SSNIT $66m OBS scandal: Counsel, prosecution clash over charge sheet

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    The prosecution and defence counsel in the trial of a former Director-General of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and four others have clashed over an attempt by the prosecution to amend the charge sheet.

    The prosecution, led by a Senior State Attorney, Mr Richard Jyembiby, notified the court, presided over by Justice Henry Kwofie, a Justice of the Court of Appeal sitting as a High Court judge, about an amended charge sheet filed before the court.

    He noted that the substance of the particulars of the offence were not the same, and that the prosecution was only clarifying a sentence in respect to counts 11 and 12.

    Counsel for the accused persons, however, opposed the tendering of the amended charge sheet on the grounds that their clients had already pleaded not guilty to the original charge sheet and that if the state intended to amend the original charge sheet they could only do that by seeking leave of the court to formally do so.

    The court urged the prosecution to formally seek leave through a motion in order to amend the charge sheet since the accused persons had already pleaded not guilty to the original charge sheet before the court.

    The case was, however, adjourned to October 15 this year.

    Former SSNIT boss, Mr Ernest Thompson, and John Hagan Mensah, a former IT Manager at SSNIT; Juliet Hassana Kramer, the Chief Executive of Perfect Business Systems (PBS), Caleb Kwaku Afaglo, a former Head of Management Information Systems at SSNIT, and Peter Hayibor, the lawyer for SSNIT, have been accused of causing financial loss of more than $15.3 million to the state.

    Charges

    All five accused persons have pleaded not guilty to 29 charges, including various counts of conspiracy to willfully cause financial loss to the state and willfully causing financial loss to the state.

    Thompson and Kramer have separately pleaded not guilty to three counts of contravening the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663), while Kramer and Afaglo have also pleaded not guilty to defrauding by false pretence.

    Afaglo is alleged to have secured his employment at SSNIT with fake certificates, and was accordingly charged with various counts of possession of forged documents and uttering forged documents.

    Prosecution’s facts

    It is the case of the prosecution that in June 2010, SSNIT initiated a $34m project to use ICT to revamp its operations to enable it to provide a state-of-the-art pension administration system in the country.

    It said the objective of the project was to automate all of SSNIT’s core processes in the administration of pension and “integrate all internal systems, as well as external stakeholders of SSNIT”.

    The contract sum, the A-G argued, also ballooned from $34m to over $66m, although the system failed to perform efficiently as the project contract had envisaged.

    “The so-called variations or change orders were carried out at the instance of A1 (Thompson), A2 (Mensah), A3 (Kramer) and A4 (Afaglo), and authorised by A1 (Thompson) even though some of the payments were above his threshold as Director-General and contrary to the Public Procurement Act,” the prosecution said.

    The prosecution further said the system failed to work, but Thompson continued to pay for its related expenses.

    “Investigations established that although the system was not performing as efficiently as contracted for, A1 (Thompson) gave authorisation for various payments which culminated in the losses.

    “Investigations also indicated that PBS, purportedly represented by A3 (Kramer), is a non-existent company,” the prosecution said.