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General News of Monday, 22 July 2013

Source: The Herald

5 billion stolen at Ghana Water Company

The massive corrupt empire which existed under ex-Managing Director of Ghana Water Limited (GWCL), Kweku Botwe, is gradually being brought down as two senior officers of the Accra West Office of the Ghana Urban Water Limited (GUWL), have been interdicted and sent home for stealing from the company’s bank account in excess of ¢5 billion.

It is from the same outfit that hundreds of PVC pipes bought at exorbitant prices from the company’s coffers were diverted to a worker’s private residence to be sold on the open market and the money pocketed.

The two, William Adu-Ntiamoah, who is the Regional Finance Manager and Frank Asiedu, who is the Distribution Manager, all at the Accra West branch of the company, have since been handed over to the Dansoman Police and are being investigated on charges of fraud and stealing.

Both Asiedu and Adu-Ntiamaoh have been granted bail by the Dansoman Police, pending further investigation by the management of Ghana Water, led by Mr. Kwaku Godwin Dovlo, under strict instruction of the Board of Directors.

The management and the board of directors believe that the wanton dissipation and outright stealing from the coffers of the state-owned water provider is widespread, hence a wider investigation will help appreciate the extent of the rot, which is estimated at over ¢5 billion.

The Herald’s information is that the two, William Adu-Ntiamoah and Frank Asiedu, together with the Regional Human Resource Manager by name Eva Ankrah, who are signatories to bank account number 0092010055740, withdrew monies in excess of GH¢200,000.00 (¢2 billion) between January to June 2013 alone, without the knowledge of the third signatory, Eva Ankra.

The GH¢200,000.00 (¢2 billion) in particular, was illegally withdrawn from a bank account named “New Service Account”. It was meant for new water connection. New customers paid monies for the purchase of pipes and other materials to get potable water to their homes.

According to The Herald’s findings, but for the transfer of one E. O Armarh from Takoradi in the Western Region to the Accra West Office at Dansoman, the daylight looting would not have been detected.

Sources within Ghana Water Company disclosed to The Herald that William Adu-Ntiamoah and Frank Asiedu, suspecting the arrival of the new Regional Internal Auditor from Takoradi would lead to the detection of their nefarious activities, designed a scheme to robe him into their corrupt web by regularly handing him part of the stolen money to shut him up.

In appreciation, Mr. Armarh innocently went to the Greater Accra Regional Manager, Yaw Addae-Mensah, thinking he was part of the corrupt scheme, to thank him for the regular free cash since assuming his new position. The new Regional Auditor, excitingly told the Regional Chief Manager that although at Takoradi, he got free cash as tips, they were not as huge as in Accra West.

William Adu-Ntiamoah and Frank Asiedu were said to have shared sometimes not less than GH¢12,000(¢120 million) to GH¢15,000 (¢150 million) with some persons in the office.

A suspicious Mr. Addae-Mensah ordered for the bank statement on the account from Mr. Adu-Ntiamoah to conduct further checks. Before the order for the statement, Mr. Addae-Mensah was said to have personally requested for a copy of the statement from the bank from January to June this year.

Suspecting their bad deeds were being investigated and may be exposed, William Adu-Ntiamoah decided to expunge details of the monies they had siphoned from the account from the bank statements in an effort to conceal the theft.

The theft is believed to be nationwide, considering the revelation by Mr. Armarh who admitted to Mr. Addae-Mensah that he was getting similar cash from Takoradi.

The Managing Director of GWCL, Kwaku Dovlo, and the Board Chairman have both ordered for a thorough investigation into the case to unravel the extent of the thievery.

Two letters dated July 4, 2013, in the custody of The Herald signed by Mr. Addae-Mensah and sent separately to William Adu-Ntiamoah, and Frank Asiedu for an explanation has confirmed the illegal cash withdrawals.

It said in part that: “it has been revealed through investigations conducted by this office that you together with the Regional Distributions Manager worked together to withdraw large amounts of money from the above mentioned account without the approval of the Regional Chief Manager, under the pretext of providing incentive for the Account and Audit Staff”.

It continued that: “you have deliberately concealed these withdrawals from the Regional Chief Manager by altering the bank statements and using particular cheque book”.

“These withdrawals have denied the region the necessary funds in providing adequate materials for New Service Connection (NSC) activities. Preliminary investigations have revealed that between January to June 2013, you have withdrawn monies in excess of GH¢200,000.00,” adding “your response should reach the undersigned (Regional Chief Manager) within one week of the receipt of this letter”.

The two could not explain the whereabouts of the money, hence were sent home. It is likely they would soon be sent to court to face criminal charges.

Meanwhile, doubts are being expressed about the prosecution of the two officers as one David Addo, who was arrested by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) over the stolen pipes belonging to Ghana Water, is still walking a free man. The casual worker is said to be boasting that no one can jail him.

President John Mahama’s decision to remove Mr. Kweku Botwe from his position as Managing Director now seems to be yielding dividends. Mr. Botwe is currently squatting at the Ministry of Works, Housing and Water Resources without any clear portfolio.

Questions are being asked about his continuous withdrawal of cash from the consolidated fund as a government worker. He was engaged as Deputy Managing Director for a specified period but became acting-Managing Director.

Mr. Botwe, an ex-Project Manager of Home Finance Company (HFC), had applied to be employed as substantive MD, but was turned down and sacked; many are wondering whether the payment of his salaries and other allowance in his capacities as acting-MD is not illegal and financial loss to the state.

Mr. Botwe served under Stephanie Beita-Ansah but had many troubles. He is reported to have been given an ultimatum to either resign or be sacked.

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