General News of Monday, 5 November 2018
The Accra High Court has ordered the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to release the passport of Caleb Kwaku Afaglo, a former Head of Management and Information Systems (MIS) at the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) who, together with four others, are standing trial for the $66 million SSNIT Operational Business Suite (OBS) scandal.
EOCO seized the passport of Afaglo on April 18, 2017 during investigations into the scandal.
In a ruling last Friday, the court, presided over by Mr Justice Henry Kwofie, held that the accused person had already been granted an unconditional bail by the court and therefore there was no need for EOCO to continue to keep his passport.
The ruling by the court followed an application by lawyers of the accused.
The other four accused persons standing trial in relation to the scandal are — Mr Ernest Thompson, the immediate past Director – General of SSNIT, John Hagan Mensah, a former IT Manager at SSNIT; Juliet Hassana Kramer, the CEO of Perfect Business Systems (PBS); and Peter Hayibor, the lawyer for SSNIT.
They have been charged with a total of 29 counts for allegedly causing financial loss of more than $14 million to the state in relation to the alleged scandal.
They have pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The facts, as presented by the Attorney-General, Ms Gloria Akuffo, were that in June 2010, SSNIT commenced the OBS project, which is software meant to revolutionise the operations of the Trust through ICT.
She explained that the objective of the project was to automate all of SSNIT’s core processes in the administration of pension and “Integrate all internal systems, as well as external stakeholders of SSNIT’’.
According to her, SSNIT, through an advertisement, invited companies to engage in competitive bidding for the project contract.
“Although an entity described as Perfect Business System Limited (PBS) did not participate in the bidding, on November 15, 2012, the contract was awarded jointly to Silverlake, a Malaysian Information Technology (IT) solutions provider, and PBS as a consortium at a contract sum of $34,011,914.21,’’ she said.
The A-G said contrary to the terms of the contract, Thompson, Kramer and Afaglo played various roles which made SSNIT to make payments to PBS for items which were already covered in the contract sum.
“This ballooned the contract sum of $34,001,914.21 to $66,783,148 through what was termed variously as ‘change orders’ and ‘variations’.
“The so-called variations or change orders were carried out at the instance of A1 (Thompson), A2 (Mensah), A3 (Kramer) and A4 (Afaglo) and authorised by A1 (Thompson), even though some of the payments were above his threshold as director-general and contrary to the Public Procurement Act,’’ she said.
More alleged infractions
Ms Akuffo further stated that on January 15, 2016, SSNIT entered into an agreement with the consortium executing the project for maintenance works on the project for three years at the sum of $2,570,976.41 per annum.
According to her, although the maintenance and warranty agreement was executed in 2016, “payment started in September 1, 2014 when no such service had been rendered at the time’’.
Investigations established that although the OBS system was not performing as efficiently as contracted for, A1 (Thompson) gave authorisation for various payments which culminated in the losses.
“Investigations also indicated that PBS purportedly represented by A3 (Kramer), is a non-existent company,’’ she said.
According to the A-G, investigations also revealed that Afaglo “relied on certificates purporting to be educational certificates he did not possess’’ to gain employment at SSNIT as its General Manager for MIS on October 1, 2015.