04 June 2014, Accra – THE SOLE Commissioner, Justice Yaw Appau, has expressed shock over how the Bank of Ghana, BoG, paid a staggering GH¢780,000 Adaklu and Abotia lands compensation into an account named Government None Road Arrears Account, without details of the beneficiaries involved.
According to him, the conduct of the BOG could lead to the manipulation of the system. The obviously unhappy Justice Apau told the BoG officials that he did not understand why government officials should open account with names like ‘Government None Road Arrears Account’ and ‘Special Judgment Debt Account’, but use them for different purposes.
According Justice Appau, when the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) appeared before the Commission, he was made to understand that a special account, by name of Special Judgment Debt Account, existed, but when the BoG officials also appeared before the Commission, they flatly denied the existence of the said account. He said: “You would see accounts like Special Judgment Debt Account in which the monies that go through it are not judgment debt monies.”
The Sole Commissioner made the observation when a representative of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) appeared before him yesterday to produce documents on the recipients of the said Adaklu and Abotia lands compensation. The Deputy Director of Banking Service, Leslie Akrong, told the Commission that his outfit acted upon authorisation from the Controller and Accountant General’s Department to pay the GH¢789,080 to an account named Government None Road Arrears Account.
When asked by the Sole Commissioner who the recipients of the money were, Mr. Akrong said his outfit was not privy to that information, but only acted upon instructions. He said the BoG was asked to transfer the money on December 22, 2009 by the Controller and Accountant General’s Department, without the details of who the beneficiaries of the monies were. Mr. Akrong submitted exhibits of payments to the said account to the Commission.
Meanwhile, the GNA also reports that the Judgement Debts Commission is looking into the matter of the payment of GH¢3,217, 632 judgement debt by the state to the Carmichael Family, in respect of the Aveyime Livestock Project in the Volta Region. Mr. Leslie Akrong, Assistant Director at the Banking Department of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), on Monday, told the Commission that the bank, on April 20, 2009, received a letter dated January 8, 2009 from the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department (CAGD), instructing it to transfer GH¢3,217,632 from the government’s main account to the account of the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General’s Department for the payment of judgement debt to the Carmichael Family.
He said it took the bank sometime to process the request, and by May 4, 2009, the money was transferred. Mr. Akrong, however, explained that the money was initially quoted in dollars, but was to be paid in cedis, and as at the time of effecting the transfer, inflation had affected the amount, leading to a shortfall of GH¢530,628.44. He said the bank wrote again to the CAGD to explain the situation, adding that the Department again wrote to them, authorising them to transfer the said amount from the government’s main account into the account of the Ministry of Finance, for payment to be effected, to which the BoG again complied.
Mr. Akrong presented copies of documents to the Commission, in which a letter dated January 6, 2009, and signed by Mr. Justice VCRAC Crabbe, Statues Law Commissioner, and addressed to the then Minister of State for Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, stating that the President had authorised the payment of the judgement debt to the Carmichael Family. He said, acting on instructions from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the CAGD then wrote to the BoG, authorising the payment.
Mr. Justice Yaw Apau, Sole Commissioner of the Judgement Debt Commission, said as at now, there was no evidence as to whether the said payment was a judgement debt or a land compensation payment, and wondered why the then President, who had a day to leave office, would be authorising such a payment. He, again, wondered why it took four months for a letter to travel from the CAGD to the BoG, the two institutions, which are all within Accra, adding that the delay on the part of the bank to honour the payment also led to the state paying more debt.
The Sole Commissioner said state institutions must be allowed to do their work independently without governmental interference. Mr. Kofi Dometi Sokpor, Counsel for the Commission, wanted to know why the Carmichael Family, who were Ghanaians, had the compensation payment in dollars. To this, Mr Akrong replied that the BoG was only complying with directives from the CAGD.In the matter of the payment of compensation to Christopher Michael of the Aveyime Livestock Project, the Counsel asked Mr. Akrong to explain the difference between Christopher Michael and the Carmichael Family.
Mr. Akrong, in his response, said the two were different people, and that the BoG had another letter from the CAGD instructing the bank to pay $240,000 to Christopher Michael, through a bank in the United Sates. He said a component of $240,000 was paid to Mr. Reginald Achis, who he said, according to their investigations, was the Solicitor for both the Carmichael Family and Christopher Michael.
*Maame Agyeiwaa Agyei-The Chronicle