By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie
Several former and current officials of government are not too far from trouble after it has been alleged by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) that they chopped-up and misappropriated thousands of United States dollars from tax payers’ money.
Discussion and adoption of the audit reports from the Joint Committee on Public Accounts and Expenditure and Audit on line ministries and state-owned enterprises, recommended to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf that former Gender Minister, Varbah Gayflor, her former comptroller, Stephen Forkpa, should be made to restitute the full amount of US$23,901.71 and LD$31, 180 equitably.
The committee further recommended that Varbah Gayflor and Mr. Forkpa should be accountable for the misappropriation of US$143,459. The report said they should deposit the money into an escrow account which will be established by the Minister of Finance.
The report which covers fiscal years 2006/2007, 2007/2008 and 2008 up to September 2009 from the GAC, established that the former Minister’s records revealed that her finance department established the collection of US$23,901.71 and LD$31,180 as fees from organizations and individuals for use of the ministry’s conference hall.
Margibi County District # 4 Representative, Ben Fofana, chairs the Public Accounts Committee in the House while Grand Cape Mount Senator, Edward Dagoseh, chairs the Committee in the Senate.
Reading the report to his colleagues yesterday at Capitol Hill, Rep. Fofana explained that it was also established that the ministry’s financial documents revealed that a check worth US$138,213 and US$217,154 were issued to the names of Mr. Moses S. Kelleh, Program Officer and Mr. Edwin Borbor, Accounts Technician.
During the public hearing which was held few months ago at Capitol Hill with the Committee, Rep. Fofana said former Minister Gayflor acknowledged the collection of fees for use of the conference hall but expended those funds to pay those employees providing janitorial services to keep the hall intact.
As for the comptroller, Rep. Fofana said, Mr. Forkpa admitted during the hearing that the money was transferred to the Ministry of Gender’s account and it was subsequently disbursed to organizations. Mr. Forkpa along with former Minister Gayflor acknowledged the receipt of the amount but used it to pay other employees that were not on the ministry’s allowance listing.
It has also been recommended by the Committee that Mr. Forkpa should restitute the amount of US$13,495.00 representing payment made for goods without evidence of delivery notes, and such money should be deposited in an escrow account created by Finance Ministry.
During the audit discussion, the Margibi lawmaker indicated that the Committee established that the ministry violated section 16 and 17 of the Interim Financial Rule of the government and as such, it recommended that Mr. Edwin Borbor and Moses Kelleh should be made to restitute the full amount of US$335,367.60.
Others included to restitute money at the Gender Ministry are the Procurement Director, Mrs. Vashti Brown, US$32,749.00 for goods procured without evidence of receipts while Mr. Siene Abdul Baki has been commanded to pay back US$75,332.00.
Based on the deliberation and the admittance by the authorities at the Gender Ministry that two salaries were issued to Annette Kiawu but that she did not sign for the two salaries, so the Committee recommended that the Personnel, Mr. Mathew Bundo and Stephen Forkpah be made to pay back LD$31,966.58 for the salary received and cashed on behalf of Annette Kiawu, who was no longer in the position of Senior Economist.
After the report was read, lawmakers in session unanimously voted to endorse the Public Account Committee’s report and Deputy Speaker Hans M. Barchue who presided over the session instructed the Chief Clerk of the House to reference the President on the recommendations.