of work done nor is there any acceptance report to authenticate proof of work.
In the letter dated September 24, 2019 and titled “Notice of Intention to Disallow/Surcharge, the Auditor-General explained that M/S Kroll Associates U.K. Limited (Kroll) entered into the agreement with the Government of Ghana, represented by the Senior Minister, Hon. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, for consultancy service in respect of asset recovery and has as at 28th September, 2018 been fully paid the agreed sum of Four Million, Eight hundred and Sixty-Nine Thousand, Four Hundred and Twenty-One Ghana Cedis Eighty-Seven Pesewas (GH¢4,869,421.87) equivalent of USD1, 031,460.50. It however emerged that there is no proof of work for which full payment has been made to you”.
Mr Domelevo disclosed that “in my management letter dated 1st March, 2019, to the Ministry of Finance, I noted that, in other to ensure that the payment is properly authenticated, management of the Ministry should provide me with a copy of the report detailing the assets recovered and any acceptance report thereon, the subject of the alleged consultancy service rendered”, but that “request has till date not been honoured” by the Senior Minister.
In the regard, the Auditor General, has served notice on the Senior Minister “to explain why the said amount should not be disallowed and your good self-surcharged accordingly.”
He directed Mr Osafo-Maafo, to ensure that his “response should reach my office not later than 14 days upon receipt of this notice, adding “take further notice that, failure to respond to this notice within the period specified, I may exercise my power of disallowance and surcharge against you”.
The letter addressed to Mr Osafo-Maafo, was copied to an addressed captured as “M/S Kroll Associates U.K. Limited”. It is not clear, if they have responded to Mr Domelevo’s concerns by providing proof of work to justify the USD1, 031,460.50 paid out to them.
The government, through Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, disputed the claims of the A-G in his 2018 report, which revealed that the Finance Ministry, paid the amount to Kroll and Associates for the purpose of asset recovery, even though the task was not carried out.
At a press briefing on the matter, Mr Nkrumah, challenged the A-G’s claims and stated that prior to furnishing the audit team with a response, the report was already out there.
However, the A-G, said he gave the Ministry of Finance ample time to submit the necessary documents to defend the payment but to no avail.
He revealed that, he has notified the Senior Minister of the development and would soon take action against those involved.
“I have actually given them another opportunity. On the 24th of September, I wrote to the Senior Minister and some officials of the Ministry of Finance notifying them of my intention to disallow the expenditure and surcharge them. So, I have given the Senior Minister and the officials two weeks. I think one week is gone and it is left with one week. If they don’t bring the evidence [of work done], my certificate will arrive in front of the Senior Minister. I will surcharge him,” MrDomelovo said in a yet-to-be-aired interview with Blessed Sogah, host of State of the Nation on Class91.3FM.
Mr Domelevo, explained that after the Audit Service completed its work, the Ministry of Finance, failed to submit its response and comments within the 30-day period stipulated in the regulations governing the activities of the Audit Service.
“Our management letter, which went to the Ministry of Finance was dated March 1, 2019. So, 30 days should be when? Maximum 1st of April [but] we waited for the Ministry of Finance for the whole of April to pass, they didn’t respond. We waited till the whole of May…,” he stated.
He said, he called the Chief Director at the Ministry of Finance in June to notify him that he was going to issue his official report before doing so.
So, it was strange, Mr Domelevo said, for Mr Oppong Nkrumah, to accuse the Audit Service of not complying with laid-down procedures.
“Interestingly, after I finished issuing my report to Parliament and the report became public, I’m hearing that the Minister of Information is saying that if we had waited, they would have brought the evidence to Parliament. Where did he find that in the laws of Ghana?” Mr Domelevo questioned.
According to Mr Domelevo, even though Mr Nkrumah, has suggested that the Ministry of Finance, has the evidence of work done, “As we sit today, [Friday, 4 October 2019], I have still not received those evidence from the government…Maybe they have submitted it to another office [but] not my office”.