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01.02.2005 General News

Financial Irregularities At GBC...

By Palaver
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SOURCES close to the Finance Division of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), claim that Accounts officials are wondering why Ms Eva Lokko, the Director-General, has not been picked for investigations into cases of irregularities detected at the Accounts Department, but rather two poor officials of the outfit.

According to the informants, the irregularities should rather be traced to the office of the Director-General, who has been signing cheques, without following the laid-down procedures.

The DG, the sources said, does not only keep cheque books, but signs cheques, by-passing the Finance Department and having such cheques cashed at the Prudential Bank, near the offices of TV3.

Last week, officials from the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) invaded the GBC and locked up the Finance and Cash Office (Accounts Department) and picked up two officers for questioning.

The two, according to the information, are still being held. Their names are given as Mr Armah and Mr Paintsil.

Perhaps, what might have caused concerns was the unconfirmed reports that the Director-General had found it necessary to take the BNI to lunch before the operations.

In an earlier memo, sent to the DG, as far back as December 30, 2004, sectional heads of the Finance Division, had complained about the irregularities detected in payment procedures, obviously with the approval of the DG, who signs the cheques.

Parts of the letter read:

"Payment procedures currently being used, if not checked, can lead to flouting of the financial regulations of the Corporation.

"Of late, payments are made without any Internal Control Procedures.

For example, pre-auditing of payment vouchers before due payments are made, is not done".

The memo signed by 12 sectional heads of the Division, continued:

"The payment of the Long Service Award to deserving staff was done without the raising of payment vouchers and the various cheques, being recorded and properly discharged (by the recipients signing the cheque release book).

"We have proof that the cheques were written at the Director General's outfit, without the necessary payment procedures and controls followed.

"We deem these procedures as improper and unacceptable."

According to the memo, five Prudential Bank cheque books, collected by by Kofi Kye (Officer-in-Charge - Finance) from Mr Manford Armah (Officer-in-Charge - Treasury), used in the payments for a stay at Busua Resort Beach, payments for Long Service Awards and another to the Sports Council, had not been returned to the Treasury.

Curiously, Mr Armah, a signatory to the memo, is one of the two men picked up by the BNI.

Mr Armah had in separate memo complained about the irregularities.

However, in the on-going BNI investigations, the D-G and Kye had not been quizzed while those who demanded transparency and due diligence are in cells.

'Ghana Palaver' investigations further revealed that Mr Kye since the appointment of Ms Eva Lokko as D-G, has been given additional responsibility as the Head of Finance. He still holds the position of Internal Auditor of GBC. Who then audits whom?

Prior to the 'raid' at the GBC, a worker, who was about to cash one of such cheques for ¢16 million not ¢500 million as claimed by the D-G from the Bank of Ghana, had to take to his heels, when following a tip-off, he was about to be napped by the police. Aware that there are cameras at Bank of Ghana, we are at a loss why the culprit has not been apprehended.

Meanwhile, 'Palaver' investigations have also revealed that, normally, when cheques are written, from the Accounts Department, they are sent to the Office of the D-G's. They await her pleasure, for a week or two, before they are signed.

As a public office, the place is accessible to her secretary, junior clerks (messengers) and cleaners. For, she does not take the office key home. Apparently, if there are any investigations into the financial irregularities at GBC, then the head of the of outfit ought to be grilled.

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