The Electoral Commission’s Chief Accountant says he is prepared to release a total of GHS432,000 in his custody if he is reinstated by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO).
The money, made up of separate amounts of GHS360,000 and GHS72,000, according to Kwaku Agyei-Larbi’s lawyers, was given to him for safekeeping “sometime in 2016” and has since been in his safe at the office.
He has not been able to release the amount to the EC because he has been on leave on the instructions of EOCO, the lawyers say in a statement.
Kwaku Agyei-Larbi, the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Finance and Administration, Georgina Amakwah as well as the Finance Officer Joseph Asamoah were interdicted by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) after initial investigations into the Commission’s staff welfare fund.
EOCO discovered that some GHS480,000 had gone missing and asked the three to proceed on leave pending investigations.
The investigations exonerated Agyei-Larbi, according to the lawyers, in relation to the welfare fund.
An of GHS360,000 that he received for safekeeping was later investigated by a five-member Committee constituted by the Chief Justice to investigate petitions for the removal from office of three of the top guns at the EC.
When subpoenaed to testify, he admitted receiving the money from Assistant Director, Electoral Service, Daniel Amenyor, adding that he kept it in a safe in his office.
In its recommendation after the investigations, the Chief Justice’s Committee asked that Agyei-Larbi “be made to pay to the Commission the amount of GHS360,000 he admitted had been in his custody in his office since 2016.
“If he is not able to pay the said amount to the EC we recommend that he is charged with stealing,” the report added.
But lawyers for Agyei-Larbi said their client can only make the money available if he is reinstated.
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The lawyers in a statement stressed that the GHS360,000 was only in their client’s custody for safekeeping because “it is only our client’s office that had a secured safe at the Commission.”
They add that once their client’s leave is revoked, he will go back to the office, retrieve the money and hand it over to the Commission.
The statement said the purpose of asking Ageyi-Larbi to proceed on leave was to allow EOCO conduct investigations into the missing GHS480,000 endowment fund.
“However, after EOCO concluded its investigations and submitted its interim report to the Attorney General, which exonerates our client our client of any wrongdoing. EOCO failed to revise its directive to the Electoral Commission or ask the Commission to recall our client from leave,” the statement continued.
According to them, several petitions to EOCO to recall their client from leave, have been ignored and had it not been for that, the money would have been released.
The statement also disclosed that the GHS360,000 was not the only money in their client’s custody.
They say the remainder of an amount of GHS4,199, 340 – GHS72,000 – brought to their client for safe keeping until further notice is also available and will be released to the Commission.
“If not for the fact that our client has been on a protracted leave, he would have made all these funds available to the Commission because his only instructions were to keep the said funds safe until further instructions on disbursement.”
The lawyers want the directive asking their client to proceed on leave revoked and also that he is recalled to resume normal duties at the EC.
They also want “protection provided for our client while he resumes work at his office and to retrieve the cash of GHS360,000 and sum of GHS73, 430 for onward deposit into a designated account of the Electoral Commission.”
They are also requesting that their client’s office is protected and kept under surveillance since the location of the funds has been revealed.