The Supreme Court has ordered the Auditor General to immediately begin the process of surcharging any person found to have misappropriated state funds.
The seven-member panel headed by Sophia Akuffo also ordered that where applicable, criminal action should be taken against accused persons by the Attorney General.
The Supreme Court decision comes after a pressure group, Occupy Ghana, instituted an action against the Auditor General seeking an order of the court to compel them not to only report on financial misappropriations by public officials but to take steps to retrieve all state finances that may have gone into wrong hands.
Pressure Group Occupy Ghana sued the Attorney General and the Auditor General for refusing to surcharge persons who are said to have misappropriated monies belonging to the state to the tune of over GHc40 billion.
Occupy Ghana in 2014 wrote a letter to the Auditor General reminding it to surcharge such persons or face them in court.
A statement issued by the pressure group said, it filed a case against the two Generals at the Supreme Court on June 22, 2016, because several efforts to ensure that the Auditor General makes such surcharges have proved futile.
The group in the statement said, in November 2014 it wrote a letter, “reminding him [ Auditor-General,] of his powers of Disallowance and Surcharge under the Constitution, demanding that he exercises them…Subsequently we engaged several times with the Auditor-General, with a view to assisting in putting in place the structures upon which he would exercise those powers.”
“Regrettably, after a dozen letters and exchanges, and one publicized meeting on 27th March 2015, the Auditor-General has not taken any steps to exercise those powers, which would lead to the recovery of huge sums of money for the State,” the statement added.
Occupy Ghana sought from the Supreme Court “a declaration that the Auditor-General’s omission, failure, refusal or neglect to issue any Disallowances and Surcharges in respect of the above, and as appears in his successive Reports since the coming into force of the Constitution, violates the Constitution.”
The group also sought “an order of the Supreme Court directed at the Auditor-General to issue Disallowances and Surcharges to and in respect of all persons and entities found in his relevant, successive Reports to have engaged in any of the above.”
Over GHc40 billion lost in ‘irregularities
According to Occupy Ghana, a thorough study of the Auditor General report revealed that between 2003 and 2014, the total losses the state incurred in “irregularities” arising from Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies was about GH¢2,448,968,912.29.
“This is alarming, more so when we discovered further that for just the four years, 2009 and 2012 to 2014, amounts lost to Ghana from “irregularities” in Public Boards, Corporations and other Statutory Institutions was Five Billion, Seventy Two Million, Six Hundred and Eighty Six Thousand and Seven Hundred and Sixteen Ghana Cedis (GH¢5,072,686,716).
“From our projections, since the promulgation of the Constitution, the total losses to Ghana arising from “irregularities” in Public Offices, Central and Local Government Administration, Public Institutions, Public Corporations and Statutory Bodies, possibly exceeds Forty Billion Ghana Cedis (GH¢40,000,000,000),” the statement added.