The Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) has so far recovered GH¢30 million from officials implicated in the multi-million-cedi fraud at the secretariat of the National Service Scheme (NSS).
The money, according to a highly placed BNI source, was retrieved from 150 regional and district directors of the NSS beginning from January this year.
So far, 171 individuals, including the former Executive Director of the scheme, Alhaji Imoro Alhassan, have been implicated in the scandal, which involves GH¢80.1 million.
Regional and district directors of the scheme have a total liability of GH¢49 million, while directors at the NSS headquarters are accountable for a refund of GH¢31.1 million.
Late last year, the BNI succeeded in striking a deal with the suspects who embezzled various sums of money to refund the amounts invested.
Alhaji Alhassan was listed among 23 individuals who paid a total of GH¢200,000 bribe to BNI officials to halt the investigations.
He was alleged to have paid GHc100,000 out of the amount, while the next highest amount of bribe paid to BNI officials was GH¢26,000.
According to the source, some of the implicated directors had entered into an agreement with the BNI and were currently refunding the money, which was part of the amount paid to 30,816 non-existent national service persons from September 2013 to August 2014.
Information gathered by the Daily Graphic, which first broke the scandal in October last year, indicated that the fraud was perpetrated through mandatory, voluntary and overpayment of returns.
The breakdown showed that 29,358 ghost names were generated for the mandatory scheme, while 853 and 605 names were generated for the voluntary and overpayment returns respectively.
The source declined to disclose the names of the directors who were refunding the money, with the explanation that the bureau did not intend to contravene the agreement between it and the directors.
It explained that the BNI’s immediate concentration after completing the investigations was on retrieving all the stolen funds, adding, “We are still in the process of retrieving the money and that is our focus.”
Pleading with Ghanaians to have faith in the BNI to bring the case to its logical conclusion, the source said, “The number of persons involved is big. We must, therefore, not be stampeded into hurriedly handing over the docket.”
“We wish to assure Ghanaians of the BNI’s resolve to work diligently to protect citizens, foreigners and the public purse at all material times,” it added.
Alhaji Alhassan is currently standing trial at the Financial Division of the High Court, where he has pleaded not guilty to the charge of stealing GH¢86.9 million.
He has been granted bail in the sum of GH¢90 million, with three sureties, all to be justified. He is to reappear in court on April 21, 2015.
Source: Daily Graphic