GBC Board, A-G clash Over cheques authorisation
A release issued by the Auditor-General, Mr. Edward Dua-Agyeman has sent him on a collision course with the board of directors of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC).
By a letter dated October 14, 2005, Mr. Dua-Agyeman informed the GBC board and management he was “currently conducting investigations at GBC, into the financial operations including fraudulent withdrawal of cash using allegedly stolen cheques.”
The auditor general stated that to ensure that fair and speedy investigation was carried out, he wanted the management and the board of GBC to maintain the current management until investigations were completed.
Mr. Dua-Agyeman continued, 'I am also requesting that the bank mandate currently held by the Director-General, Ms. Eva Lokko and the Financial Director, Mr. Kofi Kye, should be maintained until the investigation is over and a report issued.'
Mr. Dua Agyeman asserted that “By a copy of this letter, I am informing the Bank of Ghana, Prudential Bank and (Agricultural) Development Bank (ADB) to observe this request.”
The National Media Commission (NMC) and the minister of information were also copied.
This directive of the Auditor-General, however, run contrary to a decision of the GBC board communicated to the corporation's banks three days earlier, by a letter of October 11, to be effective the following day.
In that letter, titled “Cessation of Honouring of Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) Cheques,” the Board chairman who is also the Chief of Essikado in the Shama Ahanta East Metropolitan Authority, Nana Kobina Nketsia V informed the managers of four banks dealing with GBC not to honour any cheque from GBC.
The directive was precise: “You are hereby instructed that with immediate effect (effectively October 12, 2005), you are to cease honouring all Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) cheques on all the accounts with your bank irrespective of the date the cheques were issued.”
The board indicated that it would communicate to the banks “at an appropriate time when this ban is to be lifted.”
Some workers of GBC were incensed by the Auditor-General's directive, saying they found it strange that contrary to the standard procedure that persons under investigations were interdicted, suspended or proceeded on leave before investigations commenced on their activities, such a decision was being taken.
“It is only when the person has been declared innocent that he or she is allowed to come back,” one of them said.
Recent investigations into the financial operations of GBC revealed that six cheques totaling ¢630,747,000.00 had been stolen and cashed without management's knowledge. A draft audit report, blamed the GBC management – the Director General, Ms Eva Lokko and the Director of Finance, Mr. Kye for their failure to institute proper control measures to safeguard the assets of the corporation.
Meanwhile, a source close to the NMC says that the commission has not come to a conclusion on the GBC matter because it was yet to receive a report the GBC chairman was to submit. “It has taken a long time for the board chairman to furnish us with the report for us to act on,” the source said.
Meanwhile, The Chronicle's investigations have revealed that out of the 25 cheques cashed, 15 were worth over one billion cedis. The Chronicle's investigations reveal also that between August 2, 2005 and August 24, 2005, eight cheques, totalling four hundred and twenty one million, two hundred and eighty thousand cedis (¢421,280,000.00) were withdrawn from The Trust Bank (TTB) account of the bank.
Some of the payees of the TTB cheques were Bismark Acheampong, E. Parker, Kuleape William G, Kuleap W George, Kuleape W and Turn Over Engineering among others. Responding to The Chronicle's enquiries on phone, the board chairman debunked reports in the Weekend Crusading Guide that he and other members of the board failed to respond to an invitation extended to them by the auditor general last Wednesday, saying he was surprised about the report.
He said he never received any formal information from the auditor general to attend any meeting on Wednesday, but heard it on air just before the meeting. “You don't expect me to go for a meeting when I have been invited on air?” he shot back.
The chairman explained that last Friday's meeting with the Auditor-General, was over GBC accounts and not over cheques.
He said they are still waiting for the report of the audit into GBC for them to make recommendations to the NMC.
Meanwhile, latest information reaching The Chronicle indicates that two members of the GBC board have resigned.