The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has enlisted the renowned Audit, Tax, and Advisory Services firm, KPMG, to promptly investigate the multimillion-dollar transaction between the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Strategic Mobilization Ghana Ltd (SML) brokered by the Finance Ministry.

Eugene Arhin, Communications Director to the President in his statement, dated Tuesday, 2nd January 2024, emphasized that KPMG has a two-week deadline to complete the audit.

But doubts have arisen regarding KPMG’s willingness to criticise the decision made by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, who has remained silent on the SML procurement contract heavily laden with conflict of interest.

This is despite a Ministry of Finance letter dated June 22, 2023, signed by one Ernest Akore with “Chef De Cabinet” as his designation reveals how SML was simply awarded Revenue Assurance deals at the whims and caprices of the finance minister.

Observers suggest that the President might be inclined to whitewash the transaction authorized by his cousin, contrary to expectations that a diverse investigative team comprising both state and private individuals who are experts in the field, would be deployed by him to conduct the investigation.

Last December, The Herald newspaper and The Fourth Estate, independently scrutinized the controversial contract.

A particularly troubling aspect of this saga is the alleged involvement of an ex-adviser to the Commissioner General of GRA, Christian Tetteh Sottie, who is said to have swiftly transitioned from an advisory role to securing deals from the former employer, GRA and operating as the front of the Finance Minister to lead the revenue assurance business of the new “Private GRA” as Managing Director of SML. This confirmed information raises ethical questions about the integrity of the procurement process.

President Akufo-Addo mandated KPMG to submit appropriate recommendations within two weeks.

The contract according to the brains behind it is aimed at enhancing revenue assurance in the downstream petroleum sector, upstream petroleum production, and minerals and metals resources value chain.

The audit’s Terms of Reference include assessing the rationale behind the contract approval, evaluating contracting methodology compliance, and reviewing financial arrangements.  President Akufo-Addo tasked KPMG to submit appropriate recommendations within two weeks, directing the Ministry of Finance and GRA to provide necessary assistance for the audit.

“The Terms of Reference of the Audit are as follows:

  1. Conduct an audit to ascertain the rationale or needs assessment performed prior to the contract approval by GRA, and assess how the arrangement aligns with specific needs;
  2. Assess the appropriateness of the contracting methodology, verifying compliance with legal standards and industry best practices in the procurement process for the selection of SML;

iii. Evaluate the degree of alignment between current activities and the stipulated contract scope, identifying any deviations;

  1. Evaluate the value or benefit that SML has so far offered to the GRA through this engagement;
  2. Review the financial arrangements, including pricing structures, payment terms and resolution of any financial compliance issues; and
  3. Submit a report on your findings on the above, together with appropriate recommendations.

President Akufo-Addo has tasked KPMG to complete the assignment in two weeks and submit appropriate recommendations to him.

“The President has directed the Ministry of Finance and GRA to provide KPMG with whatever assistance they will require for conduct of the audit, and has also directed the Ministry of Finance and the Ghana Revenue Authority to suspend the performance of the contract, pending the submission of the audit report, including any payments presently envisaged under its terms.

The Herald’s investigation reveals the involvement of Ernest D. Akore, an officer at the Finance Ministry, who takes orders from the Finance Minister, to assign additional work to SML, owned by Evans Edusei and Esther Edusei, timber merchants.

Notably, Akore had previously worked under Mr Ofori-Atta at Databank Brokerage Ltd, serving as Executive Director.

Later, he transitioned to the Finance Ministry, where he is sometimes referred to as a Technical Advisor to the Minister for Finance.

Akore’s letter titled “Expansion of the scope of work by Messrs Strategic Mobilization Limited” and sent to the Commissioner General of the GRA, Dr Ammishaddai Owusu-Amoah. He clocked the retirement age of 60 years in 2021 and was given a year’s contract. He was expected to bow out by October 10, 2022, but is still at the position.

In the letter, Akore stated that the Minister for Finance wanted to extend SML’s Revenue Assurance work to include monitoring upstream oil drilling and gold mining activities.

But more strange is the discovery that Christian Tetteh Sottie was once an officer of the GRA and had moved to be Controller and Accountant General under the John Kufuor administration.

With the Akufo-Addo, presidency, Christian Tetteh Sottie, returned to play the role of a Technical Advisor to the GRA Commissioner General, but not long after, he left the GRA job to become Managing Director of SML and went into a financial transaction with the GRA, his former employers, running into hundreds of millions of Ghana Cedi.

Christian Tetteh Sottie, is a board member of the Internal Audit Agency, a state institution as well as a non-executive director of the state-owned State Insurance Company (SIC).

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