The Former Executive Director of the National Service Scheme (NSS), Alhaji Alhassan Mohammed Imoro, and 34 others on Wednesday appeared before an Accra Fast Track High Court (Tax and Financial) Division for conspiracy to commit crime, giving bribe to influence a public officer and stealing.
Imoro was charged for conspiracy, stealing and giving bribe to influence public officer while the others were charged for conspiracy and stealing. The initial charges against Imoro have all been withdrawn.
They all pleaded not guilty to all charges of stealing a total amount of GH₡ 107,897,018.36 belonging to the government of Ghana through the payment of ghost or non-existent service personnel.
They were granted bail to the sum of various tunes ranging from GH₡5,000,000.00 to GH₡30,000.00 by the court Presided over by Justice Georgina Mensah-Datsa.
Presenting the facts of the Case, the Chief State Attorney, Penelope-Ann Mamattah said, in July 2014, the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) commenced a nation-wide investigation into the operations of the NSS with regard to the payment of monthly allowances to Service Persons.
She said this was after a report received by the BNI indicating malfeasance in the postings and payment of allowances to Service Persons.
Investigations established that between September 2013 and August 2014, the pay roll of the NSS was bloated with 31,516 names for both the National Service Postings and the National Voluntary Service Recruitment.
She told the court that during that service year, National Service Persons were paid GH₡243.00 per month as allowance from September 2013 to December 2013 and GH₡350.00 per month from January 2014 to August 2014.
Chief State Attorney Mamattah said an elaborate ploy was hatched by Alhaji Mohamed Imoro Alhassan, the NSS Executive Director, supported by senior officers of the scheme at the National Secretariat.
The ploy also included all the Regional Directors of the scheme and implemented by the District Directors involved in the generation of “ghost” names at the Head Office of the Scheme in Accra.
She said these ghost names were added to the genuine names on the nominal rolls based on which payment vouchers were prepared. The payment vouchers were prepared by the Chief accountant, Nelson Ayeltiga and passed on to the Internal Audit.
“The internal Auditor, Gloria Aku Mensah, whose duty it was to audit and vet all the accounts and payment vouchers, did not audit the accounts and the payment vouchers and yet passed them on. Ayeltiga and Mensah received regular payments from some Regional Directors.
She indicated that the “ghost” names, which were detected in all the Districts in the country, were mostly posted to the rural areas and in some cases to non-existent institutions and departments.
The names of personnel posted to self-accounting public and private institutions were converted to and retained on the Government pay roll without effecting the required amendment with the Consultant to the Scheme.
She told the court that the Executive Director had dealings with his Regional Directors and the Regional Directors had dealings with the District Directors, who directly worked under them. The Executive Director never dealt directly with the District Directors.
“The “ghost” names were sent by the Executive Director to the Regional Directors with firm instructions as to how much he was to receive very month.
“The number of names the Executive Director gave to each Regional director depended on the trust and loyalty he had developed with each Regional Director”.
Chief State Attorney Mamattah said on receipt of the “ghost “names and the instructions thereof, the Regional Director in turn passed the “names” to his district Directors with his set of instructions as to how much the District Director was to retain every month and how much was to be sent to him.
The amount of money the Regional Directors sent to the Executive Director depended on the number of names he got from him and the accompanying instruction.
The “ghost” names the Executive Director sent to the Regional Directors were not given to them at one go.
The Executive Director started giving out the names in September 2013 shortly after the postings.
The names then started increasing from October through to January 2014 when the postings stabilized and no more names were given.
She told the court that, in addition, all the Senior Officials at the National Service Secretariat, who were implicated in the fraud also had their own separate deals with the Regional Directors independent of one another and have confessed to having each received regularly every month, several thousands of Ghana Cedis from the Regional Directors.
The Regional Directors have also admitted having made regular payments to them.
She said at the end of the Service year in August 2014, the amounts that the Regional and District Directors shared also included Travel and Transport allowances meant for the Service Persons to travel back to their various destinations.
She said all the Regional Directors were involved and had admitted to that and had promised to refund their share of the proceeds.
The Chief State Attorney said, at the National Service Secretariat, with the exception of the Executive Director, Alhaji Imoro, who has repeatedly denied any involvement, all the others cited in the fraud have confessed to their involvement.
“All the Regional and District Directors as well as the senior officials at the National Service Secretariat have all made part payments in satisfaction of their liabilities.
“The Executive Director has however not made any payment at all though he has been furnished with his liability”.
She said during this period the State lost an amount of GH₡107,897,018.36 GNA