The ARB Apex Bank has opened investigations into how officials of the Bongo District Assembly and the Maltaaba Community Bank conspired to allow the assembly to withdraw money from a contractor’s account without his permission.
ARB Apex Bank, which regulates rural and community banks in Ghana, has dispatched a team to the Upper East Region to further probe the matter for possible sanctions.
Sources at the ARB Apex Bank told The Fourth Estate that their probe is to establish the role the bank and individuals of the bank played in the transaction.
This follows an investigation by The Fourth Estate’s Manasseh Azure Awuni, which revealed that the Maltaaba Community Bank was twice complicit in allowing the withdrawal of money from the account of Asumbekere Karim Anagbila, the CEO of Aporgan K-A Enterprise, without his approval.
In total, the assembly withdrew GH₵187,520 in two tranches of GH₵ 31,000 and GH₵156,000 respectively.
When Karim confronted the bank about the first withdrawal, the text notification on his account was disabled only to be activated after the money was withdrawn.
The Fourth Estate’s investigations have revealed that both withdrawals were facilitated by officials of the Bongo District Assembly.
The withdrawals were in respect of a shady contract the Bongo District Assembly’s management allegedly awarded to itself using Karim’s company without his permission.
The deal was fronted by Baba Nsobilla Sebastian, an official of the National Health Insurance Authority in the Bongo District.
Karim’s company, Aporgan K-A. Enterprise, was awarded a contract in November 2020 to drill 10 boreholes within six months in some communities in the Bongo District at the cost of GH₵219,820.
But another contract was signed the same day as a contract awarded to Aporgan K-A Enterprise. Effectively, both contracts were awarded to Aporgan K-A Enterprise, but one was without Karim’s knowledge or permission.
The payment was to be made based on the amount of work executed at every stage of the contract for which the contractor raised the certificate for payment.
The consultant for the project, according to the two-page contract, was the head of the works department of the Bongo District Assembly, David Aruk, who withdraw the first tranche. Karim said when he detected the withdrawal of money from his account by the head of the works department of the assembly, he followed up to enquire from the assembly and he was given rather worrying details.
Officials of the Bongo District Assembly said someone had used Karim’s company for another contract with the assembly so the GH₵31,000 withdrawn from his account was in respect of that contract.
After the first withdrawal, Karim complained to the bank and the assembly and cautioned them never to withdraw any money without his permission.
As a sign of good faith, he said the assembly officials asked him to deposit a blank cheque with the assembly, which he did with only a signature on the cheque.
The agreement was that when the work was done and he inspected it, he would go with the assembly officials to withdraw the money.
He said this meeting was held at the district assembly on June 12, 2021. The assembly’s officials present included the District Coordinating Director, the District Finance Officer, the Head of Works Department, and others.
But the assembly breached the agreement.
It withdrew GH₵156,000 without the contractor’s approval
The bank failed to notify Karim and also failed to tell him who took the money from his account. In fact, they allegedly deactivated the notification on his account.
Peter Ayinbisa Ayamga, the then DCE for Bongo, has insisted he did nothing wrong in the transaction. He admitted awarding the contract to two different persons who presented the same business for the advertised job, but he said that was normal.
He said the boreholes were drilled and were in use, and that was the most important thing. The Fourth Estate visited three of the sites where handpumps had been fixed and the boreholes were being used.
The DCE swore that he did not benefit financially from the contracts. He believed the agitation over the deal was an attempt by his detractors to undermine his chances of being retained as the DCE of Bongo by President Akufo-Addo.
“I can tell and swear by your camera and the video you’re using that this whole contract, even GHc1 has not come to my pocket. I swear same by my vehicle,” he said.
“If someone got the money and bought pito or beer for me, [it’s] different. But to take part in that project process and they say, ‘chief executive, take this one’, I swear by my car lorry steer, as I leave here, I shouldn’t get home.”
Subsequently, the DCE said he had ordered the assembly to withhold the payment of money to the main contract awarded to Karim’s company. He said the payment would not be made until the scandal surrounding the illegal withdrawals from Karim’s account had been resolved.
Meanwhile, the District Chief Executive who headed the assembly during the scandal has not been re-nominated by the President. He has been replaced by Rita Atanga.
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