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General News of Friday, 20 December 2019

Source: Daily Guide Network

Osafo-Maafo's surcharge suit takes shape


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Senior Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo’s attempt, to have a decision by Auditor General Daniel Domelevo to surcharge him and four others over $1 million paid to Kroll and Associates Limited set aside, is gathering momentum.

Information reaching Daily Guide indicates that the Auditor General has been served with the Notice of Appeal filed by the Senior Minister and four others - Michael Ayesu, Abraham Kofi Tawiah, Eva Asselba Mends and Patrick Nomo. The four persons are officers at the Ministry of Finance.

However, the High Court is yet to serve the parties with the hearing notice.

According to an appeal filed before an Accra High Court, the Senior Minister and the other appellants are insisting that the Auditor General acted “unreasonably, capriciously and maliciously” towards them in blatant violation of his duty as a public officer when he refused to inspect and study the evidence of work done by Kroll Associates UK Limited as requested by him (Osafo-Maafo).

The appeal is also challenging the investigations carried out by Mr. Domelevo as the Senior Minister suggested that the Auditor General does not have the powers to investigate and make findings of breaches of the procurement law.

Genesis

The Auditor-General has claimed that Mr. Osafo-Maafo and the Finance Ministry have colluded to pay the UK firm, Kroll and Associates Limited, $1 million for no evidence of work done.



The UK firm in 2017 was contracted by the government to recover assets from identified wrongdoers, among others.

But the Auditor-General later claimed that after audit, there was no evidence of work done by Kroll and Associates Limited and yet huge sums of money were paid to the company and then imposed a disallowance and surcharge on the minister and four others.

Appeal

Not satisfied with the decision of the Auditor General to disallow and surcharge him and four others, the Senior Minister has filed an appeal against the decision before an Accra High Court.

The appeal avers that the determination by the Auditor General that the payment of GH¢4,869,421.87 without approval from Parliament and the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) and thus offended Article 181 of the Constitution violates the appellants rights of hearing as same did not form part of either the audit observations issued to the Ministry of Finance or the final report of the Auditor General laid before Parliament.



It said the Auditor General “committed a grave and fundamental error of law in purporting to investigate and make findings of breaches of the procurement law by the appellants when he had no such authority at law.”

Some of the errors of law committed by the Auditor General, according to the appeal, include the claim that he is not vested with the power to conduct investigations to establish procurement breaches, neither was he authorized by the PPA to carry out the purported investigations relating to the alleged contraventions of the Procurement Act.

It also adds that Article 2 (1) of the 1992 Constitution requires a person who alleges that an act or omission of any person in contravention of the Constitution to bring an action in the Supreme Court for a declaration to that effect.

The appeal states that the Auditor General failed to do this but acted Suo Motu (acting on his own initiative) to determine the constitutionality of an act.



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