General News of Tuesday, 28 February 2017
The Vice President of IMANI Ghana is demanding the dismissal of the accountant of the Public Utilities and Regulatory Commission (PURC) for obeying instructions and transferring more than GHC400,000 into his boss’ personal account.
Kofi Bentil believes no professional accountant will transfer money into a private account without asking serious questions.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on Tuesday, the lawyer wondered the sort of training the accountant had which allowed him to follow instructions without recourse to professional standards of practice.
“I don’t know whether he is a chartered accountant or not, but on this specific question…from what I have heard from the accountant, it tells me that he doesn’t know his job and he should not have his job.”
An investigative report by Joy News’ Kwetey Nartey has revealed some questionable payments made by utilities regulator, PURC.
Audit of the regulators’ financial records showed that some GH¢435, 087, made up of two separate transfers were made into the personal accounts of the Executive Secretary of PURC, Samuel Sarpong.
The money was part of GHC 1, 225, 000 paid by five major utility companies to the PURC for the 2013 tariff review hearings nationwide.
The funds were supposed to be lodged in the account of the PURC, however, documents sighted by Joy News indicate that GHC271, 500 was paid into Mr. Sarpong’s accounts by the company’s accountant, Isaac Assan, who told Joy News the transfer was for a workshop.
When questioned, the accountant said he only obeyed instructions to pay the money into his boss’s account. And that he acted just as any loyal professional employee would.
But Mr Bentil, amazed that the accountant said this, said it didn’t make sense that he just complied with what he was told without doing due diligence.
“A professional does not take improper instruction and effect it because as a professional he knows what is right and what is not. If this accountant was clearly given an order which was improper, illegal and by professional standards should not have been carried out, he should not have carried them out
“At worse, he should have gotten extra cover, proper clearance from maybe one, two, three other people so that it is clear that this thing under the circumstance is acceptable to do.
“But saying that he is just an employee so he has to do anything…if the CEO asks you to go and give money to his mother will you just go ahead and do it,” he queried.
Mr Bentil said the PURC should be investigated thoroughly, the accountant questioned and if anyone did wrong, it should be made clear and measures should be put in place to address it.
Chairman of the Public Interest Accountability Committee, Joe Winful said the behaviour of the accountant is not acceptable in standard practice.
He believes these things happen because public servants are not held accountable for the funds allocated to their institutions.
Because it does not happen, they “get away with murder. The Auditor General comes up with damning reports and we listen to them at the public accounts committee hearing on TV, it becomes part of our entertainment.
“We laugh over it, nothing happens in parliament, nothing happens in the law courts and these monies are gone. At the end of the day we run to the IMF and they tell us it is fiscal indiscipline.”
Mr Winful said the development is simply indiscipline which borders on fraud, corruption and violation of laid down procedure.
He said if the right systems were put in place, no cheque or money would have been transferred without it being properly noted and sanctioned.
These are not monies for the CEO or the finance guy. All expenditures have to be properly authorized and accounted for, he said.
Mr Winful noted that financial management, especially in the public sector has been taken for granted and that if internal controls were properly enforced, this would not have happened.
“The workshop should have been properly sanctioned and approved, most invariably it should have been included in the budget, so when there is a request for release of funds there is going to be a whole bunch of documentation which is going to give a summation of the items forming the amount needed for the workshop.
“And there will be officials who are charged with ensuring that this is done so before the cheque is signed you’re going to see all the supporting documents with the right approval. Because if it gets to one official and the other activity has not been done and authorised by the official, the next person will not go ahead with them so even the cheque will not be issued.
“Much more to try and take instructions from an executive who says pay this amount into my account if I were on that board, that executive would have resigned,” he added.