Despite efforts put in place by the late Kwadwo Baah Wiredu, former Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, to rid the government payroll of ghost names and other forms of malpractices, the mafia group behind the scam is still operating big time behind the scenes.Reports reaching The Chronicle from the Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam (AEE) District Assembly in the Central Region indicate that a mafia group, working with their collaborators at the Controller and Accountant General’s Department in Accra, has succeeded in siphoning thousands of Ghana Cedis from the state coffers.

The Assembly is now in a state of panic, following the discovery of the operations.

The perpetrators, numbering over twenty, are employees of the various departments of the Assembly, who have been meeting on a regular basis to plan how they could amass wealth that would sustain them for the rest of their lives.

They have, therefore, contracted the services of one Mr. Sarfo, an Accountant at the Agric Department at Ajumako, who has succeeded in inflating the salaries of the mafia group, to enable them draw more money from the government chest.

Among the mafia group are John Kwabu, a Messenger at the Registrar Department of the Assembly, one Gifty, a former Secretary to the District National Youth Employment Program (NYEP) but now working with the Assembly, Effeh, who is a Secretary at the Works Department of the Assembly, Kwakye, also a messenger at the Assembly, and one Christy, who works at the Rural Enterprise Department of the Assembly.

Others include Kwaku Mensah, a driver to the District Chief Executive, Light Koomson, Atto Tutus, also a driver of the District Finance Officer (DFO) at the Assembly, Kofi Frimpong, a.k.a. Ntroba, a driver at the Works Department of the Assembly, Madam Florence, and Kofi Fosu, the ring leader, who introduced the members of the group to Mr. Sarfo.

Investigations conducted by The Chronicle revealed that Mr. Sarfo was highly connected to some officials at the Controller and Accountant General’s Department and, therefore, succeeded in executing the task given him, through the assistance of his cohorts at the Controller and Accountant General’s Department. The Chronicle learnt that Mr. Sarfo has been in that business for over five years.

Salaries of the ‘mafia’ network were back-dated for six months.
Pieces of information picked by this paper revealed that all the arrears owed members of the network had been paid by the Controller and Accountant General’s Department.

Investigations at the Assembly revealed that the salaries of all drivers at the Assembly fall within GH¢250 to GH¢350, depending on one’s qualification and experience.

Additionally, Secretaries (Typists) are pegged at between GH¢250 and GH¢400, depending on one’s qualification and experience, whilst labourers receive between GH¢120 and GH¢180, depending on one’s experience.

However, The Chronicle learnt that the DCE’s driver, whose salary falls within the structure of GH¢250 and to GH¢350, now receives GH¢3,100, whilst Effeh, a Secretary at the Works Department of the Assembly, whose salary falls within the range of GH¢250 and GH¢400, now receives GH¢1,800.

Kwakye, a labourer, whose salary falls between GH¢120 and GH¢180, now receives GH¢1,200. With their fortunes changed overnight, members of the network were living comfortably until luck eluded them.

An officer at the District Assembly, who suspected the sudden change in the lifestyle of the aforementioned names, started looking for clues. This led to the discovery of the anomaly on the pay slips of members of the ‘mafia’ network.

According to inside sources at the Assembly, the officer reported the matter to the police, leading to the arrest of all members of the network and the ringleader a fortnight ago.

The Chronicle is reliable informed that Mr. Sarfo was on Wednesday, June 8, 2011, sent to court to face the law, and remanded into police custody for further investigations.

Knowing the implications of the crime on the Assembly’s image, the District Finance Officer, Mr. Pobby, and the District Coordinating Director, P. K. Asamoah, went to the rescue of the other members of the ‘mafia’ network by bailing them.

Information picked on the ground indicated that the Assembly was trying as much as possible to withdraw the case from the police station and settle it amicably, without letting the general public know about the heinous crime.
There is also a conspiracy to cover up the crime and prevent the perpetrators from facing the wrath of the law.

Information available to The Chronicle indicates that on Tuesday, June 14, 2011, the DCE, Light Koomson, called a meeting, where he warned all members of the Assembly to remain tight-lipped over the issue.

They were also to write a letter to his office, expressing their support to the suspects, and prevent them from being sacked, but rather be made to refund the monies into government chest.

The Chronicle could, however, not confirm this information from the DCE, who cut the phone line when this reporter tried to verify the information from him, because, according to him, he was attending a workshop at Koforidua.

Attempts to get official confirmation from the District Police office proved futile. The head of the CID, Chief Inspector Broni, who is handling the case, refused to talk on the issue when this reporter reached him on phone, after failing to get him in his office.

The District Coordinating Director, P. K. Asamoah, however, confirmed the story, but refused to give further details. “This is a departmental issue, and I wouldn’t like to talk more about it, since the matter is already in the hands of the police,” he noted.

According to him, the Assembly, after discovering the rot, had written several letters to the appropriate bodies to rectify the anomaly. The AEE District Assembly is well known for the ‘covering up’ of corrupt practices.

Immediately the National Democratic Congress (NDC) took over the reins of government, the former Finance Officer at the Assembly, Budu Smith, forged the signature of the DCE for fuel, valued at thousands of new Ghana cedis. But, when he was caught, he pleaded for forgiveness, and nothing was heard of the case again.

This infuriated the youth of the town to demonstrate against the decision of the DCE, yet no attempt was made to get him to refund the money. He was later transferred to Breman Essikum, where he has been working as a finance officer.
The District Coordinator of the National youth employment Programme (NYEP), Andrews Kojo Dodoo, was also found guilty of pocketing allowances of beneficiaries working under the programme.

He has been sacked, but was told to refund the monies to the beneficiaries. Till date, those monies, worth GH¢7,400 have still not been paid.

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