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31.01.2006 General News

¢1. 3 Trillion SEO Fraud: Perpetrators off the hook?

By Dominic Jale

… The government has failed to act on the recommendations by Forensic Auditors to take disciplinary action against some officers of 11 State Owned Enterprise (SOE) cited for corruption, almost five years the recommendations were forwarded to it.

At least the action or the inaction of these officials resulted the lost of over one trillion and three hundred billion ((¢1.291,224,819,168.00) to the state , The Sun has learnt.

The astonishing revelations that were contained in an 11-page Summary of the Forensic Audit Reports sighted by the SUN recommended prosecution and disciplinary action against the officials involved and suggested the blacklisting of the companies that were engaged in questionable supplies that had resulted in the lost to the state.

This is the result of the forensic audits ordered by the President J.A.Kuffour's administration, to find out the extent at which some state institutions were run over the year when the nation returned to democratic rule in 1992 to 2000 when the NPP government took over. The government spent undisclosed amount believed to be running into billions to engage Forensic Auditors to conduct that investigations.

The report attributed the massive loss discovered during the auditing mostly to fraud, carelessness and deliberates ploy.

However some of the affected officials challenged the credibility of the reports and it was not immediately known if that challenge prevented the government from acting on the recommendations by the auditors . The 11 institutions that featured in the Summary report were, the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC) State Insurance Company (SIC), and the Bulk Oil Storage and Transport (BOST). The others were Social Security & National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), and Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC).

The rest are, the National Insurance Company (NIC), Ghana Heavy Equipment Limited (GHEL), Ghana Reinsurance Commission (GRC) and the Ghana Water Company (GWCL).

Among the companies, the GNPC topped the list as a company where huge loss was recorded.

The company also recorded the single largest loss among the 11 companies with $40m (¢344 billion as at the time of the report). The lost was as a result of the engagement in derivatives with Societe General Bank. The other components of the loss recorded by the GNPC were $38 million that resulted from the purchase of rigs.

The SSNIT recorded a second place, with ¢370,365 billion.

It emerged that DM 2.78 million went down the drain in 14 different transactions. Others were ¢77 billion issuance of credit guarantees to Vanef for acquisition of STC without the Board approval, neither was there a proper asset and business valuation in that deal.

Other deals that pushed the Trust to the second position included ¢528,671 million payment of variation cost in excess of approved amount. The $594,000, over pricing of property Massillia House purchased from CFAO by the Databank for the Obotan Garden project while $120,000 inappropriate payment of real estate agency fee in relation to Obotan Garden was also recorded.

Other deals were ¢74 billion at Wahome and the $15 million, short delivery of about 230 rooms paid for by SSNIT at Golden Beach Hotels transaction. Again records indicated that $330,000 was double payment to Financial and Legal Consultants of Golden Beach Hotel and $60,000 double payment to the same financial and Legal Consultants of the same Golden Beach Hotels.

The next stop was Ogua Hotels Ltd. Reports says without the Board approval and without any loan agreement, ¢1.751 billion was invested in the Ogua Hotel. Also DM2.78 million credit guarantees to BMK Particle did not obtained Board blessing by the management, according to the report.

The ¢15 billion SSNIT staff seconded to manage Bridal Trust rather ran down the company through misapplication of loans. Also ¢450 million untimely disposal of 1.0 million shares of Aluworks, close to dividend payment and ¢120 million placement of the Aluworks share proceeds on call for seven weeks leading to financial loss to SSNIT.

Other areas of the losses were: ¢2.29 million under payment of share subscription by SIAT Ghana Ltd, ¢1.08 billion underpayment of share subscription in SIAT by Africa Tiger Mutual Fund.

The wrongful payment of success fees and other supposed start up costs to CTAC.

The paper gathered that $370,505. $2.0 million was over priced of equipment at BEESBLOCK while $765,000 alleged lack of evidence that Regimmannuel Gray paid up its share subscription in BEES BLOCK.

Then came ¢1.35 billion non-payment of share contribution by partner in Grand Regency and ¢528 million excess payment to project consultants on Legon Students Hostel.

Also there was ¢5.7m default on SSNIT loan to FIDAN Construction Ltd and 100 percent provision for bad debt without recourse to collateral. Again $144,381 manipulation of the bid process for purchase of computers & accessories while ¢63.6 million was payment in excess of acquired shares in Grand Regency Hotel.

The third place was taken by the SIC, with a loss of ¢71,757 billion over three transactions. The excessive underwriting of the Credit Guarantee Bonds recorded ¢67 billion.

The ¢257 million stood in the name of the former Board Chairman who were said to have used his position to benefit from a credit guarantee and has defaulted in repayment. Then came ¢4.5 billion procurement of Arrive Alive playing cards at inflated price.

This deal was carried out without the Board approval.

TOR followed SIC with a total of ¢67.719 billion in four transactions. Out of the TOR debt, $4.0 million award of contract for steam Boiler Plant was without tender and the Board knowledge and possible inflation of contract.

It came to light that $1.002 million contract for the construction of storage tanks was surrendered to a contractor without uncompetitive bidder. Again£942,333 went into glass-reinforced pipes fund turned out to be defective after installation while payments were made to the supplies.

The report revealed that $1.2 million /£113,753 award of hed ging contract to UBS was done without the Board blessing.

Ghana Reinsurance Company recorded a total loss of ¢46.957 billion from four transactions to pick.

These transactions are £3.3 million investment in Meridian BIAO also without Board authorization. Also ¢360 million investment in Celltel company and $28,500 loss of commission on Ghana Airways Insurance Cover and $17,637 procurement of computers at inflated prices.

DIC picked the sixth position with ¢20.426 billion from four transactions, namely $400,000 transferred to Goldshield Contact Service Ltd for no services provided.

Also $369,292 and ¢29.651 million was an excessive funds released for Pan African Investment Summit without laid down rule and $1,081 million and ¢4.362 billion recorded as excessive payments to particular companies for advertisement.

It emerged that ¢120 million was paid to the Board of Directors as 12 months sitting allowance to Board members though there were only three sittings in the year.

The ECG came seventh with losses of ¢13.956 billion from seven transactions. These transactions were $1,218 million contract for meters supply without due process with excessive mark up of the cost.

Then emerged ¢67,070 as an over pricing of Cable Lugs by supplier, ¢61,409.61 over pricing of tyres by supplies, £25,371 over pricing of tyres by supplier, £67,754.61 over stocking of tyres; ¢20,021.95 unfair pricing and overstocking of tyres and $4,794.4/¢31.5 million unfair pricing and overstocking of protective clothing. There were also system losses of ¢256 billion per year. GWCL followed ECG closely with the eighth position with losses of ¢10,623 billion from four transaction. The Insurance Commission followed ECG with a total loss of ¢1.409 billion from four transactions: $96,500 change of Ghana Airways reinsurance brokers for a personal commission); $28,500 loss of commission by Ghana Reinsurance over the Ghanair change of broker; 253.346 million over payment to supplier of stickers and Return Forms; ¢806 million excessive expenditure on private property of NIC officials and Volvo Car with the registration number GR 4588 which was in the custody of the former Commissioner on his own authority. The BOST placed 10th with a loss of ¢1.268 billion from four transactions. The highlights of these deals are ¢501 million non-invoicing of oil products to oil marketing companies and ¢245 million non-deduction of with-holding tax from payments to suppliers The ¢469 million was spent on the haulage claims without delivery Notes and waybills with ¢44 million going into non-delivery of Assets Register despite payment.

The relegation position was picked by the GHEL with a loss of ¢821.473 million from four connections.

The transactions are $18,505.5 payment of foreign medical bills to some people which did not receive Board notices and ¢193 million payment as directors' monthly allowances from November 998 to October 2000 even though there were only two meetings during the said period.

Also £25,094.67 was discovered as over payment for supply of materials while ¢118 million wrongful paid to director's as fees from March 1997 to July 1998. The Auditors recommended the prosecution of the officials who were involved in any of the reckless transactions including retrieval of the huge monies lost by the state through such malfeasance and mismanagement.

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