Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, has finally opened up on the US$1 million contract he gave to a private firm, Kroll and Associates, in which the Auditor-General (A-G), Daniel Yaw Domelevo, has indicted him, saying no work was done to warrant the money paid.
But ahead of Mr Osafo-Maafo’s response to the Audit queries, The Herald picked up information that, the contract was a political witch-hunting job with the Akufo-Addo fishing for information on appointees of the John Mahama administration, including Dr. Stephen Opuni, ex-Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Cocoa Board.
Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, a former Finance Minister in the John Mills administration, according to The Herald’s insiders was also a subject of the Kroll investigation, which the A-G, has said brought out nothing to justify the payment.
Kroll and Associates, according to this newspaper’s information is owned by one William Asante, a regular visitor to the seat of government; The Flagstaff House.
They had visited many places, including traveling to London to meet a supposed informant who turned out to be an ex-worker of Dr. Dufuor, asking her about where Dr. Dufour and his sons sleep and eat anytime they visit London.
They wanted to know about the properties and other things, but got nothing of evidential value from the lady by name Elain Bannerman.
It is not clear, if Kroll met Dr. Duffour, Dr. Opuni and other personalities, whose assets and bank accounts were the subject of the investigations.
This paper’s information was that, Kroll was looking for landed properties and other assets owned by Dr. Opuni, but found nothing.
While in the case of Dr. Dufuor, Kroll was engaged by the Akufo-Addo government for and on behalf the Bank of Ghana (BOG), as part of its efforts to trace properties and other assets of owners of the collapsed commercial banks.
The A-G, had indicted the Ministry of Finance and the Senior Minister, accusing them of contracting Kroll Associates in 2017, to recover assets from identified wrongdoers; investigate allegations of wrongdoing among others, paid the company an amount of US$1 million (equivalent of GH¢4,890,000), yet there was no evidence of work done.
It is not clear, if the COCOBOD and BoG, also paid Kroll and Associate for the investigation done on their respective institution, aside what the A-G, has discovered was paid by the Finance Ministry.
The Auditor-General, had earlier indicated that the Senior Minister, would be surcharged, if he fails to provide evidence of actual work done by Kroll and Associates.
But Osafo-Maafo, in a letter addressed to the Auditor General, explained that the company actually worked and there was ample evidence of the work done by the firm to merit government’s payment.
The Senior Minister, also insisted that approval for the request for single-source procurement of professional services was obtained contrary to claims by the Auditor-General that they failed to seek approval from the Public Procurement Authority (PPA).
On the Auditor General’s position that the Senior Minister through the Finance Ministry, made full payment of more than GHS 1 million to Kroll and Associates with no proof of work done, Mr Osafo-Maafo, in his response said “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 serviceswith Kroll is ongoing and expected to continue for a period of four years”.
The letter to the Auditor General also claimed that “one of Kroll’s reports for work done was in respect of Lithovit agro-chemicals supplied by Seidu Agongo to COCOBOD for USD106,541,589.82 which is now the subject of a case in the High Court…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 agro-chemicals sales amounting to USD 106,541,589.82 which has turned out to be worthless.”
Mr Osafo-Maafo, in his response also stated that Kroll was still conducting investigations into several other cases for the Government of Ghana.
The firm is also assisting in assets recoveries and prosecution.
Interestingly, investigations into alleged wrongdoing raised by the Akufo-Addo government, were led by the EOCO, Police Criminal Investigations (CID) and the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) at separate times with some of the suspects interrogated by these bodies. No mention was made of Kroll until now.
The government, through Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, had earlier disputed the claims of the Auditor-General in his 2018 report, but the Auditor General, insisted that he had still not been provided with information to prove that the company actually did the work for which it was paid.
Auditors’ Report on payment for work not done by Kroll Associates The Auditor-General in its audit report stated that, “The Ministry procured the services of Kroll Associates in 2017 to recover assets from identified wrongdoers; investigate allegations of wrongdoing; provide evidence for assets recoveries; build capacity for the transfer of skills; advice on preventative techniques and structures to prevent and detect future corruption.
During our review of the contract with Kroll Associates, we noted that though there was no evidence of work done, the Ministry in 2018 paid an amount of US$1 million (equivalent of GH¢4,890,000) to the company. Our further review showed inconsistencies in some of the documentation. We noted for instance that though the contract was signed in September 2017, some of the invoices attached to the payment vouchers predated the award of the contract.
Management in response to this observation stated that they would make the records available to us later.
Considering the nature of the contract awarded, we are of the view that this project should have been executed for informed decision by government regarding how state resources have been used by public officers.
In view of the non-performance of Kroll Associates in executing the contract, we recommended that the contract be abrogated, and any monies paid to the company recovered immediately.”