Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko: My take on Auditor-General matter

May one have ones take on this Auditor General matter? One wishes to take it from a particular angle, if one may:

An impression is being created that the Senior Minister has an interest to hide information about the Kroll Associates contract. It is as if it is a procurement contract for an infrastructural investment or something of that nature which a public official could ordinarily be accused of personal gain. I think it is important we set the parameters of the discussion right as some have already suggested loudly that Daniel Yaw Domelevo is being pushed out of the way because of this contract and his focus on it is “embarrassing” government. Really? If there are other issues embarrassing government that we do not know about please share. But, the matter which is topical is this Kroll engagement and matters arising.

Kroll Associates was engaged by this government in 2017, pretty much from the outset, to undertake proper forensic investigations of some complex cases of allegations of corruption. Such contracts are not new and are not odd to our system. Ironically, Kroll is not complaining that other people in government are frustrating its work. It is, in fact, the Auditor General, constitutionally charged to guard the public purse, who is rather accusing Kroll Associates of being paid for what he sees to be no work done! Here, a team engaged to help us secure public assets, is being accused of being paid for no work done. It sounds serious. But, how serious is this charge? The question is what is the work done or being done? Domelevo wants details! Why isn’t he having them?

Auditor General has been asking for documents of their work to be disclosed to him. Kroll is insisting that their work is highly classified, during investigations, and qualified to be withheld from public scrutiny for the time being. However, they are prepared to disclose them in camera in court. What this suggests is that they have details available but are very reluctant to make them available unless strictly out of open court scrutiny.

The documents to be inspected, as ordered by the Court and carried on last week, are not documents about Osafo Maafo or any other person in this administration. Let’s get that straight. The documents requested are of details of the work done and being done by Kroll to justify fees paid to them! So what personal interest has the Senior Minister in this to even want the Auditor General out of the way, as it has been alleged?

You may ask yourself, why can’t, as it may seem, the Auditor General, appointed just before one government handed over power to another, be trusted with preliminary investigations into the work of that previous government? But will that question be legitimate? Is it that he is not trusted to be fair and just to the previous government? Shouldn’t, under normal circumstances, Kroll be seen as working to compliment the work of the Auditor General instead of having their work questioned by the AG?

It should be recalled that the Akufo-Addo administration, under the expressed supervision of the Senior Minister, contracted reputable auditing firms and other investigation firms to help undertake preliminary but forensic investigations into several of the cases of alleged corruption which emerged when NPP came into office. Their modus operandi being: once they establish a basis per their forensic work, the file is then handed over to a statutory body, like the CID, and subsequently the Attorney General, to take it up from there. It was for this purpose that Kroll Associates, a global leader in forensic intelligence, corruption, bribery and global asset tracing, was engaged. Already some of Kroll’s work has formed the basis of a docket, leading to a criminal trial, such as the alleged €100m bad fertilizer purchase case involving former Cocobod CEO.

To reiterate, you may ask, should the Auditor General rather not see the work of Kroll as complimentary to his constitutional efforts and be cooperating with them or vice versa? This is what is unfortunate about this whole saga. Why is he, instead, accusing Kroll of being paid for allegedly no work done when there is already some evidence in court about the fruits of their labour? Is there a case of power play going on here that we are not ready to see or is it suggested that the President erred in engaging independent investigators and auditors? Is this where the AG’s focus ought to be? Or, has the AG seen something he is not sharing?

These are matters worth looking into and I’m sure the court, provided with all the evidence, will settle this matter. But, to suggest that the Senior Minister or Finance Minister have anything to hide on this Kroll contract when they are not the subjects of investigations but rather those responsible for tasking a team of professionals to help the nation trace assets allegedly procured through corruption actually misses the point by a mile, in ones view.

Simply put, the whole cavil between Daniel Yaw Domelevo and Yaw Osafo Maafo appears to revolve around this Kroll contract. And, if there is more to it then, from ones reading, it is more likely to be in personam than institutionem.

 

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