President John Dramani Mahama’s commitment to expose and punish corrupt practices rather than shelving it for political expediency like it happened in the past, is making some politicians, and civil servants very uncomfortable. The recent institutions to be hit are the Bulk Oil Distribution Companies (BDCs) and the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST).
A forensic audit into the activities of officials of BOST and their relationship with BDCs since 2006, has revealed very massive rot implicating both private and state actors in grand schemes, duping the country millions of United States Dollars.
Government sources, who have seen the damning forensic report said nearly US$30 million has gone into private pockets for a period spanning some years. The Herald, has listened to voices of some BDC officials confessing to dishing out monies to BOST officials from the watchman to the topmost officials at BOST to achieve a certain despicable objective.
One such voice is that of Mr. Senyo Hosi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors.
The report, prepared by Ernst and Young (E&Y), a renowned international accounting firm, exposes endemic corruption occasioned by collusion among senior BOST officials, some of whom, still hold sensitive positions at the various departments and dealing with officials of about 16 bulk distribution firms.
The revelation comes amid reports that the new Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah, recently wrote to some government institutions demanding of them to be committed to President John Mahama’s anti-corruption drive, which is a sharp departure from President John Kufuor’s approach to fighting corruption by sweeping it under the carpet, “else it collapses my government”.
It also comes on the heels of probes by state security agencies like the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI), leading to the retrieval of over GHC30 million from corrupt officials in-charge of the National Service Scheme (NSS), the criminal trial of officials of the Ghana Youth Entrepreneurial and Development Agency (GYEEDA), Brazil 2014 Presidential Enquiry, the Subah Infosolution’s contract with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) case, involving some government employees.
The forensic report noted how top officials at BOST, supported the BDCs to rob BOST of petroleum products at various depots, leading to significant petroleum product losses that affected the national strategic reserve of petroleum products.
It revealed some officers of the BDCs, connived with officials of BOST through bribery and forged documents to inflate the volumes of products in favour of the BDCs. This allowed the BDCs to lift petroleum products, which did not belong to them from the BOST system. That practice, according to the E&Y report, led to “overdrawn balances” at the expense of the poor taxpayers.
Additionally, the report noted that BOST, was not paid for that stock, occasioning a financial loss to the company. It thus created a negative balance or BOST indebtedness to the BDCs.
The BDCs, have in recent past staged a protest demanding billions of cedis they claimed are owed them by government; this led to shortages of petroleum products in the country. But the forensic report is suggesting the monies were not to have been paid.
This is because, the audit findings shockingly revealed that upon a careful and meticulous assessment of the process, most of the key BDCs were rather, in fact, indebted to BOST to the tune of millions of litres of petroleum products, which analysts project to be in excess of tens of millions of dollars.
Those acts have led to heavy financial loss to BOST and, by extension the State. Following this report, The Herald’s investigation showed that efforts by the Managing Director (MD), Kingsley Kwame Awuah-Darko, to restructure the BOST, is being thwarted by workers, some of whom are calling for his sack.
But The Herald is informed that some senior staff of the company are in support of his initiative and have urged him to go ahead and bring sanity to the company.
Meanwhile, as part of the anti-corruption war, Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah, according to Flagstaff House sources, has been directed by President Mahama to write to all state institutions, especially their heads to assist any effort to rid the system of corruption.
Though the president’s decision in some quarters may be seen as laudable, others are also not comfortable, questioning whether it was proper for him to investigate, expose and prosecute corruption in his government, especially so when President John Kufuor, had during his presidency counseled that exposing corrupt acts in one’s government could collapse it.
Taking into consideration the opposition New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) rants of corruption in the Mahama government even without evidence, those who argue the inappropriateness of the president’s decision say, allowing corruption to come to the fore, will go to buttress the point by the opposition that indeed, there is high level of crime being perpetuated by government appointees.
But there are others who agree with President Mahama, saying he should go ahead to investigate, expose and prosecute every suspicion of corruption to serve as a deterrent as posterity will be the best judge.
To them this will end the pandemic. They condemned the Kufuor approach of sweeping it under the carpet. More to come!