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GHS uncovers rot at …Internal Auditor implicated in embezzlement of several millions of cedis

The Director, Internal Audit Division of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Mr Kwabena Hemeng-Ntiamoah, has landed himself in hot water over alleged misappropriation of funds of the GHS running into several million of cedis.

Several staff of the GHS may also have been implicated in the deal.

According to Ghanaian Times investigations over the last four months, Mr Hemeng-Ntiamoah is alleged to have misappropriated monies meant for audit assignments through a number of schemes, since January 2016 to August 2019.

Available documentary exhibits in the possession of the Ghanaian Times, quoted a wide range of amounts from the various regions since 2018, as monies allegedly swindled by the Internal Audit boss.

The figures range from GH¢6,500, GH¢10,500, GH¢12,600, GH¢15,600 and GH¢16,850 with the highest amount being GH¢18, 500 paid to a supposed fake team during the Western Region audit work on July 7, 2018.

In light of the supposed ‘gross’ misconduct, the Director of Audit was ordered by the Health Service in November 2019 to proceed on leave, prior to his resignation.

His resignation takes effect on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, a source at the GHS has confirmed.

Mr Hemeng-Ntiamoah, who is a Council Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana (ICAG), was alleged to have misconducted himself variously by combining two programme audits (Global Fund and MCHNP), to a team for the regions – but paid for only one programme audit and kept the other for himself.

The Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition Improvement Project (MCHNP) is a programme that seeks to increase the utilisation of community-based maternal and child health and nutrition services, with a special focus on pregnant women and children under two years of age, while the Global Fund provided prevention, treatment and care services to hundreds of millions of people, helping to revitalise entire communities, strengthen local health systems and improve economies.

Credible documentary exhibits stumbled upon by the Ghanaian Times also alleged that Mr Hemeng-Ntiamoah “falsified signatures of some staff of the Internal Audit Division (IAD), to retire funds allocated to a ‘fake’ team; directed programme offices to credit huge sums of monies into the account of some audit staff and later asked them to withdraw same for him.”

Among others, the document also fingered the IAD Director of “using a non-GHS driver (Fred Addae) by depositing huge sums of monies into his account by means of retiring programme audit funds.”

In view of the foregoing, four concerned staff of the GHS, on August 13, 2019, petitioned then Director General of GHS, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, copied to the Minister of Health (Mr ‎Kwaku Agyemang-Manu) to investigate the “alleged malfeasance and gross abuse of office” by Mr Hemeng-Ntiamoah.

The concerned staff are Messrs Victor Atsu (Chief Internal Auditor), Charles Aryee (Deputy Chief Internal Auditor), Alhassan Ibn Osmanu (Senior Internal Auditor) and Kingsley Assisi Adjabeng (Internal Auditor).

Subsequently, in September 2019, a three-member fact-finding committee, headed by Mr Tony Dzadra (GHS Council Member), was put together to look into allegations made by the four internal auditors and come out with appropriate recommendations for further action.

The committee, according to Ghanaian Times sources, finished its report in November 2019 and recommended the resignation of Mr Hemeng-Ntiamoah.

However, attempts by the petitioners to get a copy of the Dzadra Committee Report has hit snag, forcing them to write a reminder on January 8, 2020, to the Director of GHS.

It goes without saying that on August 19, last year, Mr Hemeng-Ntiamoah denied any wrongdoing in a three-page defence submitted to the Director General of GHS and copied to the Minister of Health.

He expressed shock at the allegations, insisting they were unfounded.

Mr Hemeng-Ntiamoah, who is in his mid-50s, also described as “completely false” claims that he falsified signatures of some staff of the IAD, to retire funds allocated to a ‘fake’ team.

“I have never falsified any signatures they’re complaining about. Most of these funds were paid into bank accounts of officers and they’re available for comment,” he said.

He insisted, however, that he was ready to refund monies involved “if any of them testifies that I forged their signatures.”

Mr Hemeng-Ntiamoah confirmed that one Mr Addae was not a driver of GHS, but was introduced to him by the service’s transport manager, Mr Ampadu “and after a trip to the three Northern Regions, I realised he drives very well; he’s professional, reliable and I therefore decided to go to all regions with him.”

According to him, Mr Addae’s accommodation is always paid to him directly, “and I have not taken a pesewa from him.”

When contacted by the Ghanaian Times at the weekend, Mr Hemeng-Ntiamoah further denied having committed any offence, insisting that “there are some people who want to tarnish my image.”

He, however, confirmed his resignation last November but said it had nothing to do with the case.

“I was supposed to have taken up an international appointment hence my resignation; but I didn’t go because I haven’t been feeling very well of late,” he explained.

 New Director General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Aboagye, said he had no knowledge of the case.

“It’s an allegation for now, and I don’t know where this is coming from,” he told the Ghanaian Times, when reached.

However, in an attempt to clarify the issue, the Public Relations Officer of the GHS, Jacob Acquah Andoh, called for a meeting with this reporter on Wednesday, January 15.

Dr Aboagye was appointed new Director General for the GHS effective November 15, 2019, taking over from Dr Nsiah-Asare, who is reported to have been reassigned to the Presidency as advisor on health matters to the President.

BY JOHN VIGAH

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