The Auditor-General, Daniel Domelevo, says his outfit has engaged the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) to help recover some GHc500 million from individuals and institutions who misappropriated state funds.
The amount involves outstanding amounts surcharged by the Auditor-General.
The Auditor-General has this year alone retrieved some GHc67 million it surcharged persons who could not account for monies they dispensed.
Domelevo in a Citi News interview said they are also liaising with the Office of the Special Prosecutor to prosecute the criminal aspect of such financial infractions.
“We’ve identified individuals who we think expended government money contrary to law. So the GHc67 million is from individuals who have voluntarily paid back those monies. We still have close to GHc500 million in debts and EOCO is happy to go after the culprits and collect those monies on our behalf and the special prosecutor has also shown interest especially in those ones that involve corruption,” he added.
The Auditor General released its Special Audit report on disallowance and surcharge as at November 30, 2018.
The GHc67 million according to the report arose from monies paid back to the State from institutions who committed financial infractions between 2013 and November 2018.
The Auditor-General in the report said the amount was as a result of follow-up on recommendations in its previous reports.
“Our follow-up on the status of implementation of recommendations in the Auditor-General’s reports for the period 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2017, resulted in the recovery of a total sum of GH¢64,559,121.86 from individuals, institutions and companies who committed financial infractions.”
“Similarly, five individuals, institutions and companies who failed to account for a total amount of GH¢3,018,379.72 owed the state for various financial infractions committed prior to the issue of surcharge certificate refunded a total amount of GH¢2,578,398.00 between July 2017 and November 2018, into the Consolidated Fund…to bring the total recoveries to GH¢67,137,517.86,” the report added.
The report also surcharged some persons whose actions led to the State losing some monies.
The report chastised management of some government institutions for failing to do due diligence thus accounting for the huge financial irregularities recorded in the country every year.
“The recurrence of irregularities identified in the Auditor-General’s reports resulting in the disallowance and surcharge is a direct result of low level of commitment by management to comply with the provisions of the laws and weak internal control systems.”
“I therefore urge the Ministry of Finance to strengthen internal controls, monitor and supervise the activities of officers and impose sanctions on officers who commit such infractions to deter others from committing same,” the report added.
Over GHc40 billion lost in ‘irregularities
A study conducted by pressure group, Occupy Ghana on reports of the Auditor General revealed that the State between 2003 and 2014, over GHc40 billion was lost due to “irregularities” arising from Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
Occupy Ghana subsequently went to the Supreme Court over the issue and had a ruling in its favour ordering the Auditor General to surcharge persons and institutions whose actions led to the State losing huge sums of monies yearly.
GHc5.4 billion wrongfully paid
A 2016 audit of the finances of the various ministries, departments and agencies, revealed that some state agencies engaged in unlawful monetary practices.
The Auditor General, Daniel Domelevo had also earlier disclosed that, some GHc5.4 billion was wrongfully paid to contractors and other service providers by officials at the various ministries between 2014-2017.
Domelevo said he has disallowed such payments, and has recommended prosecution of the officials who presided over same.
62 firms surcharged by Auditor General
62 organizations were in 2017 surcharged by the Auditor for receiving payments from the state without any documentation as proof.
The surcharge certificates totaling GHc8,886,791.910 covered the period between December 31, 2013 and December 31, 2015.
The companies, mostly private organizations, also included some state institutions and staff of some government agencies.
Give me prosecutorial powers
The Auditor-General in February 2018, said he had applied to the Attorney General to grant him powers to prosecute persons indicted in the Auditor General’s report.
Mr. Domelevo said “…if a fiat is given by the Attorney General to Audit Service just like it has been given to the police and others to prosecute…which I have actually applied for, you will see me in action.”
But so many months after the request, it is unclear whether his appeal has been granted or not.