Friday, 04 December

Martin Amidu resigns as Special Prosecutor

Politics
President Nana Akufo-Addo (L) taking a walk with Mr Martin Amidu (R)

Mr Martin Amidu has resigned from office as the Special Prosecutor.

He addressed his letter of resignation to President Nana Akufo-Addo.

According to him, his decision is to “enable Your Excellency to take steps to appoint a replacement to that position as required by law.”

“The one condition upon which I accepted to be nominated as the Special Prosecutor when you invited me to your Office on 10 January 2018 was your firm promise to me that you will respect and ensure same by your government for my independence and freedom of action as the Special Prosecutor,” he stated.

Hours before his resignation, Mr Amidu issued a statement on Monday, 16 November 2020, revealing that the now-sacked CEO of the Public Procurement Authority, Mr Adjenim Boateng Adjei, wired into his bank accounts GHS15,691,559.30, USD4,467,655.00 and €54,500.00 between 2017 and 2019 rather than the amounts stated by the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ): (USD Account – $516,225.00; Cedi Account – GHS3.83 million; Euro Account – €54,500; UMB Bank: $110,000), based on which President Nana Akufo-Addo terminated Mr Adjei’s appointment a few weeks ago.

Mr Amidu also revealed that the investigators in his office who were working on the case, compromised themselves.

Journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni was the first to unearth corrupt deals against the PPA boss in 2019 through a documentary titled ‘Contracts For Sale’, which compelled the President to refer the matter to CHRAJ and the Office of the Special Prosecutor for separate investigations.

In the exposé, a company allegedly owned by the PPA CEO, Talent Discovery Limited (TDL), was found to be getting many government contracts through restrictive tendering and selling those contracts to others for profit.

Among other things, the CHRAJ report said: “The evidence also established a pattern of movement of large volumes of cash through the Respondent’s bank accounts between March 2017 and August 2019, far in excess of his known income (Stanbic Bank: USD Account – $516,225.00; Cedi Account – ¢3.83 million; Euro Account – EU54,500; UMB Bank: $110,000). The Respondent could not offer a satisfactory explanation to the source of that huge volume of cash that passed through his bank account between March 2017 and August 2019 (unexplained wealth).

“The totality of the evidence showed that the Respondent had put himself in a position where his personal interest (financial and relational) conflicted with the performance of the functions of his office as CEO and Board Member of PPA.”

It noted that Mr Adjei “put himself in several positions where his personal, relational, and pecuniary interest in TDL and other companies actually conflicted with the performance of the functions of his office as CEO and Board Member of PPA. The Commission holds that the Respondent has contravened article 284 of the 1992 Constitution.”

“The Respondent, being the CEO of PPA, the Regulator of the procurement sector, the Commission is of the strong and considered view that he has gravely abused his high office of trust, and the appropriateness and proportionality of any action to be taken by the Commission must be commensurate with the gravity of the abuse.”

CHRAJ noted further that: “the Respondent is unfit to hold public office and is therefore disqualified from holding any public office for a period of five years. Accordingly, it is hereby directed that no appointing authority of the State should engage or appoint the Respondent (Mr Adjenim Boateng Adjei) into any public office howsoever described for the said five (5) year period beginning from the date of this decision.”

It added that: “Primarily, this investigation was initiated on the basis of conflicts of interest allegations. In the course of the investigation, however, the Commission came across evidence of seeming unethical practices by the company TDL, the company owned by the Respondent and his brother-in-law. In the circumstances, the Commission is constrained to refer the evidence of the seeming unethical practices of TDL to the Registrar of Companies and the PPA for further investigation and appropriate action.”

While commending CHRAJ for its probe, Mr Amidu pointed out that the amounts involved were understated by the Commission.

“The Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) ought to be commended for their report. The only problem with the CHRAJ report is that, for some reason, it understates the amounts disclosed by the bank statements from the three banks accounts of Mr Adjei exhaustively reviewed by the Auditor-General for this Office”.

Read Mr Amidu’s full statement below:

AN UPDATE ON THE REFERRAL OF ALLEGATIONS OF CORRUPTION AGAINST THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE PUBLIC PROCUREMENT  AUTHORITY BY THE PRESIDENCY TO THE OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL  PROSECUTOR

The Secretary to the President, in a letter with reference number OSP127 VOL.3/19/1141 dated 22nd August 2019 referred allegations of corruption against the Chief Executive Officer (C. E. 0.) of the Public Procurement Authority to this Office for investigation.

At the time of this referral from the Presidency the Special Prosecutor had already independently gathered intelligence on the matter of procurement malpractices by Mr Adjenim Boateng Adjei, the C. E. 0. of the Public Procurement Authority and had also been provided with facts and materials from other sources, particularly from the Audit Service and the Registrar of Companies.

I accordingly informed the Secretary to the President in this Office's letter with reference number OSP/SCR/2c/5/19 dated 22nd August 2020 and stated, inter alia that: "...Consequently, when I read on Ghana Web on the night of 21st August 2019 a news report of Mr Manasseh Azure Awuni's investigative work I called him up to congratulate him and to inform him that it was a matter the Auditor-General and I had been handling collaboratively for some time now. He told me he had also hinted the Auditor-General about his investigation."

At the time of the referral by the Office of the President to this Office, this Office had also independently invited Mr Adjenim Boateng Adjei to report to this Office on 29th August 2019 to assist the on-going investigations.

I referred the actual investigation of the procurement malpractices to the Acting Head of Investigations of this Office.

I froze the bank accounts of all the suspects together with their legal entities. This Office secured the bank statements of Mr Adjenim Boateng Adjei, his brother-in-law Mr Francis Arhin, and other suspects. The bank statements were made available to the Acting Head of Investigations for further action. I then sent a soft copy of the bank statements by way of referral to the Auditor-General who was collaborating with this Office in the investigation of the procurement malpractices for analysis to assist the investigation.

The Auditor-General, in a letter with reference number AG/01/19/123 of 4th November 2019 under the subject title of: "Review of Bank Statements of Mr Adjenim Boateng Adjei for the Period 01/01/2017 -31/08/2019" forwarded to this Office his review of the bank statements. (I saw published online a scanned letter without reference number dated 25th October 2019 from the auditors who conducted the review addressed to the Auditor-General whose content is the same as the letter from the Auditor- General to the Special Prosecutor above).

I also arranged with the Auditor-General to send down the auditors who conducted the review of the bank statements to assist the investigators of this Office to understand the issues clearly.

The review of the bank statements was passed on to the investigators through the Acting Head of Investigations.

The staff of the Audit Service who reviewed the bank statements of Mr Adjei after their first meeting with the Acting Head of Investigation and the case officer would not come back to assist the investigations.

When I pressed the matter of the reluctance of the Staff of the Audit Service to assist the further investigation of the case, the Auditor-General informed me that his staff had reported to him that they could not work with my investigators on the case. I conveyed the information to the investigators and wanted to know what the problem had been. They said they did not know of any problem.

In the interim, it was becoming apparent from the manner the investigations were being conducted by the staff of seconded investigators to this Office that two of them were compromised because the Acting Head of Investigations and the case officer used less than one hour to search the premises of Talent Discovery Limited (TDL), Mr Adjei's residence, and Mr. Francis Arhin's residence and literally found no material exhibits. Not even a telephone or iPad. Further intelligence disclosed that one of the investigators was in constant communication with one of the lawyers of the suspects. I raised the matter with the investigators at management meetings.

Eventually, when I got the Auditor-General several months down the line to be candid with me on why his staff refused to collaborate with the two investigators in the case, he informed me that his staff reported to him that when they first met with my staff they were told by my seconded staff investigators that the case was so good that each of them could benefit from it. I confronted the Acting Head of Investigations with the facts but he flatly denied them. But the same scenario was playing in other cases such as three very serious on-going investigations at the National Lotteries Authority, for suspected commission of corruption and corruption-related offences.

Most on-going investigations were being unduly delayed for no apparent reasons in spite of constant reminders from the Special Prosecutor. The resolution of the Adjenim Boateng Adjci case was taking too long to investigate because my seconded staff investigators appeared compromised. I, therefore, asked for an interim report to be submitted to the President on the referral on the Adjenim Boateng Adjei case. When the first draft report was submitted to me, I felt scandalized. I called a management meeting on 10th August 2020 with the investigators' and pointed out how the incriminating evidence in their possession were inconsistent with their interim report. I suspended all on-going investigations in all cases except those affecting pending cases in Court. I tasked the investigators to tabulate within one week the total deposits Mr Adjci had made into his bank accounts. This is still outstanding to date. On the same day, 10th August 20201 wrote a memorandum to the Acting Head of Investigation expressing my concerns. In this memorandum, I stated inter alia that: "If you did your calculations and analysis you will come out with the following closing balance of deposits for Mr Adjei from 2017 to 19 August 2019:

              CEDIS                                    USD                            EUROS

Total:  15,691,559.30                 4,467,655.00                   54,500.00

You will also see that the monthly deposits/receipts into Mr Adjei's Account between 2015 and 2016 ranged from GHS9,000.00 to GEISI 18,000.00 and $200 to $1000.00."

My Office never started the investigations into the "Contracts for Sale" allegations because of the attitude of the investigators into the on-going investigation into the procurement malpractices the Office was handling before the referral from the Presidency and this explains why Mr Manasseh Azure has still not been invited to make a witness statement. (I attach herewith a review of the bank statements of Mr Adjenim Boateng Adjei excluding the names of persons who handled the transaction in the three banks to show the real deposits made into his bank accounts during his two and half years in office at the Public Procurement Authority).

On 21' September 2020 when this matter of the interim report to the Presidency was delaying unduly I conveyed the above figures electronically to update the Presidency. I had instructed the Deputy Special Prosecutor on this matter in a letter with reference number OSP/SCR/21)/40/20 dated 3 September 2020, and copied the Board Chairperson with the figures clearly stated to keep the Chairperson of the Board informed.

I have stated at page 54 of my analysis of the risk of corruption and anti-corruption assessment of the "Agyapa Royalties Limited Transactions and Other Related Matters Thereto" report that: "'this Office also has on-going investigations against Adjenim Boateng Adjei, former Chief Executive Office of the Public Procurement Authority, the National Lotteries Authority, and Charles Bissue. The Members of Parliament Vehicle Loan Affair, which affects Members of Parliament from both sides of Parliament is still pending a decision whether or not to prosecute due to unjustifiable delay by seconded staff in carrying out instructions for clarification of certain pertinent issues. The delays have in the main been actuated the fact that no staff has been independently employed by this Office due to lack of sheer physical office space, resulting in the use of staff on short duration secondment whose commitment depends on how their main employers stay away from interfering with the work of this Office's during their short tenure."

Nobody should ask me about my disciplinary authority over my seconded stall because I have had none since I assumed the Office and those who needed to know have had knowledge of this fact for years. The documentary evidence is overwhelming. The Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CGRAJ) ought to be commended for their report. The only problem with the CHRAJ report is that for some reason it understates the amounts disclosed by the bank statements from the three banks accounts of Mr Adjei exhaustively reviewed by the Auditor General for this Office.

Source: ClassFMonline.com