SSNIT trial: Provide missing pages of contract to accused – Court to AG

The Criminal Division of the Accra High Court has ordered prosecution in the case in which former Director General of Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and four others are standing trial for causing financial loss to the state to furnish the accused persons with “missing content in the contract documents” within 3 weeks.

Mr Thompson, the immediate past DG of SSNIT, John Hagan Mensah, a former IT manager at SSNIT, Juliet Hassan Kramer, the chief executive officer of Perfect Business Systems, Caleb Kwaku Afaglo, a former Head of Management and Information Systems at SSNIT and Peter Hayibor, the lawyer for SSNIT have been charged for willfully causing financial loss to the state, regarding a contract worth $66 million.

The five have all pleaded not guilty to 29 charges preferred against them.

Motion for discoveries

Samuel Codjoe Counsel for Mr Thompson moved a “motion on notice for production of missing pages in the contract documents based on Article 19 (2) (e) and (g) of the 1992 Constitution” in court Friday.

According to him, “We are requesting the documents particulars of which are numbered and contained in the motion paper.”

He told the court that, those documents are essential and crucial to their defence, and that certain pages (2 to 34) in the contract documents were missing.

Counsel also told the court that, some of the memos and minutes they requested for were also missing.

“My Lord, the third group of documents we asked for are those that were not given to us at all. As we have averred in our exhibit, all these documents we have referred to are those that A1 (Ernest Thompson) in his then position as DG of SSNIT saw and acted on them in connection with the very matter before the court (OBS Suites projects), so that we say SSNIT is not going to have any problem providing these documents,” he said.

He said, the documents can be obtained from SSNIT and Public Procurement Authority and “it is obvious prosecution have seen these documents of which they are charging us.”

No opposition

The Director of Public Prosecution, Mrs Yvonne Atakorah Obuobisa who represented the Attorney General said the state do not opposed to the motion, except to say that they will liaise with SSNIT to furnish them with their request.

The court presided over by Justice Henry Anthony Kwofie, a Court of Appeal judge, sitting with additional responsibility as a High court judge ordered the prosecution to provide those documents to the accused persons and the court in three weeks.

The case has been adjourned to January 23, 2019.

Background

The facts according to the prosecution are that in June 2010, SSNIT developed a new software solution known as Operational Business Suit (OBS), to provide a state-of-the-art pension administration system on a turnkey basis.

Mrs Obuobisa said the Trust advertised for international competitive bidding in the media for the development and implementation of the project, and on November 15, 2012, awarded the $34, 0119,914.21 contracts to Silverlake, a Malaysian IT solutions provider, and PBS purportedly as a consortium, even though Silverlake did not participate in the bidding.

The court heard that the contract aimed to automate all the core processes in the administration of pension and integrate all internal systems as well as the external stakeholders of SSNIT.

The prosecution said the contract, which covered the head office including 55 sites was to be completed in 15 months.

The DPP told the court that contrary to the terms of the contract, Mr Thompson, Mrs Kramer and Afaglo caused payments to be made by SSNIT to OPBS for items, which were already covered by the contract, thereby ballooning the total $34,011,914.21 to $66,783,148.08 through what accused referred as “change orders” and “variations”.

The said change orders and variations, the prosecutor noted were carried out at the instance of Mr Thompson, Mensah, Kramer and Afaglo, adding that some of the payments were above the threshold of the former SSNIT boss.

On January 15, 2016, the prosecutor said SSNIT entered into a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with PBS/Silverlake for $2,570,976.41 per annum for maintenance and warranty for three years.

She said although maintenance and warranty agreement was executed in 2016, payment started in 2014 when no service had been rendered.

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