Audit report orders 3 top ex-Korle-Bu officials to refund GH¢966,000
An interim report on the 2014 expenditure accounts of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) has made allegations of infraction against the former board and the management of the hospital.
The Ghana Audit Service, which conducted the audit, recommended that a number of individuals be made to refund amounts of money totalling about GH¢966,116.97 to the hospital.
The service has also written to the acting chief administrator of the hospital to produce answers to queries raised in the audit.
The report tackled issues concerning procurement, cash management, payroll, project management, transport management, management/governance issues and revenue accounts.
Among the specifics, the report touched on irregular allowances paid to the special assistant to Rev Albert Botchway, the then acting Chief Administrator.
According to the report, on April 3, 2014, the then Board Chairman of Korle Bu, Mr Edward Annan, by a letter, informed the Deputy Director of Administration and Special Assistant to the acting Chief Administrator, Mrs Cynthia Boateng, of the board's decision to let her attend board meetings, as a result of which GHc6,300 was paid to her as sitting allowance.
"We found this arrangement anomalous, since the Korle Bu Board already has a substantive board secretary," it said, and described the amount paid to her as a waste.
In one case, which caused a loss of GH¢118,461.04 to the hospital, the board was accused of the irregular appointment of Mr Godfred Ahianyo, a non-executive member of the board, as the head of a three-member committee to audit various processes of some of the officials of the hospital for a period of one year, effective December 1, 2012.
In the opinion of the auditors, the appointment of and subsequent payments to Mr Ahianyo were fraught with problems, including the lack of clear terms of reference for the work and the failure of the board to disclose the other members of the committee.
Besides, the position to which Mr Ahianyo was appointed was non-existent in the administrative set up of the hospital, while there was no evidence of any work done by him to deserve the amount paid to him.
It recommended that the amount be "recovered immediately", failure of which Mr Annan and Rev Botchway should be held liable for the payment.
There was also a query on cash management involving the payment of unapproved board sitting allowances amounting to GHc67,577.75.
In that case, the report mentioned how the Korle Bu Board had, on May 2014, unilaterally increased members' sitting allowances from GH¢1,500 to GH¢2,000 for the chairman and from GH¢1,000 to GH¢1,500 for other members, without approval from the ministers of Health and Finance, as required by law.
Consequently, the report declared the payments made as illegal and recommended that the money be refunded. It also advised the board to stop the continued payment of the new rates until they were formally approved.
Another case of cash management mentioned in the report centred on a retirement package of GH¢51,096.74 paid to the former acting Chief Administrator, Prof. Efua Hesse.
The auditors said the board side-stepped the laws that required the Finance Minister's approval before such payments could be affected.
Prof. Hesse, who was the Medical Director of the hospital and acted as chief administrator for nine months and retired in September 2013, was paid a monetary "farewell package" of GH¢51,096.74.
In addition, the report said, her official vehicle, a VW Passat procured in 2011 by the hospital at a cost of GH¢44,078, was given to her as gratis.
Curiously, the report added that although Prof. Hesse had earlier entered into an agreement with the hospital to purchase the vehicle and gone ahead to make an upfront payment of GH¢14,688.96, the amount was refunded to her, making her take the vehicle for free.
It recommended that the management of the hospital recover the GH¢51,096.74, recall the vehicle for proper valuation and make Prof Hesse to pay for it.
There was another case of cash management in which the report mentioned the payment of GH¢53,726.38 to Joyce Awuah of the Procurement Unit in respect of House Officers' Bills for April 2014.
"Critical examination of the voucher indicated that only GH¢10,688.50 was accounted for, leaving GH¢43,039.88 yet to be accounted for," it said, and recommended that the Director of Finance get the officer to refund the remaining amount.
In the case of the procurement of a brand new Audi A6 Luxury saloon vehicle valued at GHc199,000 for Rev Botchway, the report said, "The purchase was fraught with irregularities."
It mentioned one of the irregularities as "no evidence of approval of the hospital board for the acquisition".
Again, the acquisition did not go through any tender process, while the 2014 approved budget of the hospital did not provide for the acquisition of a vehicle for the chief executive.
The report also raised issue with the appointment of Rev Botchway as the acting Chief Administrator of Korle Bu.
It said his role as acting chief administrator was illegitimate and, therefore, undeserving of payments of salaries and allowances totaling GHc81,669.82.
"We insist that Rev Botchway produce his appointment letter for review. In the event that he is unable to produce an appointment letter, management should recover all allowances and salaries paid to him," it said.
When contacted Rev. Botchway rubbished the allegations made against him in the Audit Report, saying they were only an attempt to soil his hard-won reputation and cover up the activities of a cabal that was milking the hospital's finances dry.
He wondered how an audit of such nature would be carried out without inviting him to answer specific questions, adding " they are forcing to create stories about me.
"They did a silent audit on me and I know the truth will surely come out one day," he told the Daily Graphic.
0n the Audi vehicle that was purchased for him for instance, the former acting Korle-Bu boss said as far as he knew, it was a decision of the board and it went through due procurement process.
Responding to the allegation that his appointment as acting chief administrator was illegitimate because he was not given an official appointment letter, he said whoever conducted the audit was being mischievous.
On another finding that a wrongful payment of responsibility allowance of GH¢3,611.32 was made to a former Director of Finance of the hospital, Rev. Botchway said he never signed any document to that effect.
Mr Edward Annan on the other hand expressed surprise about an audit undertaken in a year that had not ended.
He said if it was an external audit, then that would be handled by the Auditor-General, adding that normally, a person to be audited would be called for a pre-audit discussion and after the audit had been completed, a post-audit discussion would be held.
That, he said, was to provide the persons involved the opportunity to know what was being audited and for them to make the necessary input.
“I don’t know anything at all about an audit. If it is real and authentic it means that the Auditor-General is in charge, get back to him and tell him to write to me and invite me to his office and I will tell the whole country what happened. I don’t have anything to hide”, he said.
For her part, Prof Afua Hesse said the interim report should have gone through a due process but that was not done.
In any case, she said, she was not a member of the board of the hospital and could not have been privy to their decisions.
She said any adverse findings in the interim report should be addressed to the board of the hospital.
“I am not happy the way things are going. They are just scandalising people. Some people are just sitting somewhere and trying to portray that something bad has been done. It is not fair. I have served this country for more than three decades and this should not be happening to me”, she said.