GHS3 Billion lie: OSP commences investigation into SML contract



The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) has initiated preliminary investigations into the revenue assurance contract between the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Strategic Mobilisation Limited (SML).

The OSP said its investigation is based on a petition it received from three journalists with The Fourth Estate.

“The complaint alleged possible corruption, including breaches of the Public Procurement Act, in respect of the contractual arrangements,” it stated in a half year report published on January 18, 2024.

The half year report of the OSP covers all investigations and prosecutions for the period between July 1, 2023, and December 31, 2023.

The announcement by the OSP comes in the same week that tax audit firm, KPMG, which was appointed by President Nana Akufo-Addo to investigate the contract, is expected to submit its report.

The Fourth Estate’s investigative report in December 2023 revealed that SML Ghana won the sole-sourced contract though it had no prior experience in revenue assurance. It also found that the company had no evidence to back its claim that it had saved the nation from potential revenue losses amounting to GHS3billion cedis.

The Managing Director of SML, Christian Tetteh Sottie, claimed he did not know about the GHS3 billion figure when The Fourth Estate confronted him with evidence. He said the media, including the state-owned  Daily Graphic, had taken a presentation SML made to the GRA board out of context and reported the wrong information. The same information, however, was published on the company’s website.

The investigations also detailed the circumstances surrounding the signing of an expanded consolidated contract worth nearly USD100 million a year for revenue assurance in the upstream petroleum and gold mining sectors.

The investigations showed that in 2019 when the GRA entered into the agreement with SML Ghana, Mr Sottie was the Technical Advisor to the Commissioner-General of the GRA.

Mr Sottie left his job as the Technical Advisor to the GRA Commissioner-General in the same year to manage SML Ghana in 2020 when the company started implementing its contract with the GRA.

The GRA has been the only customer of SML Ghana since its establishment.

Meanwhile, state agencies that are tasked to regulate the activities in the petroleum and mining sectors have denied knowledge of the contract which the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, ordered the GRA to sign with SML Ghana.

The Minerals Commission, the sole regulator of the mining industry in Ghana, in response to a Right to Information (RTI) request by The Fourth Estate said it did not play any role in the award of the revenue assurance contract between SML and the GRA.

The Petroleum Commission, in a response to The Fourth Estate enquiries also denied any knowledge of a contract with SML to monitor petroleum revenue in the upstream sector.

The Ministry of Finance, which directed the GRA to sign the contract, has said that it does not have any information on revenue losses in the mining, petroleum downstream, and upstream sectors.

“We do not have direct information on purported reports from agencies in the petroleum and mining sectors about losses in the downstream, upstream and mining sectors,” the ministry said in a written response to an RTI request from The Fourth Estate.

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