Dr James Klutse Avedzi, Chairman, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, has directed Joseph Akulu, a former cashier of the Abeka District Court, who misappropriated GH¢74,937 court fees to hand himself over to the Police.
The Chairman gave the directive at the sitting of PAC in Accra, during which Mrs Vera Takyi, Finance Director, Judicial Service, made an appeal to Parliament to issue a warrant declaring Akulu a wanted person for absconding after embezzling GH¢74,937 being court fees.
“Joseph Akulu, if he is listening to this Committee, we are directing that he should just report himself to the Police, so that we will have negotiations on how he can pay the money back to the Judicial Service.
“That will be the best way to go. But if he thinks that he can hide, you will run away but you cannot hide permanently. You will be one day arrested,” Dr Avedzi said.
“Anybody listening to this sitting, who knows Joseph Akulu, should immediately inform him that this is what the Committee of Parliament is directing-that he should report himself to have negotiations with the Judicial Service to pay the money back to the state.”
Mrs Takyi was in the House to respond to issues raised in the 2019 Auditor-General’s Report concerning the Judicial Service.
According to Report court fees totally GH¢198,042 376 was misappropriated in 2018.
Regulation 22 of Financial Administration Regulations (FAR) 2004 states that all public money collected shall be paid in gross into the Public Funds Accounts and no disbursement shall be made from the money collected except as provided by an enactment.
Contrary to the above regulation, the report said their examination of revenue accounts by three Courts showed that in 2018, out of total cash revenue of GH¢685,743.96 collected by the cashiers, only GH¢487,701.70 was paid into the designated bank accounts leaving a difference of GH¢198,042.26 unaccounted for.
The report indicated that Akulu misappropriated GH¢74,937.00, while Erica Sarpong, a Cashier at the Kaneshie Court misappropriated GH¢121,470.26, whereas that of Mr Richard Ovulley, a Cashier at Donkorkrom Magistrate was GH¢1,635.00.
Mrs Takyi said regarding the Abeka District Court, when the incident happened, a disciplinary committee was set-up and Akulu appeared before it, where he promised to pay back the money, however, before they realized he had absconded.
She said they reported Akulu’s alleged embezzlement to the Tesano Police District Command.
She explained to the Committee that their bankers were not there to receive the court fees at Kaneshie and because of that the cashier did the collection and later handed it over to the bankers.
She said their internal audit report indicated that sometimes when the bankers got to Akulu, he said “the lights are off, so, they cannot do any cash collection.”
Touching on control measures put in place by the Judicial Service, Mrs Takyi said: “We have put steps in place to curtail future embezzlement, by asking all cashiers to have guarantors and currently we have bonded all cashiers in the Judicial Service.”
“Everyone (Cashier) is supposed to provide a guarantor, so that we fall on these guarantors when something happens.”
The Finance Director said their internal auditors now conduct regular monthly checks on their cashiers.
She said the Judicial Council had put in measures in place for constant monitoring and constant cross spot checks of cashiers to be done by auditors and Management as well.
Concerning Erica Sarpong, the Finance Director indicated that after the external audit, the Service also did an internal audit, and it was realized that there was no shortage in revenue and that she had no difference in outstanding.
Mrs Takyi said Richard Ovulley paid part of the money he misappropriated back to the Judicial Service, and that upon further investigations, they realized that there were payment vouchers, which he had made and that his amount was reduced to GH¢833.00.
She said Richard Ovulley later refunded the amount, stating that he appeared before a committee, and he had since been dismissed from the service.