Registrar General’s Department in State vehicles auction scandal

The disappeared vehicles back at RGD
The disappeared vehicles back at RGD
Mrs Jemima Oware, Registrar General

A Corruption Watch (CW) investigation has found that
nine Toyota Hilux pick up state vehicles have been auctioned under questionable
circumstances, with the auctioneer taking one of the vehicles for himself,
sparking immediate action by the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), the
entity the vehicles were assigned to.

Issue
of Location

CW investigations also found that instead of auctioning the nine vehicles at the stated venue on the said day, only two out of the nine vehicles were displayed for the auction. Six disappeared.

One of the two vehicles on the auction day

CW gathered that the six vehicles disappeared from
the premises of the RGD, Accra Central, the venue for the auction, between
October 1 and October 4, with the latest vehicles disappearing just a day
before the auction. One of the vehicles was also auctioned in the Ashanti
Region.

When RGD was contacted about the whereabouts of the seven
vehicles on the auction day, CW was told by the Registrar General, Mrs Jemima
Oware that the vehicles were auctioned at a mechanic’s shop, quoting a response
she had received from the auctioneer.

The nine vehicles, Toyota Hilux pickup vehicles with
registration numbers, GV 618-14, GV 619-14, GV 620-14, GV 621-14, GV 622-14, GV
623-14, GV 626-14, GV 647-14 and GV 631-14 were supposed to be auctioned at the
RGD premises. Only GV 622-14 and GV 619-14 were displayed on the auction day at
the RGD.

CW learnt that the auctioning of the six vehicles at
the mechanic’s shop and Kumasi without notice contravened the law governing
auction sales as the auctioneer is expected by law to state the exact location
for the auction and hold the auction at the said location on the auction day.

According to the Notice of Sale under the Auction
Sales Law, 1989, “A notice of sale shall
state the time and place of the sale and give a catalogue of the goods to be
sold.”

The notice of sale which was advertised in the Saturday,
October 28 and Monday October 30 editions of the Ghanaian Times newspaper mentioned
the premises of the RGD as the only place of sale and not a mechanic’s shop or
a different location in the Ashanti Region.

Unlawful
Taking

In addition, out of the two vehicles displayed on
the auction day, the auctioneer, Torro Matt of Offstar Torro, declared one of
the vehicles for himself through the use of the auctioneer’s hammer/ gavel and allegedly
sold the second vehicle to a lower bidder ignoring the bid by the highest
bidder, a difference of GH¢1,000.00 between the lowest and highest bidder.

 The
auctioneer did not return CW’s calls and WhatsApp/text messages for comments
after several attempts even though he had initially promised to get back to CW
after being contacted.

When CW contacted RGD about the circumstances
surrounding the auctioneers’ action, CW was informed that the auctioneer said
he needed a vehicle for himself and the law gives him the right to take one for
himself, a material misstatement of the law governing auction sales.

Though the auction sales law permits an auctioneer to
declare an item/good for himself at an auction, such taking must be done with
the express permission of the vendor, in this case the Registrar General’s
Department. The auctioneer did not seek the express consent of the RGD, CW
found.

 Under the ‘Duties
of the Auctioneer’ in the Auction Sale Law 1989, “The purchase of any property
at an auction by the auctioneer himself without the vendor’s consent shall be
voidable and may be set aside at the instance of the vendor unless there is
evidence of acquiescence.”

Lack
of Value for Money – Loss to the State

According to CW sources who were present at the
auction, at the open of the auction, the auctioneer announced that he was there
to auction two vehicles and that the highest bidder will win the bid.

Prospective buyers began bidding for the first
vehicle and one of them who had earlier introduced himself as an auctioneer
friend of the auctioneer and who had come to assist him to conduct the auction,
mentioned GH¢9,000.00. Another bidder immediately mentioned GH¢10, 000.00 but
the auctioneer declared the GH¢9,000.00 the winner on the grounds that the
lower bidder made the offer first.

When they moved on to the second vehicle, the
auctioneer is alleged to have announced that there is something called ‘Hammer
take-up’, explaining further that that means, he, the auctioneer could take the
vehicle for himself, adding he doesn’t have a car. He then proceeded to the
take the vehicle for himself.

Misstatement
of Facts in Auction Report

Although only two out of the nine vehicles were
auctioned at the advertised auction venue on the said date, the auctioneer
presented a report to the RGD indicating that all nine vehicles were actioned
and the revenue accrued from the nine vehicles supposedly auctioned paid into
the consolidated account as directed by the office of the Chief of Staff in its
approval letter to RGD for the auction.

The auctioneer was subsequently paid his 7% commission on the sale of the vehicles.

Protest
by Prospective Buyers and RGD Staff at Auction

The turnout of events surrounding the auction caused
protests by some prospective buyers and staff of RGD which eventually sparked
the decision by the Registrar General, Mrs Oware to recall the auctioned vehicles
for re-auctioning.

When CW contacted Mrs Oware, she indicated that
although she was aware of the auction, she could not independently verify what
exactly happened on the said date because she was not in the country, hence her
decision to write to the office of the Chief of Staff for the vehicles to be
recalled for the entire auction process to be redone to ensure transparency.

She added that six out of the nine vehicles have
been returned by the buyers and was optimistic the rest will be returned soon.
Meanwhile, revenue from the auction has already been paid to the Bank of Ghana
and can’t be recalled, hence Mrs Oware disclosed that she will have to refund
the monies of the buyers personally and recover it later after the re-auction.

Meanwhile, checks by CW indicated that the six
vehicles already returned are the six vehicles that disappeared before the
auction day.

The disappeared vehicles back at RGD

Mrs Oware grounded her reason for the recall and
re-run of the auction on the fact that not all the vehicles were made available
at the auction venue on the day of the auction depriving the wider public the opportunity
to participate in the auction.

Meanwhile, when CW enquired about how the auctioneer
got the power to declare one of the vehicles for himself, Mrs Oware said that
the auctioneer said it was his right by law to take one of the vehicles for
himself.

She added that the auctioneer even failed to
announce how much he offered for the vehicles and that the department only got
to know he paid GH¢9,000,00 through the report he presented to the department
after the auction.

She further explained that according to the auctioneer, the six vehicles which were not present at the auction venue were taken to a mechanic’s shop, Dandee Motors, for repairs and they decided to auction them at the mechanic’s shop.

Source: Adomonline.com | Corruption Watch, Ghana | Francisca Enchill

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