I Feel Harrassed - Tsikata
Former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Petroleum Cooperation (GNPC) Tsatsu Tsikata, has questioned the basis upon which the Auditor-General, Mr. Edward Dua Agyeman is revisiting GNPC's financial statements and records for the year ending December 1996 to 1997. According to Mr. Tsikata since the Auditor-General at the time, appointed a private audit firm Deloitte and Touche to audit the Corporation's account and submit a report which was subsequently approved by the Board of Directors, he thinks it is only mischief that makes the current Auditor-General want to resurrect the issue even clear years thereafter.
Citing Article 187(5) of the 1992 Constitution, which says “the Auditor-General shall within six months after the end of immediately preceding financial year..submit his report to Parliament and shall in that report draw the attention to any irregularities in the accounts audited and to any other matter which in his opinion ought to be brought to the notice of Parliament,” he questioned “on what basis, then, can you be re-opening, years later, issues from those account” since GNPC's accounts were duly dealt with at the time. He also wondered whether the Auditor-General's “successor similarly be entitled to reopen issues in accounts that you have dealt with during your tenure.”
Documents from Mr. Dua Agyeman's office indicate that on 8th April this year, he wrote to the former GNPC boss with an emphatic directive to respond within 14 days to concerns he has raised with the financial statement and records of GNPC for the years ended 31st December 1996 and 1997.
The Auditor-General had sought to remind the former Chief Executive of the objects and functions of the Corporation set up by PNDC Law 64 of 1983 which he said was basically to undertake the exploration, development, production and disposal of petroleum.
But that contrary to those objectives, a review of the financial statements and records of the Corporation had disclosed that certain discrepancies in areas such as the transfer in GNPC's accounts in Ghana Commercial Bank, London of a sum of 27, 680,407.12 dollars (44,461,854,751.62) by the Ministry of Finance from the proceeds after the disposal of part of government's shares in the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation.
And also,that even though the transfer were treated as sales revenue, the current management of GNPC, upon his enquiry informed him that Mr. Tsikata only verbally instructed them that the amount should be treated as sales. This he finds impropriate and wants an explanation from Mr. Tsikata backed with relevant sales invoices.
However a two-page letter addressed to the Auditor-General from his counsel Professor E. V. O. Dankwa of Azinyo Chambers, Mr. Tsikata stated that since 2001 agencies such as the Police CID, the BNI, the SFO as well as Price Waterhouse Coopers have on the instructions of government, claimed to be going into the books of GNPC evidently in a determined effort to find something against him..
“My client several times was invited by the Police CID to answer various questions on the accounts of the Corporation” and above all “is currently facing a prosecution for causing financial loss to the state on the basis of certain transactions occurring even before the law about the supposed crimes was enacted.” Professor Dankwa therefore hoped that the Auditor-General's directives is not another chapter in what he alleged is “clearly a saga of harassment” of the former GNPC boss because the Auditor-General's questions are ones that's familiar with the petroleum industry and with the operations of the Corporation and therefore could have been sorted out with ease.