September 19, 2020
Clickongh

Ag A-G has not cleared Senior Minister

A suit filed by the Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, challenging a surcharge against him by the Auditor-General is expected back in the High Court after an aspect of the case had been sent to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court had urged the parties to collaborate on the inspection of a document which was crucial to the case in order for it to continue at the High Court

Following the Supreme Court’s advice, all the parties have decided to go back to the High Court for the final determination of the suit.

In view of that, the acting Auditor-General, Mr Johnson Akuamoah Asiedu, has written to the Office of the Senior Minister that the Audit Service had inspected the documents and, therefore, the case could go back to the High Court for final determination.

“We wish to state that we are satisfied with the process and, therefore, propose that the lawyers inform the Supreme Court accordingly to enable the parties to go back to the High Court to continue with proceedings in that court,” the letter, dated July 2, this year and signed by Mr Asiedu, said.

 Mischief

A source told the Daily Graphic yesterday that the action by the acting Auditor-General was in fulfilment of the advice by the Supreme Court and did not mean that the Senior Minister had been cleared.

According to the source, it was the High Court that would make a determination on the case filed by the Senior Minister.

“It is, therefore, disingenuous for some people to misconstrue or interpret the letter from the Office of the Auditor-General that Mr Osafo-Maafo has been cleared,” it said.

Surcharge

The Auditor-General, Mr Daniel Yaw Domelevo, had surcharged four officials of the Ministry of Finance and the Senior Minister for paying a UK firm, Kroll and Associates Limited, US$1 million in 2017 to recover assets from identified wrongdoers.

Mr Domelevo had concluded that Kroll and Associates was paid for no work done, following what he said was the persistent failure of the Senior Minister to provide proof of actual work done.

However, in their appeal at the Accra High Court, the Senior Minister and the four officials had argued that the Auditor-General refused to inspect the evidence of work done by Kroll and Associates before issuing the surcharge.

They, therefore, accused the Auditor-General of acting “unreasonably, capriciously and maliciously”.

Again, they argued that the findings by the Auditor-General were a breach of natural justice and their rights to fair hearing, as he had failed to serve the Senior Minister with any audit observations containing any breaches by him before proceeding to issue the notice of intention to disallow or surcharge.

Case at Supreme Court

Kroll and Associates also appealed against the surcharge and, therefore, the High Court consolidated its case and that of the Senior Minister.

Kroll had wanted to produce the document that was evidence of proof of the work it did, but it claimed the document was classified by the government of Ghana as a National Security document.

It, therefore, filed an application at the High Court for the court to make a reference to the Supreme Court for the apex court to decide whether or not the document could be produced in court.

Under Article 135 of the 1992 Constitution, it is only the Supreme Court that has exclusive jurisdiction to determine whether or not an official document will be injurious to the security of the state if it is produced in court.

As a result of the reference by the High Court, all the parties (Senior Minister, Kroll and Associates and the Auditor-General) appeared before the Supreme Court on June 24, this year.

Counsel for the Senior Minister, Mr Yaw Oppong, informed the court that there was no need for the case to be at the Supreme Court because from the onset his client had always maintained that the document was available for inspection by the Auditor-General.

He said it had never been hidden from the Auditor-General or the court, and that it had even been filed at the High Court for the eyes of the trial judge on the same day the High Court judge wrote the reference to the Supreme Court.

In response, counsel for Kroll and Associates, Mr Charles Zwennes, said if the document was before the High Court and his client could easily access it in order to prove the work it did for the government of Ghana, there would be no need for the case to be at the Supreme Court.

Counsel for the Auditor-General, Mr Odikro Nyame, denied the claim that his client had refused to inspect the document, as claimed by Mr Oppong, and said that the Auditor-General was always ready to inspect the document.

A seven-member panel of the court, presided over by Justice Jones Dotse, urged all the parties to collaborate and resolve the matter, since Mr Oppong had indicated that the document had been available for all the parties.

According to the court, if the parties failed to resolve the matter, each must file its submission within 10 days for it to make a determination, per Article 135 of the 1992 Constitution, on whether or not the document could be used for the purpose of the case at the High Court.

Source: General News

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