SSNIT financial loss case: Prosecution ordered to provide accused with documents

An Accra High Court on Friday ordered prosecution, in the case, in which former Director General of Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Mr. Ernest Thompson, and four others are standing trial for causing financial loss to the state, to furnish accused with documents.

The order was at the request of counsel for Mr.Thompson, Samuel Codjoe, who told the court that the documents were “missing content in the contract documents.”

Consequently, the court presided by Justice Henry Anthony Kwofie, a Court of Appeal judge, sitting with additional responsibility as a High court judge, asked prosecution to give those documents to accused within three weeks.

Mr. Thomspon, together with John Hagan Mensah, a former Information Technology (IT) manager at SSNIT, and Juliet Hassan Kramer, Chief Executive Officer of Perfect Business Systems, have been charged for willfully causing financial loss to the state, regarding a contract worth $66 million.

The rest were Caleb Kwaku Afaglo, a former Head of Management and information Systems at SSNIT and Peter Hayibor, the lawyer for SSNIT.

They have all pleaded not guilty to 29 charges preferred against them.

Mr. Codjoe said “those documents are essential and crucial to our defence”, adding that pages 2 to 34 in the contract documents were missing.

Counsel also told the court that, some of the “memos and minutes” they requested were also missing.

The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mrs Yvonne Atakorah Obuobisa, said prosecution would liaise with SSNIT to get the documents for accused.

The facts according to the prosecution are that in June 2010, SSNIT developed a new software solution known as Operational Business Suit (OBS), to provide a state-of-the-art pension administration system on a turnkey basis.

Mrs. Obuobisa said the Trust advertised for international competitive bidding in the media for the development and implementation of the project, and on November 15, 2012, awarded the $34 million contract to Silverlake, a Malaysian IT solutions provider, and PBS purportedly as a consortium, even though Silverlake did not participate in the bidding.

The court heard that the contract aimed to automate all the core processes in the administration of pension and integrate all internal systems as well as the external stakeholders of SSNIT.

Prosecution said the contract, which covered the head office including 55 sites was to be completed in 15 months.

The DPP told the court that contrary to the terms of the contract, Mr. Thompson, Mrs. Kramer and  Afaglo caused payments to be made by SSNIT to OPBS for items, which were already covered by the contract, thereby ballooning the total $34,011,914.21 to $66,783,148.08 through what accused referred as “change orders” and “variations”.

The said “change orders and variations”, the prosecutor noted were carried out at the instance of Mr. Thompson, Mensah, Kramer and Afaglo, adding that some of the payments were above the threshold of the former SSNIT boss.

On January 15, 2016, the prosecutor said SSNIT entered into a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with PBS/Silverlake for $2,570,976.41 per annum for maintenance and warranty for three years.

She said although maintenance and warranty agreement was executed in 2016, payment started in 2014, when no service had been rendered.

BY MALIK SULLEMANA

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