General News of Wednesday, 18 February 2015
Source: Graphic Online
Three officials of the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) have been dismissed for the various roles they played in the GH¢1 million fraud at the centre.
They are the Deputy Head of Operations, Ken Kwaku Boadi Asare; the Western Regional Manager, George Owusu Sasu, and the Eastern Regional Credit Officer, Kingsley Boakye.
A fourth official, Marian Ephraim Egyir, has been suspended, a release issued in Accra yesterday by MASLOC in reaction to a Daily Graphic publication on the issue said.
A final report issued by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) indicated that Asare allegedly forged 102 nonexistent business associations to advance GHc1,055,582 to two financial institutions, Rhokida Micro-Finance Limited and Unicorn Happy Investment Limited.
According to the release, a reconciliation of data against monthly loan reports conducted by the management of MASLOC in June 2013 revealed some variances between cheques issued and loan disbursement reports submitted by the regions.
“Based on this revelation, management caused a critical review and monitoring of the loan portfolios affected, which revealed that a number of cheques purported to have been issued were not disclosed in the monthly reports of some regions (that is, the Western and Eastern regions).
“Upon tracing and investigations by management, it was revealed that these undisclosed cheques were cleared through the account of Rhokida Investment Limited maintained at the South Industrial Area Branch of the Merchant Bank, Accra,” it said.
Further investigations by management revealed that funds from that account “were withdrawn by Mr Philip Koufie, a Director and shareholder of Rhokida Investment Limited.
“Further investigations revealed that Mr Asare, the then Deputy Head of Operations, and three (3) other staff, i.e. Mr Kingsley Boakye, Credit Officer, Eastern Region; Mr George Owusu Sasu, Regional Manager, Western Region, and Ms Marian Ephraim Egyir, Credit Officer, Western Region, were implicated in the scam,” the release noted.
It stated that in accordance with Article 26.6 of the Conditions of Service of MASLOC, a disciplinary committee was set up to, among other things, establish the facts and make recommendations to management.
According to the release, aside from the internal measures management took to unravel the fraud, it thought it prudent to report the matter to EOCO for further investigations.
It said management referred the issue to EOCO in December 2013, adding, “EOCO has currently concluded its investigations into the matter and the report is being finalised for onward submission to the Attorney-Generals’ Department for advice.”
EOCO’s final investigative report stated, among other issues, that too much power had been vested in the director of operations.
It also indicted MASLOC for having a poor record-keeping system, but the release from MASLOC rebutted those claims with the explanation that “MASLOC has adequate internal controls in place to mitigate any risks posed to the centre’s operations and that it is these controls that ensured that this scam was unearthed and subsequently reported to EOCO”.
“The board of directors and management of MASLOC further assure the general public that together with EOCO all monies lost by the centre through this scam are being retrieved, as some payments have been made. Further, all efforts are being taken to recover the outstanding monies, including interest, from the perpetrators of this scam,” the release continued.
MASLOC assured the public that it would continue to work assiduously not only to protect the public purse but also expose any of its officers found culpable in the discharge of their daily duties.
It said it would continue to alleviate poverty by creating jobs and improving the lives of the productive poor in society through the advancing of credit facilities.
“In conclusion, it is our fervent hope that when institutions of state put in place internal control mechanisms and/or checks to expose corruption, those institutions should be applauded and not vilified in the press, as is being currently done to MASLOC,” the release added.