Pressure is mounting on the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Charlotte Osei, to reinstate a senior officer she asked to proceed on leave over alleged misappropriation of the commission’s staff welfare fund.
Joseph Kwaku Asamoah, EC’s Director of Finance, has vowed to sue the commission if Mrs Osei does not rescind the decision, claiming that he’s being wrongly accused.
He has caused his lawyer, Akoto Ampaw, of Akufu-Addo and Prempeh Chambers, to write to Ms. Osei demanding his re-instatement, otherwise he would resort to the court of law for redress.
Before the ongoing scandal at the commission in which Mrs. Osei stands accused of abuse of office and corruption by some concerned EC staff exploded, the topical issue at the commission was the purported misappropriation of staff welfare fund.
Georgina Opoku-Amankwah, a Deputy Commissioner in-charge of Corporate Services, together with Kwaku Owusu Agyei-Larbi, Chief Accountant and Joseph Asamoah, Finance Officer, were asked to proceed on leave over reported missing GH¢480,000 belonging to the workers.
The decision to interdict the officers commenced when the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) wrote to the commission that it had taken over the case and that “the suspects are assisting investigations.”
However, the suspended Finance Officer’s lawyers said their client demonstrated before the EOCO with ample documentary evidence that he had nothing to do with the subject matter.
“Our client, Dr. Joseph Kwaku Asamoah, has absolutely nothing to do with the matter and should not be made a scapegoat of any boardroom struggles engulfing the commission.
“We are accordingly instructed to demand you to recall our client from the imposed leave to enable him continue his normal work as Director of Finance of the Commission. Should you fail to do so, we would be compelled to initiate legal proceedings against you to protect our client against any form of victimization and injustice,” Mr Akoto-Ampaw stated.
The lawyer then attached documents, including letters that showed that their client was innocent, a letter from the Controller and Accountant General to the Bank of Ghana, as well as the EC’s Audit Report on the Endowment Fund, which they say were ample evidence clearing Mr. Asamoah.
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 Schemes.
According to the EC, the schemes included Endowment, Retirement and Funeral and the Board, under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Chairman (Finance and Administration) and assisted by commission members, 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, the Local Trade Union and 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.
According to the commission, the Funeral Scheme has Director, Senior Staff Representative, Local Union Representative and a Co-opted Member as its composition and that the commission invested their contributions with NDK Financial Services.
According to the EC, the Endowment Committee was supposed to receive monthly deductions of members of staff contributions from the cash office of the commission, for onward submission to NDK Financial Services for investment.
“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 benefits, excluding the interest, on the un-invested funds and this left gaps in the computation of individual staff member’s contribution.”
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 cheque No. 922744 meant for payment into the Fund for the month of November 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.”
By William Yaw Owusu