Four accountants at the Judicial Service of Ghana have been prosecuted, Chairman of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Kwaku Agyeman-Manu has confirmed.
According to the Chairman, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Dormaa Central Constituency in the Brong Ahafo region, one of the accountants pleaded to pay a fine, whilst the other three were sent to prison.
The Judicial Service has been cited for massive financial misappropriation in the Auditor-General’s Audit report for 2013, 2012 and 2011.
In the 2013 Audit report, some officials of the Judicial Service were said to have committed basic accounting errors such as;
(a). Failure to credit the account of the court with the total revenue collected, which is ₵303, 000, in the cash book.
The Service’s HFC bank account statement entry stood at ₵270, 000 – which means that the account is short of ₵33, 000 – an amount that had been refused to be credited to the bank account.
(b). Failure to record deposit payments to cash books of the sum of ₵1.9million, £4,000 and $206.
The report also said a convict by name Abubakar Karim who was prosecuted by the Offinso Circuit court in Kumasi to serve a prison sentence of 24 months in the Kumasi Central prison escaped. Per a warrant dated 14 June the convict was escorted by one inspector K.A. Boateng to the prison but records show he was not taken to the prison yard.
Justifying the PAC’s decision to hold an in-camera (out of public hearing) sitting, Mr. Agyeman-Manu disclosed “Our thinking has been proven right, there were certain sensitive areas we didn’t think should be put out in the public”.
He said: “It was clear that invariably there was no accounting function put in the judiciary, a basic primary book for accounting were not there.”
He said the revelations that came out of the Committee’s meeting with officials of the Judiciary are not captured in the Auditor-General’s report.
In an interview, Member of Parliament for North Dayi Constituency in the Volta region, George Loh said: “We have a hearing in camera so that we deal with the issues that nobody should have worried about in terms of public knowledge”.
He said it is a normal practice in Parliament for certain sittings to be held in camera, saying “In recent times the Judiciary has had some issues and we wanted to probe into them”.
We did it for the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), he said adding “We are not interested in protecting anybody because we don’t get anything protecting anybody”.