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18.02.2009 Politics

The innards of a public servant 'MILLS' MINISTER' DAMAGED GOODSThe forensic audit report commissioned by Auditor General damns Mumuni

By Stephen Odoi Larbi, Parliament & Charles Takyi Boadu - Ghanaian Chronicle
The innards of a public servant 'MILLS' MINISTER' DAMAGED GOODSThe forensic audit report commissioned by Auditor General damns Mumuni

Details of an audit report commissioned by the Auditor General and obtained from the House of Parliament last week, contain a horrific account of the underbelly of a man who has just been nominated as the Foreign Minister by President Mills.

It is so loaded with bile that Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, who is expected to be representing Ghana as the embodiment of this proud and beautiful Republic, cannot hold himself out without legally extricating himself from any wrong doing.

The report was completed nearly five years ago, and there has been no valid exonerating counter report.

The forensic audit report into the activities and operations of the National Vocational and Training Institute (NVTI), between the period of January 1997 to December 2002, which has been the subject matter of a raging controversy over whether or not Parliament should approve the nomination of Alhaji Muhammed Mumuni as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, makes damning findings against the President's nominee.

The audit, which was conducted by Messrs. Baffuor Awuah and Associates at the instance of the Auditor-General of the Republic, concluded that “the use of the NVTI as a conduit for siphoning an amount of over ¢19.6 billion (old cedis) of government funds to known and unknown persons, through huge and fraudulent payments to companies and enterprises as well as a number of individuals, is tantamount to 'money laundering' in some cases.”

The report made specific findings against Alhaji Muhammed Mumuni, who was by then the Minister in Charge of Employment and Social Welfare, and his other colleagues including the late Victor Selormey, who was by then the Deputy Minister of Finance and the former Controller and Accountant-General, R.K Tuffuor.

It noted that the acts of omissions and commissions perpetrated by the former Minister and his colleagues in the release of an amount of ¢19 billion (old cedis) to the Director of NVTI “did not only result in a financial loss to the state of over ¢15 billion, being total amount fraudulently paid out of the sum of ¢19 billion to private companies and individuals for goods not supplied or services not rendered, but also constitutes misconduct and gross negligence under the provisions of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.”

These provisions were detailed in the Audit Service Decree, 1997 (N.C.R.D 49), the Audit Service Act 2000, Act 584 and the Financial Administration Regulations, 1997 LI 1234.

In the course of its investigations, the auditors uncovered that between the period of October 1999 and September 2000 alone, a total amount of ¢19 billion was released to NVTI outside their budgetary allocation from the Ministry of Finance.

The auditors said they could confirm that ¢13 billion out of the said ¢19 billion was at the request of Alhaji Muhammed Mumuni and authorised by Victor Selormey.

Out of this amount ¢11 billion was said to have been paid into NVTI's operating bank account at the Bank of Ghana, whilst the remaining “was fraudulently transferred into an undisclosed account, operated by Dr. Michael Yaw Boateng, the interdicted Director of NVTI and Emmanuel Jack Animi, former Chief Accountant at the NVTI.”

Meanwhile, the ¢19 billion, which was allegedly meant for the purchase of equipment for NVTI centres, was released without Parliamentary approval or any other proper authority.

The auditors, therefore, noted that the action constituted what it described as 'ultra vires', stressing that “it is significant to note that for the two year period, the total approved annual budget for the institute was ¢6.629 billion.” Out of this amount, only ¢225 million was said to have been approved for purchase of plant and equipment.

The report further indicated that at the request of Alhaji Mumuni, two identical letters, dated 20th March and 29th August 2000, ¢10.1 billion and ¢10.05 billion respectively were issued for the same purpose; to equip NVTI centres and addressed them to the then Minister of Finance.

As a result of these two letters, the auditors noted that “amounts of ¢5 billion and ¢8billion respectively were released under the authority of Victor Selormey, the then Deputy Minister of Finance to the Director of NVTI, although in 1999 ¢6 billion had been released for the same purpose.

Out of the ¢5 billion released in March 2000, the report noted that a total amount of over ¢2.12 billion was fraudulently paid to suppliers for goods they did not supply to the institute.

Further checks by the auditors revealed that about ¢7.86 billion out of the ¢8 billion in September 2000 was misappropriated.

“One would have expected that both releases should not have exceeded ¢10.1 billion as the request was for the same purpose. It is also intriguing why the Minister within a period of 4 months made request for over ¢20 billion towards the end of the financial year, especially when the NVTI''s total budget for the year was only ¢3.99 billion”, the auditors emphasised.

Meanwhile, an amount of ¢6 billion had been released for the same purpose in 1999.

The auditors thus established that “none of the funds released went to support the programmes that the former Minister had mentioned in both letters”, stressing that “it is also puzzling that the Minister would use the same reasons to request for funds and yet did not verify the use of the earlier releases of ¢6 billion and ¢5 billion to the NVTI.”

That notwithstanding, the auditors found something unusual about the two letters since in both cases, the letters signed by Victor Selormey for the release of funds were done in a matter of 24 hours of request, saying “it is equally important to note that; the NVTI also disbursed the funds in a matter of weeks of all the releases for fraudulent purposes that did not meet the objectives of the request by the Minister.”

It therefore noted that “the two former Ministers, Alhaji Muhammed Mumuni and Victor Selormey who facilitated the releases of these funds to NVTI in contravention of the Financial Administration Regulations (LI 1234) contributed to the perpetration of fraud.”

In the final analysis, the auditors noted that Muhammed Mumuni and his colleagues be held jointly and severally accountable for the recovery of the total financial loss of ¢5,750,762,300 billion.

Mumuni was accused of apparently causing the release of an amount of ¢6 billion in 1999 to NVTI, out of which ¢5,750,762,300 billion was fraudulently paid to suppliers for goods they did not deliver to the institute.

The auditors also accused him of failing to ensure that the ¢6 billion released to NVTI under his authority was disbursed for the purpose for which it was intended for, and for causing the release of ¢6 billion to NVTI without the approval of Parliament nor any other proper authority, and for equipment for which the approved budget was only ¢100 million.

Meanwhile, the President's nominee, Alhaji Muhammed Mumuni has described the report in question as a dodgy instrument, which has been purely manufactured for the purposes of prosecuting political vendetta.

In an interview with The Chronicle, he noted that there was no way he could accept the document as an Auditor-General's report, since according to him, it has not been properly tabled before Parliament as an institution.

He quoted Article 187 of the 1992 Constitution and the Audit Service Act to support his claim, stressing “it is very clear, that when the Auditor-General does any audit inspection, his report is published when he transmits it to Parliament and the Speaker of Parliament.”

When it is laid in the House, he noted that it is then referred to the Public Accounts Committee where any person whose adverse findings are made against is invited to defend himself.

At the end of it, he emphasised that the Committee will publish a report, which will also be laid in Parliament for a debate on the floor before it prescribes a solution, whether people should be prosecuted or made to refund whatever losses they might have caused the nation in the line of duty. For this reason, he noted that the document was a dodgy instrument.

Both the Minority leader, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu and the First Deputy Speaker and chairman of the Appointments Committee, Hon. Doe Adjaho refused to comment on the report as to whether it could block the chances of the nominee. Adjaho, however, said that if a nominee does not breach any of the qualifications to enter parliament or public office, the Committee might approve him or her.

The Chronicle will soon start serialising the report. Stay tuned