A lawyer representing five out of 34 suspects in the infamous National Service Fraud scandal has challenged claims by the outgoing NSS boss Dr Kpessa Whyte that he supervised the reduction of the number of personnel on the payroll from 75,000 to 40,000.

Lawrence Arhinkora told an Accra High Court Friday, at the time Dr Whyte was appointed as head of the institution the number of personnel on the roll was 40,000 and not 75,000.

He was cross-examining Dr Whyte in a case in which former workers of the NSS are standing trial for  conspiracy to commit crime, giving bribe to influence a public officer and stealing.

The suspects include Alhaji Alhassan Mohammed Imoro, a former NSS Executive Director, who is alleged to have supervised the rot and systematic corruption at the Service.

A Bureau of National Investigations report suggests between September 2013 to August 2014 Alhaji Imoro and 34 others including all regional directors and other senior officers bloated the payroll with as many as with 31,516 ghost names for both the National Service postings and the National Voluntary Service recruitment.

All these ghost names benefitted from GHȻ243.00 and GHȻ350 paid to national service persons in that year suggesting the money went into the pockets of those who were behind the plot.

All the suspects have denied the allegations against them. However, Dr Kpessah Whyte who took over from Alhaji Alhassan Mohammed Imoro told the court early on that he had personally supervised the reduction in the number on the service payroll from 75,000 to 40,000 giving credence to the claim that the payroll had been bloated with ghost names.

Alhaji Imoro has on several occasions requested the appearance Dr Kpessah Whyte to substantiate the claims he but he failed to turn up on the four occasions the court sat.

However on Friday Dr Whyte made his first appearance in court and was cross-examined by lawyers of the accused persons.

Lawrence Arhinkora demanded to know from Dr Whyte whether he conducted any audit of the payroll before proceeding to cut down the figure.

Joy News' Ackah Blay reported Dr Whyte as saying he requested the audit to be done by the Audit service insisting that he supervised the removal on the payroll.

But Arhinkra stated in the year in question the number of service personnel reported in the budget was 40,000 and 75,000 for which reason Dr Whyte cannot claim to have removed any ghost name.

Lawyer Egbert Faibille who is counsel for a number of the suspects also stepped up to cross-examine Dr Whyte, Blay reported. The case has been adjourned.