The former Deputy Secretary General of the Ghana Red Cross Society (GRCS), Dr. Eric Asamoah Darko, implicated in a financial scandal said he paid GHS250,000 to an official at Ghana’s seat of government, the Jubilee House.
According to him, this person, posing as an agent, connected him to the Mastercard Foundation and demanded 30% of a financial aid of $645,000 that would be given to the GRCS.
The Deputy Secretary-General told a fact-finding committee meeting held in November 2020 at the Head Office, that he paid the unnamed Jubilee House official after the money was received from the Mastercard Foundation. This revelation is contained in the report of the committee, which The Fourth Estate has sighted.
The fact-finding committee was to find out why suppliers contracted to supply goods could not meet the target despite receiving the payment for the supplies in full.
The $645,000 from Mastercard was paid into the Central Region account of the GRCS on June 22, 2020 for a covid-19 project.
Within a week, $500,000 of the money had been spent under shady circumstances.
A chunk of the money was used to pay five companies which were handpicked by the Central Regional Manager of the Red Cross, John Aidoo.
The Fourth Estate search at the Registrar of Companies showed that two of the companies which were awarded the contract, Shamana Hospitality Business and Elishnat Enterprise, were registered three months before the Mastercard Foundation contract.
The search further revealed that the companies belong to Ernestina Amoako, the wife of John Aidoo, who single-handedly awarded all the contracts.
Mr. Aidoo was the only member of the tendering and procurement “committee” set up to get suppliers for the contract without any advertisement of the bid as required by the procurement laws of Ghana.
All five companies did not supply all the items they were required to supply under the contract, according to the report of an investigative committee set up by the Red Cross Society of Ghana to look into the procurement anomalies.
The suppliers, who were paid in full could not supply the items for which they were paid. Dr. Asamoah had earlier accused the drivers and warehouse staff of theft but available documents by the storekeeper proved otherwise.
Most of the supplies received from the five suppliers at the time were kept at Dr. Asamoah Darko’s house due to the unavailability of space at the warehouse and subsequently distributed to the project regions.
When Dr. Asamoah was notified of the shortages in the supply, he promised to sort out all those shortages but at the fact-finding committee meeting, he denied any shortage of goods and accused the storekeeper of not picking up all the items from his house.
The report from the fact-finding committee stated, “Parker [the storekeeper of the GRCS] did not pick all the items from his [Dr Asamoah’s] house because he later detected some boxes of the carbolic soap were left in his house. He said it’s about 15 boxes he found in his house.”
A disciplinary committee set up by the GRCS to investigate the allegations of embezzlement said in its report that Dr. Asamoah Darko was the “mastermind” of the scandal.
Payment to the Jubilee House official
The fact-finding committee said Dr. Asamoah Darko had contacted the Vice President of the GRCS, Dr. Kingsley Preko, who advised that the Mastercard Foundation money should be sent to the Central Region.
Upon Dr. Preko’s advice, the Central Region was established as the headquarters of the project, and the manager of the Ashanti Region GRCS, Michael Asante, was roped in to ensure there was a third person for the accounting tasks involved.
Minutes from the committee’s meeting said the alleged demand of a percentage of Mastercard Foundation money was made to Dr. Preko, who advised that the three managers of the fund should disclose it to the head office of the GRCS. They, however, did not.
Using his discretion, Dr. Asamoah Darko authorised the payment to be made to the “front man” at the Jubilee House when concerns were raised about the project implementation. He did not name the said official at the seat of government.
Dr. Asamoah Darko told the committee that “his biggest challenge was that nobody accompanied him to meet with the agent [Jubilee House official] fronting for Mastercard at the time he was going to give the GHS250,000 cedis to them because he called Michael Asante to join him but Asante disappointed at the last minute”.
Dr. Asamoah Darko also refused to name the official at the Jubilee house whom he gave the money.
Recommendations from management
Based on the reports and questioning, the management staff concluded that Dr. Asamoah Darko “got the project from the Mastercard foundation in the name of the National Society and sent it to the Central Region to implement it under the supervision of the Central Regional Manager, John Aidoo.”
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