The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has added 10 more years to the earlier five placed on the dismissed CEO of the Public Procurement Authority, Mr Agyenim Boateng (A.B.) Adjei, from serving in public office.
Mr A.B. Adjei was banned from serving in public office for five years in an earlier report released by CHRAJ in 2020 as part of recommendations to President Akufo-Addo.
“Having abused public office to illicitly enrich himself, Mr Adjenim Boateng Adjei has demonstrated that he can no longer be entrusted with public office. Consequently, the Commission hereby disqualifies him from holding public office for a period not less than 10 years, to run concurrently with the earlier disqualification in the decision of the Commission in the case of OOP V CEO of PPA,” CHRAJ said.
This was contained in a report by CHRAJ as a response to a petition from the Ghana Integrity Initiative, Ghana’s chapter of Transparency International, to investigate the activities of the PPA CEO and the board following the “Contracts for Sale” investigative documentary by The Fourth Estate’s Editor-In-Chief, Manasseh Azure Awuni.
In the investigative piece, Talent Discovery Limited (TDL), a company owned by Mr Adjei, was found to be getting government contracts through restricted tendering and selling those contracts to others for profit.
This new report has also directed Mr AB Adjei to declare his assets within three months. The Commission said Mr A.B. Adjei ignored article 286 of the Constitution and section 5 of Act 550 despite warnings by the Auditor-General.
“However, having been removed from office and disqualified from holding public office for a period of not less than 5 years in the case of the OOP V CEO of PPA, after serving his term of disqualification. He has 3 months from the date of this decision within which to provide evidence before the Commission that he has complied with Article 286(1)(c),” CHRAJ directed.
The Commission said it found Mr Adjei’s response to cash paid into his bank accounts “completely unsatisfactory and unresponsive to the allegation of illicit enrichment or illegal wealth.”
“Mr Adjei received huge cash deposits into his Universal Merchant Bank Cedi account between August 2017 and August 2019 amounting to GHS 5,697,530.00, whilst he was holding public office as CEO of PPA. Although he was given every opportunity to rebut the presumption that those assets were not illegally acquired contrary to section 5 of Act 550, he was unable to show that those monies were reasonably attributable to income, gift, loan, inheritance or any other reasonable source, and therefore deemed to have acquired illegally in contravention of the Constitution.”
The Commission has thus directed him to refund the unexplained wealth because he chose to ignore the Public Procurement Act due to “the personal benefits he gained from it”.
“Consequently, the Commission directs Mr Adjenim Boateng Adjei to refund the sum of GHS 5,697,530.00 being cash deposits made into his Universal Merchant Bank Cedi account between August 2017 and August 2019 to the State within 6 months of the date of this decision. The said amount should be paid into the Consolidated Fund and the receipt evidencing the payment be produced before the Commission, failure to do which the Commission shall take the necessary action to recover the money from Mr Adjei’s known properties and assets.”
Ghana’s Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng has said he is committed to dealing with unexplained wealth during his vetting before Parliament in July 2021.
“If we are to place unexplained wealth in proper context, I will say that if the person cannot reasonably explain as matched against his lawful income the amount of money in question, then that aspect, in my opinion, should be criminalised. But if you can reasonably explain how you came by that amount of money, then that should be acceptable.
“If I were to place the burden on you; matched against your lawful income, and you cannot reasonably explain the shortfall as to how your lawful income falls short of your wealth, then I will be asking you questions and calling you in,” the Special Prosecutor said.
Mr Agyebeng’s predecessor, and Ghana’s first Special Prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu, said policing unexplained wealth was the best way to tackle graft.
“A new Ghanaian law modelled after the UK’s Unexplained Wealth Order (UWOs) could correct the defects in our current laws. Instead of relying on citizens to report omissions to CHRAJ, a Ghanaian UWO law would place the burden on public officials and private individuals to explain the sources of their wealth; failure to do so would lead to prosecution to prove that their assets were acquired using legitimate sources of wealth. These measures would complement Ghana’s existing asset disclosure regime, which is difficult to enforce,” Mr Amidu said in an article.