Auditor-General proposes working group to work on recovery of stolen funds

BY: Albert Salia

The Auditor-General has proposed the formation of a five-member Joint Working Group (JWG) to work on the format by which the Attorney-General can initiate action through the legal process to recover stolen or misapplied state funds.

The group, to be composed of two representatives each from the Auditor-General’s Department and OccupyGhana, a pressure group, and one from the Attorney-General’s (A-G’s) Department, should be tasked to come up with the format by which the Auditor-General would issue notices of disallowance and surcharge within two weeks.

The proposal was contained in an April 8, 2015 letter addressed to OccupyGhana following a meeting between the group and the Auditor-General on March 27, 2015.

No interference

“The JWG will also discuss the manner in which notices of disallowance and surcharge will be issued and also make recommendations for any residual matters arising from their work,” it said.

The letter, which was signed by the Deputy Auditor-General in charge of Central Government Programme, Mr Richard Asiedu, however, cautioned that “the work of the JWG will not be seen as interfering with or seeking to direct or control the Auditor-General in the performance of his work”.

Background

At a meeting on March 27, 2015, the Audit Service pledged its resolve to liaise with the A-G’s Department in the prosecution and retrieval of money allegedly embezzled or misappropriated by public officials indicted in audit reports.

Mr Asiedu said in the past, the service had not exercised the statutory power of retrieving money misappropriated or embezzled.

That, he said, was because the service rather pursued the administrative process under which it impressed on the management of the culpable institutions to retrieve such money.

He, however, conceded that the law ought to be applied strictly in efforts to retrieve money misappropriated, saying the service would make such recommendations available to the A-G’s Department for legal action.

OccupyGhana argued at the meeting that possibilities existed for the public accountability process to be further facilitated if the Auditor-General were to proceed to inform the A-G of cases in which the Auditor-General had raised issues of disallowance and surcharge but had not been complied with by the auditee management or the person responsible for the offence. 

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