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Feature Article of Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Columnist: Moustache, Araba

NDUOM and the Serious Fraud albatross Part (1)

Fraud, according to criminal law, is an intentional deception for personal gain or to damage another individual, group of individuals or the state. Fraud is a crime. And it is more severe when it is against the people for whose political will we strive to seek. Ever since the climax of the anti-colonial struggle against imperialist’s fraudulent control and management of our resources, political independence of the state of Ghana from 1957 has been bedeviled with torpor greed by man to sap and titillate the resources of the majority of the people. The people’s resource exists in different forms and by systems which are either steered by guidelines crafted by decrees or statutes. The wealth of the people of Ghana is virtually controlled by the few profit-driven elitist class whose desire seeks to protect their survival above the majority of the people through exploitation, deception and greed.

During the era of the Provisional National Defence Council under the chairmanship of Fmr. Flt Jerry John Rawlings, the State Enterprises Commission (SEC) was set up by PNDC Law 170 as a Statutory Corporation with several objectives, the purpose of which ultimately was the promotion within the framework of Government policy of the efficient and profitable operation of the State Owned Enterprises of Ghana (SOEs). These Enterprises numbering 53 were listed as a schedule to the Law and involve all the State Enterprises including the Press Houses and other state-owned mass media units.

The significance of this PNDC Law and its implementation brings into sharp focus how certain circumstances transform into fortunes for some individuals in Ghana. By attempting to dig into the history of this Law and how its implementation became an extension of the deliberate neo-colonial economic obliteration of the legacy of Nkrumah therefore provides the opportunity to present findings and analysis which could make the reader conclude on how the State was once a victim of exploitation. The strength of the analysis is drawn from a report from Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) formally known as the Serious Fraud Office. The report was borne out from investigations into allegations of fraud, irregularities and other malpractices in the administration of the State Enterprises Commission that had caused serious losses to the State of the Republic of Ghana.

It was in the end of November, 1995 when the Serious Fraud Office was tasked by instructions from the Presidential Staffer, Nii Okaija Adamafio, to study allegations of fraud and other matters in the running of State Enterprises that had caused serious losses to the State. The study produced a preliminary report dated 14th December, 1995 which was submitted to the Presidential Staffer. The SFO was further instructed for a complete investigation to be undertaken by examining the entire allegation and make findings, conclusions and recommendation. The allegations covered irregularities in the areas of Management, Discipline, Corporate direction, State Enterprises Commission Board and Administration of the Commission. It also surrounded disposal of vehicles , use of vehicles, reform programs, consultancy agreements , consultancy fees, courses and seminars, and an interesting publication of the then Executive Commission of the Commission, Mr. William Adda.

That notwithstanding, as a result of illness of the then Executive Director-Mr. Adda, his failure to return the investigators’ questionnaire which was to be completed and submitted to the SFO and news about his later trip abroad, the report established some reservations. Subject to the above reservations, the report therefore was submitted as conclusive of the allegations which was investigated. Nduom was among some consultants who the report mentions as contracted by the Commission.

According to the report, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom was appointed by a contract on 1st May 1991 as a corporate planning and performance improvement consultant. His duty was to execute ten (10) items carried out such other tasks related to the Commission as may be assigned by the Executive Chairman from time to time. This item of duty entailed handling the Executive chairman’s duty of directing the corporate affairs of the SEC. Nduom billed SEC every hour he spent on the substantive matters.

The State Owned Enterprises Reform Project (SOERP) became the major work of the SEC. Allegations of irregularities with respect to the Reform Programme, according the report, included that “Dr. Nduom a consultant to SEC was singled out as one consultant whose contract may be fraught with the most irregularities as follows. He was engaged as an external consultant but acted as Executive Director (PME) of the SEC for over two years, using an official vehicle and being paid per diem and provided with air tickets to and from the US. At the same time he was the Chief Executive of his firm in Ghana and he worked fully with AGC at Obuasi.”

It is worth establishing the concrete reason why the reform project was initiated. Following an agreement signed with the International Development Association (IDA) for a credit facility to implement a Reform programme for the State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) with the aim of improving their efficiency, the reform programme sort to Strengthen Management of SOE Reform programme, Divestiture of SOEs, and SOE restructuring. Relating the issue of the divestiture of SOEs, it can be mentioned that the report points at least thirty (30) SOEs, including preparation of prospectus , valuation of state assets, information campaign search for investors , review of bids and negotiating of sales arrangements. The divesture process also included strengthening the Divestiture Implementation Committee, established by PNDC Law 326. 1993, Divestiture of State Interests (Implementation), including the provision of advice on how sale state enterprises and assets.

Soon after the agreement with IDA in October 1987, the reports mentions records showing that proposals were received from private companies like Coopers & Lybrand, Accra, Price Water House, Deloitte Haskins and Sells, the Public Sector Management Group of Canada, Tahal Consulting and many others. A memo “Draft Agreement between The Republic of Ghana And Messrs Price Waterhouse for Consultancy Services” dated 23rd May 1985 from PNDC Secretary and Executive Chairman of SEC was signed and later passed by The Public Agreement Board. The contract was later terminated by mutual agreement of both parties by July 1990. In the submission of the performance report of the work by Price Water to the SEC Board, the SFO investigation report mentioned that the Executive Director of SEC emphasized that after PW he did not want to deal with Firms but with Individuals. Interestingly, it was a decision accepted by the World Bank as stipulated in the findings the SFO report.

Therefore, another invitation for proposals was opened. For this time round Deloitte Haskins and Sells (18/9/1990), University of Alberta African Management Project (12/10/1089), Deloitte and Touche Consultants, Consultant Management Enterprise Ltd (CME) and Prime Management Associates Ltd (9/4/1990) submitted proposals. The report significantly stresses the fact that individuals were to continue consultancy jobs which meant that proposals should have been requested from individual Consultants. The report was apt. It also magnificently identifies for the first time the appearance of another “Deloitte and Touche” introduced as Consultancy firm. Therefore, a controversy erupts as two entities claiming the title of “Deloitte and Touche”. SFO investigators managed to finger the proposal from the new Deloitte & Touche Consultancy attached as Appendix C of its reports that the document by Deloitte & Touche Consultancy differed from the rest in material terms. For instance, Deloitte &Touche proposal not being on a letter headed paper showing its official origins on its face as is usual in business communication. The only indication came in a second paragraph of Deloitte &Touche proposal. For the avoidance of doubt, the investigators of the Serious Fraud Office quoted the the proposal for proof. It is presented in quote as follows “The proposal is submitted under the Deloitte Ross Tohmatsu (DRT) International umbrella. We plan the participation of DRT member firms in Washington, London and West Africa in the proposed project. DRT, provides services to public and private sector Clients in 104 Countries through over 450 offices. Our World Wide professional staff exceeds 60,000. Deloitte & Touche is a member firm of DFTI which was formed by the recent merger of two “BIG EIGHT” Firms, Deloitte, Haskins & Sells, and Touche Ross. In West Africa, Deloitte & Touche Consultants operate from offices in Abidjan, Accra and Lagos with a professional Staff of 35 Consultants”

The Serious Fraud investigators also stated unequivocally in their findings that “The proposal was not signed”. The only indication as to its author was a mention in the last paragraph of “P. Kwesi Nduom” and “Aubert Zohore” and their telephone numbers for contact purposes. Even more strangely was the statement that the whole document had imprinted on it “DRAFT”, says the findings.

What was more embarrassing in the early findings relating the proposal was that the origin of this proposal document appears to be the same as the proposal from Deloitte Haskins and Sells in Ghana. That proposal was introduced as follows;

“As requested, we attach a copy of the above documents prepared by our Association firm in U.S.A dated November 3, 1989. We wish however to inform you that since that date a lot of changes have taken place. Deloitte Haskins & Sells International has merged with another International firm called Touche Ross International under one name of Deloitte Ross Tohmatsu International (DRT International). Such a global merger did not embrace our former Assoication firms in the UK and Netherlands who voted to merge with Coopers & Lybrand International. Consequent upon this merger the name of the firm throughout the United States is now known as Deloitte & Touche.”

….To be continued

Prof. Araba Moustache Ze Dong The Careful Master Nkrumah Forever!

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