Corruption Watch discovers GHC10 billion rot in 13 months

In just 13 months, the Corruption Watch programme – an anti-corruption intervention, has reported alleged malfeasance and financial impropriety worth almost 10 billion Ghana cedis.

According to the programme’s analysis, funds approximating GHC9,636,805,092.00 were involved in acts and omissions of some public officials who were caught in acts of malfeasance or malpractice that impugned their office.

The alleged improper behaviours include entity heads breaching thresholds in procurement, manipulation of procurement procedures, contract overpricing, conflict of interest, fraud, theft, and forgery.

The scale of the losses to the state is reflected by the fact that government has pumped a similar amount into fixing the current banking crisis. Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta told parliament in his budget presentation in November that “Rescuing the situation regarding these seven banks has, so far, cost some GH¢9.9 billion in monies that Government had not budgeted for and could have surely been put in good use to fix our numerous infrastructural needs, such as housing, roads, bridges, etc.”

The top five cases that the Corruption Watch programme has featured involve a total of GHC9,578,725,600.00. These cases are the KelniGVG saga, Ameri deal, Ghana Gas Helicopters saga, Central Medical Stores saga and the Auditor General’s disallowances. Table 1 shows the breakdown of these cases.

Excluding the Auditor General’s disallowances, cases involving actual commitment of public funds into alleged corrupt practices comes to a total of GHC4,178,725,600.

In terms of sectors, the top cases of alleged corruption occurred in the communication, health, extractive and finance sectors of the national economy. The energy and environment sectors also saw cases of alleged corruption.

TABLE 1: BREAKDOWN OF TOP FIVE CASES

CASE TITLEAMOUNT INVOLVED (GHC)SECTOR
Special reports on the Auditor General on the Liabilities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as of 20165,400,000,000.00Multiple
Botched revised AMERI deal2,455,242,000.00Energy
Controversial multimillion-dollar KelniGVG contract856,927,600.00Communication
Controversial purchase of four helicopters for Ghana Gas481,420,000.00Extractive
Central Medical Stores Scandal385,136,000.00Health
TOTAL UNCOVERED9,578,725,600.00

Another summary from the programme’s analysis is that since the programme started airing on Joy FM in November of 2017, its own investigations have uncovered and reported alleged acts of corruption involving approximately GHC495,208,852. The amount is the aggregate discovered so far in six cases in the finance, extractive and environment sectors.

Summary of cases

Corruption Watch initiates investigations into cases that come to its attention as well as follow up stories broken by other media to bring closure and advocate reforms.

It has reported on allegations of conflict of interest situations and procurement malpractices in contracts worth about GHC1 million at the National Lottery Authority (NLA).

It also undertook painstaking investigations into how US$100 million (or GHC 481.4 million) was spent on four helicopters for Ghana Gas under controversial circumstances.

Corruption Watch also reported the award of questionable contracts worth more than GHC1.5 million at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

It also carried special reports on the Auditor General’s Report on the Liabilities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as of 2016 in which some people engaged in overpayment and double payment for services that would have resulted in the state losing a whopping GHC5.4 billion.

Among the cases that were broken by other media that Corruption Watch followed up is the botched revised AMERI deal. The original AMERI deal that has been questioned is worth GHC2,455,242,000.00.

Corruption Watch also covered the controversial multimillion-dollar KelniGVG contract that is worth at least GHS856,927,600.00.

The programme has also kept listeners and followers updated on the Ghana Standards Authority alleged bribery involving US$1.2 million or GHS5.77 million and keeps following the US$8 million or GHS38.51 million NCA spy equipment purchase.

The Central Medical Stores Scandal involving at least GHC385 million as well as the banking crisis have also grabbed the programme’s attention.

However, not all of the cases involved grand corruption. There was the case of petty corruption at the Kasoa office of the Electoral Commission. That case mirrored how public officers at the lower level are milking the system. In that case, Harriet Djani was filmed taking an average of GHC35 from voters who needed to replace their Voter ID cards. That amount is 600 percent more than the approved charge of five Ghana cedis.

Corruption Watch also feature one case that gave many people hope. It is the case of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) investigating and recovering at least 11 million Ghana cedis of unpaid taxes from SINOPEC. Sinopec is the Chinese company that constructed the gas processing plant located at Atuabo and operated by the Ghana Gas Company Limited.

Emerging issues

The Corruption Watch programme’s analysis also highlight trends. These include the fact that a majority of the cases shows that grand corruption is pervasive.

The analysis further shows that even when politicians are the culprits of the corruption, they have perpetrated their wrongs with the help of public and civil servants as well as businesspersons.

The programme also observed incidents of influence peddling, abuse of power, conflict of interest and procedural breaches in procurement.

Also, there are so many institutional weaknesses, including inadequate institutional memory and bad record keeping. 

Furthermore, the EC petty corruption case shows that corruption is decentralized.

Resolving the problem

In commemorating the global anti-corruption day, civil society groups pointed out that corruption impedes development aspirations; thus, we must be in hurry to eradicate it. “We are unlikely to meet many of our SDG goals if we fail to act decisively,” said the CSOs.

About Corruption Watch

Corruption Watch is a project that aims at reducing public corruption through transparency and persistency in the fight against corrupt officials from exposure to closure. Its mission is to promote integrity in public life by demanding and activating the responsiveness and accountability of all actors in the anti-corruption space.

The partners in this project work to ensure corruption cases are investigated, suspects prosecuted and proceeds recovered. They seek to make corruption risky and unattractive, and close opportunities which breed corruption. The partners are Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), Africa Centre for international law and Accountability (ACILA), Joy FM and Adom FM.

The writer is an Investigative Journalist with Corruption Watch.  

By Frederick Asiamah