The Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), an institution mandated to fight financial crime and corruption in Ghana, has admitted that it had used funds seized from people it is investigating to ran the organisation.
Executive Director of the state sponsored investigative body, Mortey Akpadzi, however, claims he stopped the phenomenon as soon as he took office.
According to Mr. Akpadzi, the financial impropriety was perpetrated when the government subvention for running the organization delayed.
“There was something that was happening when they [EOCO]were expecting government subvention and it wasn’t coming, we will use it and when the subvention come, they will replenish it.” he admitted in an interview with Citifmonline.
According to Mr. Akpadzi, he “insisted that it is wrong, so we will never touch it under any circumstances, and it has never happened under my watch”.
He also insisted things have changed “because we are putting in institutional measures to prevent it, even after I leave.”
The issue of tempering with the exhibit account of EOCO came up for discussion at the sitting of the Public Accounts Committee.
EOCO has for the past few years struggled to maintain a reputation befitting a national investigative body, as it has been involved in many questionable activities in the recent past, some of which The Chronicle had investigated.
In March, last year, The Chronicle conducted investigations into circumstances that lead the EOCO to abandon an investigation into procurement issues at GETfund.
It was, however, revealed that a deputy staff officer at the EOCO, Mr. Gideon Delali Deklu, who was assigned by his boss to investigate the questionable procurements, managed to secure for himself a scholarship from the institution it was investigating, to pursue a three year Bachelor of Law studies at the prestigious Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), when investigations into the matter have not yet been concluded.
GETFund confirmed to The Chronicle that “Mr. Deklu, indeed, has secured sponsorship from the GETFund and that he did not secure same under any special circumstances, other than what is available to every applicant, and is consistent with the objectives of the GETFund.”
Again, this paper in August, last year, broke a story on how a Fidelity Bank account, belonging to a Film producer was frozen and cleared by EOCO.
After a court order for the account to be de-frozen to allow the client to have access to his cash, the bank went begging EOCO, so it could honour the court order
A letter from the bank to EOCO demanding the money stated: “We attach a letter dated 30th July 13, 2013, received on 31st July 13, 2013, from Boahene Asare & Associates, Solicitors of the above named customer, whose account was frozen on a court order dated 10th July 2012, and would appreciate your kind confirmation of the Order attached.
“We also request that you return the funds – USD 40,000.00 – which you requested per your letter EOCO/ED/054/V.39/09, dated 28th August 2012, and for which we issued a Bank of Ghana draft NO. 549377 1027231342019, per our letter dated 19th September 2012, and received by your outfit on 20th September 2012, at 11.46 a.m. by one Salifu Saaka. We shall appreciate your early response/confirmation to enable us accede to the court order.”
In the layman’s language, Fidelity Bank was asking EOCO to return the said US$40,000 the security outfit took from the bank. The man in question has since not had access to his account.
For the records, The Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) was set up by Act 804 of 2010, in line with Article 190 (1((d) of the 1992 constitution as one of the Public Services of Ghana, to supplement and augment government’s effort in the fight against corruption in the State.
The Office was established as a specialized agency of government to monitor, investigate and on the authority of the Attorney-General, prosecute any offence involving serious financial and economic loss to the state and to make provision for connected and incidental purposes.