EOCO caught in corruption scandal?

Mr Prosper Bani,Interior Minister

Mr Prosper Bani,Interior Minister

The Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) established by law to investigate economic and organised crime in the public service has been accused of engaging in financial malpractices, including the payment of salaries totalling GH¢53, 974 to “ghost names”.

An audit inquiry into the accounts of EOCO by the Auditor General (AG) has revealed that the management of the office has supervised several financial irregularities.

The AG has accused EOCO of receiving over GH¢1.5 million without issuing official receipts, paying salaries to former employees who have been dismissed, resigned, died or vacated their post, among other things.

As a result, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament yesterday invited the management of EOCO to appear before it and offer some explanations to the allegations by the AG.

According to the AG, amounts in different currencies totalling more than GH¢1.5 million paid into two GoG accounts from various payees were not covered with official receipts.

“The omission could be attributed to ineffective supervision by the head of finance to ensure that official receipts are issued for all money received. If this practice is not stopped, money received could end up in private pockets without management easily detecting it,” it said.

Besides, the AG said a review of the revenue received and lodged to bank revealed that cash on hand had not been lodged to the bank account at the time of the Audit.

“We observed that an amount of 121,100 naira and 29,000 CFA was kept with the cashier. We further noted that the accountant neither maintained a cash book to record the transactions nor opened bank accounts for these two currencies.

“Unbanked cash holdings could easily be misappropriated and also exposed to theft,” the report indicated.

The AG further alleged that a payroll audit it conducted on the accounts of EOCO revealed that 20 officers who were dismissed, resigned, died or vacated their post were wrongfully paid a total unearned salary of GH¢53, 974.

The infraction, it added, contravened the Financial Administration Regulation 297.

The acting Executive Director of EOCO, Justice Tsar, explained that the office would put measures in place to recover the monies wrongfully paid to the former employees.

He said the office had the capacity to identify the people and recover the monies but the committee, chaired by Kwaku Agyemang Manu, Member of Parliament for Dormaa Central, urged EOCO to refer the matter to the police instead.

Justice Tsar said EOCO would work hard to ensure that such infractions did not occur and added that “anytime EOCO takes a frog, it becomes news, but when any other institution takes a cow, it is no news”.

Earlier, the Deputy Minister of Finance, Ato Forson, led a team from the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) to explain why GYEEDA overspent its budget by 200 per cent in 2012.

An amount of GH¢20 million was approved for the agency to carry out its programmes and activities but the institution ended up spending GH¢200 million.

The deputy minister told the committee that the monies were used to pay the service providers of GYEEDA and added that the agency could not defer the payments because they were not only due but also had penalty clauses.

By Yaw Kyei            

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