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Illegal payments of GH¢1.5m: PAC refers Red Cross to A-G for prosecution

The Ghana Red Cross Society (GRCS) has been referred to the Office of the Attorney-General (A-G) for prosecution for failing to recover il­legal payments amounting to about GH¢1.5 million to some members of staff and suppliers.

The Public Accounts Commit­tee (PAC) of Parliament made the referral after concluding that the management of RCS had failed to duly implement recommendations contained in the 2021 Audi­tor-General’s report.

Per the report, the manage­ment was expected to retrieve GH¢787,608.00, which was depos­ited into unauthorised accounts in the name of the Ghana Red Cross Madina, with unauthorised signatories.

The management was also to recover an unaccounted GH¢274,436.33, which formed part of the GH¢3,731,596.90 trans­ferred by Mastercard Foundation into the Central Regional Office’s bank account on June 17, 2020, in support of the national society’s COVID-19 response programme.

The management was also directed by the report to recov­er GH¢522,901.20 losses, which were realised due to procurement infractions and non-supply of goods procured with funds from the Mastercard Foundation.

Chairman of PAC, James Kutse Avedzi, made the call in Accra when the management of the Ghana Red Cross Society appeared before the committee.

He said delays in the recovery of the funds would not deter others from engaging in similar financial mismanagement.

The committee, the chairman ex­plained, is expecting that all heads of management set out the mech­anism and roadmap to implement recommendations and retrieve misappropriated funds as cited in the report.

Failure to do that, Mr. Avedzi said, was likely to lead to reoccur­rence of the infraction in future audit processes.

As a counter to rising mis­management of procurement processes, he noted that the committee had decided to refer all procurement infractions to the Office of the Attorney-General for onward prosecution of the officers involved.

Mr. Avedzi asked the Red Cross to improve its financial manage­ment practices and accountability to encourage the citizenry to do­nate towards its operations.

“You are a very important organization especially when a di­saster occurs. In this regard, many out there are ready and willing to support you financially to be able to do your work. But if this is how you want to manage people’s con­tribution, how do you expect them to support you,” he said.

Solomon Gayoni Gbolo, acting Secretary General of the GRCS, noted that his outfit was awaiting the conclusion of police investiga­tion in two issues to determine the next course of action.

He stated that some officers of the Society, who were cited for wrongdoing in the report have been dismissed while assets includ­ing a vehicle had been confiscated with the support of the police.

READ ALSO:I Never Authorized Payment of $2m to Fund Accra Sky Train Project – Joe Ghartey Clears Air

The Society, Mr. Gbolo said, was deeply concerned about misappli­cation and misuse of donor funds, saying that “we are working dili­gently to resolve all the issues that have been flagged in the report.”

Meanwhile, the Forestry Com­mission had been advised to be proactive in the recovery of its debts to reduce its non-recoverable debt portfolio.

According to the committee, it was unacceptable that the commis­sion was cumulatively owed about GH¢6 million with some of the debt being in existence for close to 20 years.

Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, John Allotey, said, about GH¢3.2 million had been recovered while it was engaging the Ministry of Finance on how the remaining GH¢2.6 million could be cleared.

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