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24.10.2007 General News

Threats Won’t Change Our Resolve — Mensah

The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, says threats on his life and that of other members of the committee, will not change their resolve to carry out their constitutionally mandated exercise of making public the contents of the Auditor-General's Report.

Mr Samuel Sallas-Mensah also stated categorically that the committee's public hearing was neither a witch-hunt nor a partisan political exercise but one anchored in the pursuit of the national interest.

Mr Sallas-Mensah said this in an interview in Parliament shortly after the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning took its turn at the public sitting yesterday.

According to him, members of the PAC would not, under any circumstance, be cowed or intimidated by the threats of some faceless individuals or group of persons who were not happy about the disclosures at the committee sittings.

He explained that some persons who failed to identify themselves had been issuing threats to him and members of the committee on phone to stop the public sittings or “all the members of the committee will be eliminated one by one”.

He said the calls intensified after last Wednesday's sitting, to the extent that they told him that his elimination would “take place within the shortest practicable time”.

Mr Sallas-Mensah said members of the committee had taken the threats seriously and had asked for protection from the security agencies to enable them to discharge their constitutional mandate without fear or favour.

In another development, the PAC has decided to invite the Director of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) to explain the discrepancies in the prosecution of one Mr Nicholas Sakyi whom the Auditor-General's Report had faulted for allegedly embezzling ¢4.3 billion.

The decision was reached after the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Joe Ghartey, had appeared before the committee yesterday to debunk the assertion of the BNI that his outfit was the cause of the delay in the prosecution of Mr Sakyi.

He sought to lay the blame on the inconclusive investigations conducted by the BNI on the matter.

Armed with letters indicating communication that had taken place on the issue between the BNI and the Attorney-General's office, members of the committee decided to invite the Director of the BNI to shed more light on the issue.

According to the report, Mr Sakyi had, between January 2002 and August 2005, written 51 cheques in favour of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for the payment of withholding tax deductions.

The report said Mr Sakyi altered the vouchers to read either I.R. Samuel and Sons Limited, J. R. Samuel and Sons Limited or I. R. Service Limited and the amount subsequently cashed and misappropriated by him.

Story by Kweku Tsen
& Kofi Yeboah