Fraud at Ghana Health Service

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has uncovered fraud involving some human resource personnel who have allegedly embezzled state funds. The alleged crime, which has been detected in the Ashanti, Central and Greater Accra Regions, is believed to be wide-spread. The alleged principal architect of the crime, Mr Gershon Agbo, who is the Human Resource Director of the Ashanti Regional Health Directorate, has already been ordered by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in Kumasi to refund GH¢50,000 and also been interdicted. The story was confirmed to the Daily Graphic by the Director General of the GHS, Dr Elias Sory, and the Ashanti Regional Director of Health Services, Alhaji Dr Mohammed Ibrahim Bin Ibrahim, in separate interviews. The discovery of the alleged crime has prompted the GHS to carry out administrative investigations into its operations throughout the country, beginning from the three regions. Dr Sory said since investigations into the matter started about two months ago, there had been drastic reduction in the expenditure of some of the health directorates. According to a source in the Ashanti Region, the deal was uncovered when some management staff members of the GHS in the Kumasi metropolis, notably Suntreso, Manhyia, Chirapatre and Atonsu Agogo, back-dated the period of employment of a large number of casual workers whose appointments were regularised sometime last year. These suspects, who were mainly administrators and accountants working with the GHS, later asked the new employees to withdraw the various sums from their individual bank accounts and they (the senior officials) later collected the monies. The source again pointed out that when it became necessary for the casual workers to get permanently employed, the administrators sidelined some of the casual workers who had worked for longer periods and employed some new ones. According to the source, when the story broke, the SFO in Kumasi invited the suspects, who were made to pay back various sums of money into government chest. The payments were made in July, this year. Throwing more light on the allegation, Dr Sory said the case involved the staff in the Ashanti Region was before the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). He said looking at the magnitude of the case; he had ordered auditing to be conducted into the operations of all the 10 regions, starting from the Ashanti, Central and the Greater Accra regions. The Director General pointed out that initial investigations conducted by the internal auditors of the service had revealed that the human resource director currently in Kumasi was the brain behind the alleged crime. He observed that other management staff members might be involved, hence the nationwide auditing. Dr Sory explained that it was wrong in the first place for the casual workers to be paid any salary arrears because they were not permanently employed and so the allowances paid to them from the various health facilities should have been enough. He said the initial investigation had revealed that with the help of the suspect, other administrators in those regions fraudulently sent the names of the newly employed to the Controller and Accountant General’s Department (CAGD) after which their names were added to the government’s pay roll as people who had worked for several years without pay. Arrears paid to such employees, which involved huge sums of money, according to the Director General, were allegedly collected from them and shared among some management staff members. Dr Sory said he had called for comprehensive investigation into the allegation, adding that any official found culpable will be handed over to the security agencies.