How the dismissed PPA CEO cleared all the funds in his “frozen” bank accounts

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Information available to The Fourth Estate indicates that the dismissed chief executive officer of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), Adjenim Boateng Adjei, has withdrawn all the money from his bank accounts that were frozen when investigations into his activities began.

According to our sources, he cleared his accounts of all the funds before the current Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng, took office.

One of the major revelations in the “Contracts for Sale” scandal that saw the dismissal of Mr Adjei was the huge amount of “unexplained” money found to have been deposited into his bank accounts while he was in office.

Mr. Adjei was in office for two and a half years and more than GHc41 million cedis was paid in cash into his Cedi, Dollar and Euro accounts.

Following the “Contracts for Sale” investigative documentary produced by Manasseh Azure Awuni, President Akufo-Addo suspended AB Adjei in August 2019.

The investigation revealed that Mr. Adjei formed a company, Talent Discovery Limited, with his brother-in-law after his appointment as the CEO of the PPA. This company won a number of government contracts through the restrictive tendering method. The contracts were approved by the PPA board of which Mr. Adjei was a member.

Talent Discovery Limited, the investigations found, did not have the capacity to execute the contracts. It then sold the contracts to individuals and companies without the knowledge or approval of the awarding entities.

Beyond the suspension, the president referred Mr. Adjei to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) to investigate his conduct.

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The Ghana Integrity Initiative, Ghana’s chapter of Transparency International, also petitioned CHRAJ to probe Mr. Adjei and the board of the PPA for their role in the scandal.

In 2020, CHRAJ released its investigative report on the president’s petition. It found Mr Adjei guilty of conflict of interest and other offences.

CHRAJ banned Mr Adjei from holding public office for 10 years. He appealed the ban at the high court and lost.

CHRAJ also revealed that the total amount in Mr. Adjei’s accounts since he assumed office in 2017 stood at GHc14.8 million.

“We find the Respondent’s [Mr. Adjei’s] explanation completely unsatisfactory and that he could not explain the source of the large volumes of excess wealth that passed through his bank accounts between March 2017 and August 2019 (unexplained wealth),” CHRAJ’s report said.

The Special Prosecutor at the time, Martin ABK Amidu, released a press statement in which he commended CHRAJ for its report.

“The only problem with the CHRAJ report is that for some reason it understates the amounts disclosed by the bank statements from the three bank accounts of Mr. Adjei exhaustively reviewed by the Auditor-General and this Office,” Mr Amidu said.

The Special Prosecutor disclosed that from 2017 to August 19, 2019, Mr. Adjei had 15,691,559.30 Cedis, USD 4,467,655 and 54,500 Euros deposited into his three bank accounts.

Both CHRAJ and the Special Proscutor at the time said prior to assuming office, the amounts deposited into Mr Adjei’s accounts were insignificant when compared with what went into his account during his time in office.

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In fact, the CHRAJ Report said “the Respondent [Mr. Adjei] opened USD Account Number 9040002473180 at the Stanbic Bank on 03 April 2017, after his appointment as CEO of PPA.”

Martin Amidu said, “I froze the bank accounts of all the suspects together with their legal entities.”

Information available to The Fourth Estate, however, indicates all the monies in the accounts have been withdrawn.

Our sources say, the freezing order expired and Mr. Adjei applied to the court to have it lifted. The sources say the OSP could not have kept the account frozen for more than 12 months without acting on the reason for which the account was frozen.

The Fourth Estate’s sources further revealed that when Martin Amidu resigned from office in 2020, investigations into the “Contracts for Sale” scandal stalled.

In the intervening period between his resignation and the assumption of office of his successor, AB Adjei went to court and had the freezing order lifted.

He then proceeded to clear all the funds in the various accounts he held.

According to sources, other state agencies such as the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) could have frozen the accounts when the OSP’s order had expired. If this was done, the accounts would still remain frozen by the time the case was ready for prosecution.

The FIC, according to sources, is the body that could have flagged and dealt with the huge sums of cash deposits passing through Mr. Adjei’s accounts even if he was not involved in the “Contracts for Sale” scandal.

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In February 2022the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng, said his office would soon announce the conclusion and further actions to be taken on three corruption-related cases soon.

The three were among 45 corruption cases that were being investigated by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), and the “Contracts for Sale” was one of the three.

It is yet to be seen whether the prosecution would focus on Mr. Adjei’s and his company’s involvement in the sale of the government contracts or the “unexplained” wealth he accumulated while in office or both.| Evans Aziamor-Mensah

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