General News of Friday, 7 July 2017
Three top Electoral Commission (EC) officials, including a deputy commissioner, have been interdicted over the commission’s staff welfare fund.
Georgina Opoku Amankwaah, a Deputy Commissioner in-charge of Finance and Administration together with Kwaku Owusu Agyei-Larbi, Chief Accountant and Joseph Asamoah, a Finance Officer, have been asked to proceed on leave over a missing GH¢480,000 belonging to the workers.
A letter from the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) signed by ACP K.K. Amoah (rtd.), acting Executive Director of EOCO, says it had taken over the case, explaining that “the suspects are assisting in investigations.”
In the letter dated July 4, 2017, addressed to the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, EOCO said it was investigating “the loss of about GH¢480,000 from the Endowment Fund at the Electoral Commission.
“The office would be grateful if you would direct the officers listed above to proceed on leave whilst investigation proceeds,” the EOCO letter requested from the EC Chairman, Charlotte Osei.
Pursuant to the EOCO letter, Ms Charlotte Osei wrote to Mrs Opoku Amankwaah asking her to proceed on leave “immediately” and directed her to “kindly forward any pending issues to the office of the Chairperson.
“As you are aware, EOCO is investigating the loss of about GH¢480,000 from the Staff Endowment Fund. Pursuant to the said investigation, EOCO has requested that I direct you to proceed on leave while the investigation proceeds,” the EC chair said in the letter.
Ms Osei said, “This is to ensure the integrity of the investigation,” adding, “During the period of your leave, please, be advised that you are not to undertake any business on behalf of the commission or access any information from the commission until the investigations are concluded.”
The EC Staff Welfare Schemes were inaugurated on 5th June, 2009 to cater for the welfare of those working for the commission and a 13-member board of administrators was set up to administer the management of the Welfare Schemes.
According to the EC, the schemes are ?for Endowment, ?Retirement and ?Funeral and the Board under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Chair (Finance and Administration) and assisted by the Commission member, had its first meeting on 17th June, 2009 and members were appointed to serve on the various schemes.
The EC said the Board has a representation from the Commission, the Directors, Senior Staff Association and the Local Trade Union of the Commission as well as two other co-opted members.
It said the schemes had been composed such that the ?Endowment Fund has the Director (Finance), Chief Accountant and Local Union Representative as the members while the ?Retirement Scheme has Director (Human Resource and General Services), Senior Staff Representative, Local Union Representative and a Co-opted Member as its composition.
The commission said the ?Funeral Scheme has Director, Senior Staff Representative, Local Union Representative and a Co-opted Member making its composition and that the commission invested the contributions with NDK Financial Services.
According to the EC, the Endowment Committee was supposed to receive monthly deductions of members of staff for onward submission to NDK Financial Services.
“The audit team identified during the audit that there was non-release of funds (i.e. staff deductions) by the commission to the Fund Managers for onward submission to NDK Financial Services for the period covering March 2014 to October 2014 and this amounted to Four Hundred and Eighty Thousand, One Hundred and Seventy-Seven Ghana Cedis and Eighty-Seven Pesewas. This denied existing members and also retirees of interest on funds if it had been invested for the period stated,” an internal audit report revealed.
“Additionally, those on retirement received their benefit excluding the interest on the un-invested funds and this left gaps in the computation of individual staff member’s contribution,” according to the report.
The report said that the audit team noted that monthly cheques issued to the Fund were released very late and in some cases, were never released at all.
“For example, a cheque of GH¢47,754.54 with cheques no. 922744 meant for payment into the fund for the month of Nov 2012 was issued on 31/12/2012, being one month after its due date. Such late submission of cheques denied contributors to the fund the opportunity to earn any interest income had the monies been received and invested earlier,” it indicated.