The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has released a new report on investigations into the activities of the dismissed CEO of the Public Procurement Authority, Mr Agyenim Boateng (A.B.) Adjei.
This investigative report is the second CHRAJ has released on the PPA and its CEO since The Fourth Estate’s Editor, Manasseh Azure Awuni, released his “Contracts for Sale” investigative documentary. The documentary revealed that companies owned by Mr A.B. Adjei were winning government contracts and selling the contracts to prospective buyers.
This latest report is in response to a separate complaint that the Ghana Integrity Initiative, Ghana’s chapter of Transparency International, filed with the anti-graft body to conduct a broader scope of investigations into the activities of the PPA CEO and the board.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo suspended A.B. Adjei and referred the matter to the Office of the Special Prosecutor and CHRAJ in August 2019.
In November 2020, President Akufo-Addo dismissed A.B. Adjei from office after CHRAJ found him guilty of conflict of interest and unexplained wealth.
This latest investigation reveals more unexplained wealth in the various bank accounts the PPA boss received cash payments in the two years that he was in office.
Below is a reproduction of part of the report, which details the amounts paid into A. B. Adjei’s accounts as contained in Page 145 of the CHRAJ report:
“As can be seen above, records received from the FIC of the bank accounts of the Respondent show that the Respondent opened USD Account 9040002473180 at the Stanbic Bank on 03 April 2017, after his appointment as CEO of PPA. As of 28 August 2019, a total amount of USD 516,225 had been credited to the account, and his debits stood at USD 504,607.87. His Euro Account at the same bank also had EU54,500.00 credited and EU37,333 debited for the same period.
In respect of his Cedi Account No. 9040002313337 at the Stanbic Bank, opened on 21 January 2017, a total of 3.83 million Cedis was credited, and 3.81 million Cedis debited, to the account between the date of his appointment as CEO in 2017 and 29 August 2019.
The records further show that his UMB USD Account No. ‚428872‛ had seen cash flow of over USD110,000 between December 2018 and March 2019 alone, whilst total cash deposits into his Cedi account at UMB alone between August 2017 and August 2019 amounted to GHS 5,697,530.00.
In sum, between his two Ghana Cedi accounts at Stanbic and UMB, a total of over 9.5 million Ghana Cedis passed through Mr. Adjei’s hands for the two and half years he was in office, whilst a total of USD626,225 passed through his two USD accounts at Stanbic and UMB, and EU54,500.00 passed through the Stanbic Euro account.
Even though the Respondent is a director of over 19 companies, he himself claims that he did not receive director’s fees from any of those companies except Beachfront Stevedoring Company Limited.
In the meeting on 26th January 2021 Mr Adjie had this to say:
“…I told the people I drove to PPA when I was given the appointment in my brand-new Range Rover. I was somebody who was not just there sitting to wait for an appointment to start life. And this is something that pains me so much because of over 38 years over my life this was only three years and what I was more hurt when my account was published and people didn’t seek to know the background was that over the years I had acquired assets, I have investments, so if I come to office and I am facing this challenge, like this salary and I decide to you know to recapitalise my assets, you know I have land that value three (3) million dollars and all that which I have acquired 14, 15 years ago. So if I decided to do that and I get revenue coming in bits and I re-invest them so could I get other monies. This is not out of place, but because I didn’t have the opportunity to give more detailed account of what my accounts look like, look at the way the public would see. In the nutshell, chairman what I am trying to say is that I did not start my life with PPA in this last three years”.
Once again Mr Adjei appears to have misconceived the real issue here. No one is questioning the magnitude of his wealth or what he was worth before he assumed public office in 2017. The allegations are in respect of illicit enrichment after his appointment as CEO of PPA and unexplained wealth that passed through his foreign and Cedi accounts at Stanbic and UMB banks. Thus, his explanation that he had accumulated wealth prior to his appointment at PPA, does not provide any answers to the issue in question.
In the course of the investigation, the Commission gave opportunity to Mr. Adjei to explain the sources of the numerous large cash deposits into his UMB Cedi account, including a formal letter written to him on the matter. Responding to the Commission’s request, Mr Adjei wrote through his lawyers in a letter dated 29th March 2021 that:
a. …there was a meeting between himself and the Commission on 26th January, 2021 but denies the assertion that at the said meeting he informed investigators that monies deposited into his Universal Merchant Bank (UMB) Cedi account were from investments he made. For the avoidance of doubt, the said meeting only discussed whether our client received salary in the course of his employment, the reason for the deposit made into his account by a car dealership company and certain issues pertaining to board allowances. The sources of money deposited into his UMB account or any other account for that matter was never discussed.
b. In addition, our client contends that even if the said statement was made at the said meeting, he does not consider himself obliged to respond to the inquiry being made by the Commission on the basis that there is no complaint against him regarding his personal account as a public officer. The complaints in this matter bother and concern the allegations that our client established companies as a public officer and used his office to award contracts to his companies, sold those contracts and enriched himself thereby.
In our humble view, the duty of the Commission in relation to the complaint is basically to determine whether our client abused his office to procure contracts in order to sell same and enrich himself and our client would be willing, as he has done in the past, to provide information regarding the complaint but would not participate in any form of inquiry not borne out by the complaint.
c. We also wish to bring to your attention that a related matter in the Commission’s report dated 27th day of October 2020, in the matter of the Office of the President as complainant and our client as he Respondent, your office had made conclusions on the inquiry which you now seek to make. On pages 164 and 187, the Commission noted that it had obtained information from the FIC on our client’s bank accounts and when our client was confronted with the said accounts (which is denied), he could not explain ‚the source of large volumes of excess wealth that passed through his bank accounts between March 2017 and August, 2019‛. It is therefore our position that having concluded in the said official report that our client had failed to explain the source of money in his accounts, the present request is superfluous even if our client felt it was within the scope of the complaint before the Commission.”
Again, we find that Mr Adjei has misled himself on the issues under investigation. To start with, one of the allegations made against Mr. Adjei is that:
Adjenim Boateng Adjei enriched himself illegally and placed himself in contravention of Article 286 of the 1992 Constitution and his actions should be investigated, he should be sanctioned, and the illegal assets he acquired should be confiscated to the State.
Among others, the Complainant prayed that:
In order not to allow those persons benefit from the illegal wealth they may have acquired through corruption, investigations should be conducted and the illegal wealth retrieved for the State.
Therefore, it is within the remit of this investigation to inquire into how Mr. Adjei came by those large amounts of cash lodged into his accounts, especially when he had stated himself that he was not receiving salary or income from any of the known sources. He had also admitted that he had not declared his assets and liabilities to enable the Commission determine what he was worth before assuming public office.
Further, Mr Adjei misconceived the intendment of the request when he stated that the Commission had already concluded that he could not explain the sources of the money in his various accounts in a previous investigation. The previous investigation under reference (OOP V CEO of PPA) did not inquire into his UMB Cedi account, which information the Commission obtained from the FIC only in February 2021 in the course of this particular investigation. Therefore, the Commission could not have stated that Mr. Adjei could not explain the sources of the cash lodged into his UMB Cedi account in the case under reference.
As an independent constitutional investigative body, the Commission has, and will, always give all persons, especially persons against whom allegations are made, all the opportunity under the law to fully participate in its investigations and to put across their defense. However, where persons fail or refuse to use the opportunity given, the Commission can not compel them to do otherwise.
The Commission finds Mr. Adjei’s response completely unsatisfactory and unresponsive to the allegation of illicit enrichment or illegal wealth. Mr. Adjei’s circumlocutory responses did not offer any explanation to the sources of the large volumes of wealth that passed through his UMB Cedi account between August 2017 and August 2019, except the explanation given for the deposit in two installments of GH¢43,000.00 each (totaling GH¢86,000.00) into the said account in November 2017 by Device Ltd.
In the face of the compelling evidence, the Commission finds as a fact that the total cash deposits into Mr Adjei’s Cedi account at UMB between August 2017 and August 2019 amounting to GHS 5,697,530.00, less the GHS86,000.00 paid by Device Ltd, and for which Mr Adjei could not offer any reasonable explanation as attributable to income, gift, loan, inheritance or any other reasonable source is deemed to have been acquired illegally in contravention of Article 286(4) of the 1992 Constitution.”
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