As the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigations into alleged financial impropriety at the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation intensify, reasons for the investigations are emerging.
Investigations by the Times indicate that the SFO is among other things investigating a a numbers of financial transactions, projects and some unauthorized payments by the management of the State broadcaster.
Among other issues, the SFO is investigating the circumstance leading to the payment of some huge legal fees which were not approved by the Board of the Corporation.
Documents available to the Times indicate that although the previous Board, chaired by Most Rev. Dr. Samuel Asante-Antwi, in 2007, directed that the payment of the legal fees for Louis Darko, GBC Divisional Union Chairman in a suit brought against him by the Ms. Eva Lokko, former GBC Director-General, from the coffers of the corporation, the management continued paying the fees, the last one being GHc37, 054.
In the approved minutes of the board on September 12, 2007, the board noticed that GBC had paid 35million as legal fees in respect of the Eva Lokko Versus Louis Darko case without recourse to the previous board.
The Board decided to discontinue the payment of the legal fees for Mr. Louis Darko because the action which resulted in Ms Lokko suing him was not authorized by the Corporation.
But the Mr. William Ampem Darko, the Director-General of the Corporation, who was part of the decision to stop the payment, allegedly ignored it and authorized the payment of further legal fees for Mr. Louis Darko who was sued by Ms. Lokko for some alleged unsavory statements.
According to the documents, although the Board authorized discontinuation of the legal fees in 2007, the management raised a payment voucher number 002705 on February 12, 2009 to pay a bill of GHc 37,054 from John Opoku chambers.
According the bill dated February 2, 2009, the fee covered legal services rendered to Mr. Louis Darko from January 10, 2006 to December 15, 2008.
An official receipt number 054 issued by John Opoku chambers for the payment is dated March 11, 2009.
Buttressing the discontinuation of the payment, the board in a Memo to all board members and Director of Finance, said that GBC could only bear the cost of litigation of an employee if it is established that that employee was performing official duties.
“It is not GBC that has been sued in this particular instance but an employee. Granted that Mr. Louis Darko was acting in his capacity as GBC Divisional Union Chairman, then this bill should be directed to the Public Services Workers Union of the TUC for settlement, and not GBC,” the memo said.
But all these were ignored by the management.
Meanwhile, the staff of the corporation remain divided over the SFO investigations of the management of GBC, with some prepared to resist attempts to interdict Mr. Ampem Darko while others are calling for his head.
The SFO has directed the immediate interdiction of the Mr. Ampem Darko, to pave way for investigations into alleged financial impropriety at GBC.
A letter from the SFO dated April 6, 2010, and addressed to the Board Chairman of GBC, requested the interdiction of Mr. Ampem Darko and three others by Friday, April 9, 2010.
The letter signed by SFO’s Deputy Exective Director, Justice A.Y.Tsar, and copied to the Minister of Information and Chairman of the National Media Commission, said also requested the interdiction of stepping aside of Mr. Oscar Nshor, Director of Technical Production, Augustus Yamson, Director of Engineering and Eric Odonkor, Chief Engineer, Transmission.