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EOCO PROBES TOP EC OFFICIALS - Over GHC480, 000 embezzlement

General News

An alleged misappropriation of over GHC480, 000.00 from the Staff Endowment Fund of the Electoral Commission has attracted the attention of the Economic and Organized Crime Office, which is currently investigating three top officials of the commission for their roles in the financial inpropriety.

An alleged misappropriation of over GHC480, 000.00 from the Staff Endowment Fund of the Electoral Commission has attracted the attention of the Economic and Organized Crime Office, which is currently investigating three top officials of the commission for their roles in the financial inpropriety.

 

The three suspects, who have been asked to proceed on leave, are Georgina Opoku-Amankwaa, Deputy Chairperson in charge of Finance & Administration; Kwaku Owusu Agyei-Larbi, Chief Accountant; and Joseph Kwaku Asamoah, Finance Officer.

Chairperson of the EC, Charlotte Osei, asked the three to proceed on leave upon a request by the EOCO.

A letter signed by the EC boss, dated July 5, 2017, and addressed to Georgina Opoku-Amankwaa, reads in part: “As you are aware, the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) is investigating the loss of about GHC480, 000.00 from the Staff Endowment Fund. Pursuant to the said investigation, EOCO has requested that I direct you to proceed on leave while the investigation proceeds.


The letter further directs: “During the period of your leave, please be advised that you are not to undertake any business on behalf of the commission or access any information from the Commission until investigations are concluded.”

The EOCO probe follows an audit report on the Fund that uncovered that workers’ deductions from March to October 2014 were not released by the Commission to the Fund Managers.

“This denied existing members and also retirees of interest on funds if it had been invested for the period stated. Additionally, those on retirements received their benefit excluding the interest on the un-invested funds and this left gaps in the computation of individual staff members contribution,” the audit report explained.

The audit report has recommended that the Commission should pay the deductions covering the period in question, plus any outstanding interest payments accruing on their investments, to the Fund.

The Endowment Fund was started in 2008, with five percent monthly deductions from the basic salaries of the EC staff but was subsequently raised to 10 percent in 2015.

An Endowment Committee was supposed to receive the monthly deductions from the cash office of the Commission for onward submission to NDK Financial Services for investment purposes.

Of particular concern to the audit team was why monthly cheques that ought to be issued to the Fund were released very late and in some cases were never released.

“For example, a cheque of GH¢47,754.54 with its no. 922744 meant for payment into the fund for the month of November 2012 was issued on 31/12/2012, being one month after its due date. Such late submission of cheques denied contributors to the fund the opportunity to earn any interest income had the monies been received and invested earlier,” it explained.

In some of their answers to the audit queries, the EC somewhat sought to justify why the Endowment Fund was handled in that manner in the perioid under consideration.

“Indeed the Commission found itself in a very difficult financial situation from 2012 to 2014. This crisis was characterized by non-payment of salaries, salary related allowances and non-payments to service providers. This situation necessitated utilizing funds available by transferring funds from the Commissions Main and Special Accounts to its Operations Accounts to cater for operational activities. In addition to this, the Commission did not make any financial savings in year 2012 as a result, of costs associated with the implementation of the GIFMIS,” the auditee claimed.

The misappropriation occurred partly because there were procedural lapses which made it impossible for the trustees of the Fund to ascertain and monitor whether the releases had actually been received by the Commission or not, especially as there were no prompts or alerts by the Commission to the Fund Managers.