Exposed: Ghosts pay ghosts at AG dept.

General News of Thursday, 22 January 2015

Source: The Chronicle

Grace Adzroe Controller

Officially, about 600,000 workers are on the payroll of the Government of Ghana, consuming over 74% of the revenue generated by the state. Evidence is, however, emerging that not all of these workers are in active service, and that the figure might have been bloated through machinations.

KPMG, an internationally acclaimed auditing firm contracted by the government, had already blown the cover of most of these fraudulent activities. Among them are workers who are a hundred years old and above, but are still on the payroll and receiving monthly salaries. Some of the workers too have suspicious account numbers such as ‘0’, ‘+’ which defy modern accounting.

The latest revelation, The Chronicle can report, is that some unscrupulous people at the Controller and Accountant General’s Department (CAGD) were inputting data into the IPPD2 payroll software, formerly used by the government, without leaving any auditing trail. In short, the data fed into the system did not contain information about who put that data in, and when it was entered.

In a letter to the Controller and Accountant General, dated February 12, 2010, a copy of which has been sighted by The Chronicle, SOFTtribe, an Information Communication Technology (ICT) firm contracted by the government to develop a new payroll software, warned of the dire consequences if the practice was not halted.

The letter, which was signed by its Chief Executive Officer, Tetteh Antonio, noted: “In the event that fraudulent data is entered into the system, nobody can be held accountable. (Ghost names, undue allowances…).

“Hypothetically, if it was shown that in the IPPD2 system, certain staff were being promoted before the payroll run, paid accordingly to their new higher grade, and then brought back to their true grade after the payroll run; all this could happen without a hope of ever catching the responsible user, unless by sheer luck.

“Essentially, as things stand today, if payroll fraud is identified and can be demonstrated to have originated from the computer system, there would be no way to pinpoint the culprit, and, therefore, no staff member can be indicted for the crime. The guilty party will essentially be walking away scot-free.”

It was also detected that the original amount of loans taken by workers are not kept, therefore, no loan history is available. This means that: a) “Loans may not be recovered fully, (b) In the event of a loan dispute with a staff member, there is no basis for the GoG to counter the staff member’s refusal to repay the loan. (c) Additionally, loans payments can be paid out against non-existent loans, and the payment records destroyed after the fact,” the ICT firm warned.

SOFTtribe also detected that sometimes the amount on the pay slip of the worker did not match the actual cash going to the banks. To SOFTtribe; “this is a very strong indicator of system malfunction or the presence of fraudulent activities, and should trigger alarm bells every time it happens.”

The Chronicle also established that some of the active staff on the payroll were not being paid. SOFTtribe, in its initial report, concluded that: “It is more likely these individuals were left on the system after termination, but this issue may provide opportunity for fraud, as an unscrupulous user can reactivate payment, which results in new ghost names.”

Sources at the Ministry of Finance told The Chronicle that it was based on some of these fraudulent activities on the payroll that the former Minister of Finance, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, wrote a letter to the Controller and Accountant General’s Department, advising it to migrate all workers onto the new ‘Akatua’ software, which was fraud-proof, to save money for the state, but his letter was overlooked.

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