Payroll fraud uncovered at YEA

Payroll fraud uncovered at YEA

Mr Justin Koduah Frimpong, CEO of the YEA, addressing the media

Mr Justin Koduah Frimpong, CEO of the YEA, addressing the media

The Youth Employment Agency (YEA)  has saved the state GH¢20, 206,800 in four months following the deletion of 16,839 ghost names from the payroll of the agency.

Additionally, as part of a physical verification exercise undertaken by the agency to expose financial malfeasance committed by the previous management, the agency has between February and May, this year, stopped the payment of GH¢17, 331,600 to 14,443 non-existing beneficiaries.

Presenting a situational report of the YEA at a news conference in Accra yesterday, the acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the agency, Mr Justin Kodua Frimpong, said an internal audit team, which was commissioned to conduct a special audit into the operations of the YEA in 45 selected districts and regional offices across the country, revealed disturbing findings.

Audit findings

Explaining the rationale for the audit, Mr Frimpong said the current management was bequeathed with about 63,000 beneficiaries and a cursory audit of that figure, in respect of the payroll system, exposed some discrepancies.

He explained, for instance, that the payroll submitted for approval in January this year indicated that some beneficiaries were owed as far back as May 2016 and that 2,999 beneficiaries, who had vacated their post, continued to draw allowances.

Mr Frimpong said in view of those anomalies, the YEA suspended the payment of allowances in order to conduct a comprehensive audit into the payroll, which decision was duly communicated to the beneficiaries in a statement on February 19, 2017.

He said following its search, the audit team deleted the names of the 2,999 people, who had vacated their post but still continued to draw allowances.

According to Mr Frimpong, the action had saved the nation GH¢4,270,800 in four months.

“In effect, for each month, the tax payer was saved GH¢1, 067,700,” Mr Frimpong said, adding that unearned allowances to beneficiaries, not at post, amounted to GH¢1, 247,300, according to the audit report

Still on the findings, he said, funds meant for official purposes and paid into personal accounts amounted to GH¢5, 433,261 and added that procurement without adherence to due process stood at GH¢85,563.

Mr Frimpong further expressed worry about the recruitment of people into the agency without either appointment letters or signed letters from the CEO.

Findings of physical verification

From the findings, he stated that 2,716 so-called beneficiaries did not have appointment letters, yet the agency was paying them GH¢814, 800 monthly, which translated into GH¢3, 259,200 for the four-month period the audit was carried out.

Similarly, he pointed out that some appointment letters were issued in March and April this year bearing the name and signature of the former CEO, Mr Kwabena Beecham, at which time he (Beecham) was not in office.

He further talked about the fact that 9,442 beneficiaries, who were above the requirement age for engagement into the YEA, were paid a total of GH¢2,832,600 monthly as allowances translating into GH¢11,330,400 in four months.

Mr Frimpong said 4,681 beneficiaries, who vacated post within the four-month period received GH¢5, 617,200 and that those who had no duty letters but assumed post would have been paid a total of GH¢13, 814,400, had it not been for the vigilance of the verification team.

He regretted that some district directors of the YEA connived with some beneficiaries to participate in a verification exercise knowing very well that those beneficiaries had vacated their post and gave an assurance that further investigations would be conducted and those found culpable would face the full rigours of the law.

Way forward

On the way forward, Mr Frimpong said management was dealing with the challenges that had plagued the agency over the period and, in collaboration with the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, it had resolved to strengthen internal control mechanisms of the agency in order to forestall a reocurrence of malfeasance.

“In our quest to position the agency to effectively perform its core mandate and to avoid future occurrence of the aforementioned challenges, the agency is embarking on staff movement within departments, units, districts and the regions,” the acting CEO stressed.

Metamorphosis and corruption

The YEA was originally inaugurated as the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) by former President J.A. Kufuor in October 2006, but had its name changed to the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) in 2012 and later to its current name. The YEA derives its mandate from the Youth Employment Act 2015 (Act 887).

In 2013, former President John Mahama instructed the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to retrieve money illegally paid to individuals and companies through contracts with the then GYEEDA, the Savannah Accelerated Development Agency (SADA) and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

The National Coordinator of the GYEEDA at the time, Mr Abuga Pele, and the Managing Director of Goodwill Consultancy Firm, a contractor, Mr Philip Akpene Assibit, were prosecuted for misappropriation of funds at the agency and are currently standing trial.

The former NDC government announced that it had retrieved GH¢14.5 million as part of illegal money paid to contractors under the former GYEEDA.

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