The Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) has entered the fray concerning the contentious contract involving Strategic Mobilization Ghana Limited (SML) and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA). Taking cognizance of the sensitivity of the issue, the OSP has initiated a preliminary investigation into the contractual arrangements between these two entities.
This development was revealed in the OSP’s half-yearly report, which was unveiled on December 29, 2023. According to the report, the impetus for this investigation stems from a complaint filed on December 18, 2023, by The Fourth Estate. The OSP clarified that this complaint was presented by three journalists: Evans Aziamor-Mensah, Adwoa Adobea-Owusu, and Manasseh Azure Awuni.
The initiation of this preliminary investigation underscores the significance of the concerns raised by the media and suggests a commitment on the part of the OSP to scrutinize the contractual nuances between SML and GRA. As this investigation unfolds, it is likely to shed light on the intricacies of the controversial contract, providing clarity and transparency to the public regarding the nature of the arrangements and any potential irregularities that may have been flagged by the complainants. The involvement of the OSP adds a layer of official scrutiny to the matter, signifying a proactive stance towards addressing concerns related to public contracts and ensuring accountability within governmental agreements.
“The Office has commenced a preliminary investigation into contractual arrangements between Strategic Mobilization Ghana Limited (a company registered in Ghana) and Ghana Revenue Authority for the stated objective of the enhancement of revenue assurance in the downstream petroleum sector, upstream petroleum production, and minerals and metals resources value chain.”
The OSP stressed, “The preliminary investigation is based on a complaint filed on December 18, 2023, by The Fourth Estate (a project of the Media Foundation for West Africa), represented by three (3) journalists: Evans Aziamor-Mensah, Adwoa Adobea-Owusu, and Manasseh Azure Awuni. The complaint alleged possible corruption, including breaches of the Public Procurement Act, in respect of the contractual arrangements.”
The Office stated that it is currently looking into an additional one hundred and fifty-two (152) cases at different stages of review.
“These would be publicised if the Special Prosecutor determines that they are within the mandate of the Office and that they should be moved past the preliminary investigation stage. This is a policy intended to protect the privacy of individuals and the business operations of institutions and companies and to avoid unnecessary stigmatisation.”
This intervention comes on the back of a December 2023 expose.
The Fourth Estate published an investigative piece implicating SML, the GRA, and the Ministry of Finance. The report alleged that the GRA had granted SML a 10-year contract, generating $100 million annually, while expressing concerns about possible unethical practices.
In response, SML refuted the 10-year contract claim, asserting that it had actually been awarded a 5-year contract. Additionally, SML denied the accusation of receiving $100 million annually from the contract.
On December 20, 2023, the Ghana Revenue Authority issued a statement affirming that proper procedures were followed in securing SML’s services.
On January 3, 2024, following a directive from President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on January 2, 2024, SML complied with an order to suspend its ongoing revenue assurance operations. The President appointed KPMG, an audit, tax, and advisory services firm, to conduct an immediate audit of the transaction.
In a statement, SML expressed optimism that the audit’s findings would provide a transparent and accurate depiction of its operations.