An Accra High Court has ruled that Auditor-General, Daniel Domelevo breached the rules of natural justice in the manner he handled the $1m Kroll and Associates audit.
Mr. Domelevo in December 2019 issued a surcharge against Senior Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Michael Ayensu, Abraham Kofi Tawiah, Eva Mends, and Patrick Nomo, all of the Ministry of Finance.
Auditor General had argued that the auditing firm, Kroll and Associates was paid for no work done aside from the fact that the contract did not obtain approval from Parliament and the Public Procurement Authority.
Mr. Maafo and the officials of the Ministry of Finance dragged the Auditor General to the High Court asking that it sets aside the surcharge.
They argued that Mr. Demelevo came to a wrong finding of facts when he concluded in the absence of proof before him that the contract had not been performed.
They also contended that Kroll and Associates had carried out work and that the Auditor General breached the rules of natural justice not offering them a fair hearing.
They urged the court to hear aspects of the matter in chambers due to the sensitive nature of the work done by the Kroll and Associates, some of which are matters being handled by the Ministry of National Security.
The Court presided over by Justice AfiaAsareBotwe took the view that the request for an in-camera hearing be referred to the Supreme Court for a determination.
The Auditor General, Daniel Domelevo at the time the matter was referred to the Supreme Court was asked by the Presidency to take his 123 days accumulated leave with his Deputy Johnson AkuamoahAsiedu named as Acting Auditor General.
This leave was later extended to 167 days by the Presidency effective July 1, 2020.
The Supreme Court had asked that the Auditor General inspects the work said to have been carried out by the Kroll and Associates at the Ministry of National Security.
This was carried out by Mr. Akuamoah Asiedu who had commenced work.
He informed the Supreme Court, he found the documents to be “satisfactory” leading the Apex Court to say the reference to it by Justice AsareBotwe was therefore moot.
The matter therefore returned to the High Court for continuation.
Lawyers for Mr. Marfo presented documents showing they had written to Mr. Domelevo in the cause of his audit informing him that the work done by Kroll was available at the Office of the Senior Minister for Inspection.
They contended that Mr. Domelevo nonetheless proceeded to issue the surcharge.
Justice Botwo noted that when the matter was referred to the Supreme Court, the Auditor General’s Office has indicated its satisfaction with the work done.
She therefore stated “had the respondent (Auditor-General) not been hasty, and had the respondent’s office taken up the offer to inspect the documents which would be made available for inspection, the whole issue of whether or not work had been done would have been resolved without this convoluted tortuous legal battle”.
She proceeded to hold that the Auditor General came to a wrong finding of fact when he concluded that the contract had not been performed.
Justice Botwe also ruled that the payment was not wrongful and that the Auditor General erred by holding the view that the agreement required parliamentary approval.
She further stated that the Auditor General should have communicated his decision not to inspect the documents when the offer was made to him as required by due process.
Failure to do so, Justice Botwe said amounted to breach of well-known rules of natural justice.
This judgment means the Senior Minister Is no longer required to refund the $1m.