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06.06.2006 Crime & Punishment

Four Refund Stolen Money

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Efforts by the Controller and Accountant General's Department (CAGD) to recover money stolen from state coffers and stamp out fraud are yielding results.

So far, ¢2.4 billion has been refunded by four officials of the department who were alleged to have illegally transferred the money into their accounts.

The four, Jangay Benjamin Doku, Head of the Payroll Processing Unit, Daniel Opoku, formerly of the Payroll Processing Unit of the department and now with the Tema Municipal Assembly (TMA), Philip Seffah Kissi, Head of Deposits of the Final Accounts Unit, and Peter Ntim of the Audit and Investigations Unit, were alleged to have illegally transferred ¢2.9 billion into their accounts.

The four, who allegedly committed the offence between 2003 and 2005, were arrested by officials of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) last year after the fraud had been detected by officials of CAGD.

In an interview in Accra yesterday, the Controller and Accountant General, Mr Christian Tetteh Sottie, said, "The CAGD is poised to stamp out fraud, as well as recover all moneys which have been stolen from the state."

According to him, Doku, who was alleged to have stolen ¢1.2 billion, had so far refunded a total of ¢1.1 billion.

Doku also handed over his Toyota Matrix saloon car, valued at $18,000, to investigators, returned an amount of ¢65.4 million and sold his single-storey house, valued at ¢900 million, to defray the amount he had allegedly stolen from the state.

"Opoku was the first to refund ¢757.1 million which he was alleged to have stolen from state coffers, while Ntim refunded all the ¢42.7 million he was found to have stolen," Mr Sottie said.

Kissi had also refunded ¢136.8 million out of the ¢600 million he was alleged to have illegally transferred into his account, he added.

According to Mr Sottie, Kissi had assured investigators that he would refund the remaining money in due course.

According to Mr Sottie, the deals of the four were uncovered after the department had undertaken a massive staff transfer exercise and a thorough check into the work of transferred staff.

According to him some of the staff at the department were found to have stayed at one place for between four and 20 years without transfer and said the CAGD felt one of the best means of eliminating fraud was to transfer personnel as and when the need arose.

The four are currently standing trial at the Greater Accra Regional Tribunal charged with various counts of conspiracy, stealing, abetment of crime and attempting to commit crime.

Also standing trial alongside the four are Juliet Seffah Kissi and Theresa Osae Doku, the wives of Kissi and Doku.

Mr Sottie reminded staff of the CAGD that he perceived all of them as angels and, therefore, expected them to behave as such or have themselves to blame if they were found to be corrupt.