The Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), a specialized agency mandated to monitor and investigate economic and organized crimes and on the authority of the Attorney General, prosecute these offences, to recover the proceeds of crime, has been reduced to begging for resources from persons who are subjects of its probes.
This, follows revelations that on August 3, 2022 the Managing Director of the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company Limited (BOST), Edwin Provencal and his team, presented two photocopy machines and their accessories to EOCO.
The photocopiers were presented to EOCO by BOST in response to a request by EOCO, which The Herald, has been told is investigating some procurement issues at the state agency under the Ministry of Energy responsible for the development of a network of storage tanks and pipelines.
While, the plea for resources raises questions about the impartiality in the outcome of these investigations, it also casts doubt on the government’s commitment to the fight against corruption, in terms of availability of resources to fight the canker of corruption.
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Indeed, EOCO investigations into the affairs of BOST on a myriad of issue which, included the controversial variations in the cost of its office complex being put up by Rolider, are said to have taken a friendly tone shortly after the EOCO led COP Maame Yaa Tiwaa Addo-Danquah, wrote to fuel transporter for photocopiers in memo dated 28th April 2022.
Interestingly, EOCO, had posted details of the presentation and pictures on its official Facebook page last Wednesday, August 3, 2022, quoting the BOST MD, Edwin Provencal.
Whilst, making the presentation, the Managing Director had stated that: “EOCO has been our development partners for a while, We escalated our issues to them and within a month they had recovered about GH₵ 3,500,000; which is 5% of taxes and levies that were due BOST popularly known as the BOST margin”.
Edwin Provencal, however, failed to give details of those from whom EOCO retrieved the monies from.
But COP Maame Yaa Tiwaa Addo-Danquah, Executive Director of EOCO, on her part noted that in the wake of Disclosures at the courts, the photocopiers are very relevant to investigations and other activities.
She expressed her heartfelt gratitude for the gesture and encouraged other institutions to see EOCO as a partner in recovering the necessary revenue to develop the country.
Behind the scene information available to The Herald is that EOCO and BOST, decided to go public with the photocopiers to water down the backlash they will receive from a media publication. The information had leaked to the media and both managers of EOCO and BOST were afraid of a public uproar hence had to quickly organize a public presentation.
But revelation has left questions as to how many other institutions EOCO is instigating which it has written demanding such requests.
One of the documents available to The Herald had COP Maame Yaa Tiwaa Addo-Danquah, Executive Director of EOCO demanding One Hundred and three thousand, four hundred Ghana Cedis (GHc103,400. 00).
The letter read “The Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) presents its compliments to the Managing Director of the Bulk Oil Storage and Transport Company Limited and respectfully request for financial support to purchase two (2) photocopiers and two (2) additional toner. The total cost of the items is one hundred and three thousand, four hundred Ghana Cedis (GHC103,400.00).
Over the years, EOCO has played a critical role in the fight against organised and financial crimes and this has led to collaborations with your office regarding the recovery of some statutory levies.
In the light of our existing relationship, we respectfully request your good office to assist EOCO with the needed support to enhance our operations. Donation in cheque should kindly be made to “EOCO OPS FUND EXE DIRECTOR’S A/C (BOG).
The EOCO boss added that “it is our hope that, both institutions would continue to mutually benefit from our partnership”.
On receipt of the request, Adjei Marlick, the General Manager Corporate Communication and External Affairs issued a memo dated May 13th 2022 with the subject Review of Sponsorship Request: Financial Support to purchase two (2) photocopiers and two (2) toners.
BOST wrote “Established as a specialized intelligence-led law enforcement agency, Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) has played a critical role in the fight against organized and financial crimes. The office has the authority of the Attorney General, to prosecute all economic crimes and ensure proper accountability to the government. To enable them to continue to work effectively, EOCO is requesting BOST to support them financially to acquire two (2) photocopies and two (2) toners.
The BOST document continued saying “EOCO has over the years established itself as a strategic partner to BOST and assisted with several economic related investigations. Lately, they have assisted our office regarding the recovery of some statutory levies. Supporting EOCO to purchase the photocopier and accessories will help the efficiency of their work and further the relationship between the two institutions”.
“We recommend that we assist their office with an amount of One Hundred and Three Thousand, Four Hundred Ghana Cedis (GH¢103,400.00).
Adjei Marlick’s letter was approved by Edwin Provencal within days, specifically 18th May 2022.
The Herald has meanwhile picked up some very disturbing issues which don’t speak well about the state agency under the Ministry of Energy, responsible for the development of a network of storage tanks, pipelines and other bulk transportation infrastructure throughout the country as well as keeping strategic reserve stocks of petroleum for Ghana.
Details of the rot at BOST continue to emerge with the latest report that the state facility has become a goldmine for many politicians, civil servants among others, who are milking it to its knees.
Firstly, this paper picked up information that the management of BOST, every month sends a whopping GHC1 million to the Ministry of Energy. The cash has vaguely been described as “budget support”, and has left people wondering what is meant for and its destination?
However, some have suggested that the GHC1 million is being used as a “slush fund” reserved for illicit purposes, especially political bribery. It is not clear if proper documentation is kept by both BOST and the receiving entity, the Energy Ministry on the cash for audit purposes.
Secondly, The Herald is further informed about some unholy alliances between the management of BOST and the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) that get procurement deals involving millions of dollars through, without any thorough scrutiny.
This is said to have created situations where there is no value for money in many of the procurements being done by the BOST management led by Edwin Provencal.
It was mentioned that upon submission of requests by the management of BOST, PPA officials are either reluctant to ask the right questions or refuse to engage experts to seek thorough appreciation and technical understanding into the matters.
The deals are approved without question, and insiders believe that there is something untoward happening between the management of BOST and PPA making the state the biggest loser in these transactions.
According to insiders there were instances where PPA officials have fiercely prevented people from asking questions which could have elicited the responses to determine whether other options were considered aside what was submitted to the authority.
The speed with which these transactions are approved has left many surprised.
A US$900,000 furniture supply job is making the rounds in the institution as having been awarded to furnish the controversial office building which came under discussion last week over claims that the terms and price of the transaction agreed with Rolider Ghana Limited was reviewed and inflated in terms of cost.
The unholy alliance between the two institutions was cited as accounting for the variations in the agreement on the office complex.
Thirdly, The Herald is informed about some fraudulent disposal of some cars belonging to BOST.
The cars were disposed off under mysterious circumstances after an auction was halted midway in the name of the Chief of Staff in the Office of the President, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare.
Instead of the buyers expressing interest by quoting the prices they were willing to offer for each of the vehicles, a strange method was adopted and vehicles vanished and till date, the buyers remain unknown and the various amounts they paid also remain unknown.
Indeed, many officials at BOST believe that the cars, most of which were in good condition, were allotted to politicians and other sympathizers of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) at knockdown prices.
Management is said to have mentioned the name of the Chief of Staff, as having taken over the disposal of the vehicles after torpedoing the planned auction per the regulations surrounding the disposal of such state-owned vehicles.
Interestingly, the name of the Chief of Staff, continues to make the rounds in the affairs of BOST.
Last week, The Herald’s contacts at BOST, have revealed that they were recently told by management that the Chief of Staff in the Office of the President, Mrs Osei-Opare, has been behind certain controversial decisions they had taken in recent times.
This includes spending over GHc1 million on a 2-week Harvard Course, after a similar one at Oxford University, despite the ban on nonessential foreign trips.
The Edwin Alfred Provencal-led management, is also accused of blowing the dollar equivalent of Ghc13 million on the procurement of 13 brand new 2020 Toyota Prados for all General Managers, despite the Akufo-Addo government’s moratorium on purchasing of vehicles for state officials.
Workers of BOST, have been agitating for some days with reports of a sit-down strike over poor, incompetent management decisions they say is affecting the general performance of the company.
The angry workers say they had been told by both the management and the board led by its Chairman, Ekow Hackman, that the Chief of Staff, sanctioned these decisions. Interestingly, the Board Chairman, was also part of the Harvard trip to the US, leaving many in shock.
This paper has since been informed that the Presidency has asked for details of all trips that the BOST management has embarked on in recent times.