Former Director-General of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Ernest Thompson, has dismissed the PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PWC’s) report which allegedly indicted him for his role in the failed Information Technology (IT) project – Operational Business Suite (OBS) initiative of the Trust.
He also denied reports that he had been charged with causing financial loss to the state to the tune of over $72 million.
According to him, he has never been made aware of any investigation or audit undertaken by PWC, adding that he has never been called to give his side of the story in the whole alleged fraud saga.
In a press statement signed by his solicitor, Tetteh Mensah of Baako Apem Chambers, the former SSNIT boss contended that “it’s a cardinal principle of law that no one can be condemned without a hearing and no matter the scope of an investigation, our client and other persons who may be affected by the outcome of an audit must be given a hearing on the issue by auditors.”
He claimed that the management of SSNIT and some organisations had embarked on an orchestrated project aimed at whipping up negative public sentiments against him.
Ernest Thompson and three top management members of the pension fund are said to have been indicted over their alleged roles in the failed OBS project.
The other suspects are former OBS project manager John Hagan Mensah and Caleb Kweku Afaglo, who was head of IT at SSNIT and claimed to be a doctorate degree holder.
A private businesswoman, Juliet Hassana Kramer – Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Perfect Business Systems (PBS) – which led a private consortium to win the bid to install the OBS platform, is also in hot waters.
Last September, there was public outrage when it emerged that SSNIT spent about $72 million on the OBS project and in spite of the huge amount, the system could not operate as expected.
The contract had been awarded to Perfect Business System/Silver Lake Consortium, which CEO is Juliet Kramer, in 2011 during the Mills/Mahama-led National Democratic Congress administration at an initial bidding cost of $27,610,791 but by 2016 the total cost had ballooned to $66 million and later $72 million.
But Mr Ernest Thompson, in an attempt to clear his name, is claiming that the prices ballooned because of the need to purchase additional SSNIT cards and kiosks.
According to the statement, in the original scoping for the contract requirement at $34 million, provisions were made for only 400,000 cards, although the Trust had contributor population of over three million.
It said the scoping provided for only five biometric kiosks whereas SSNIT has about 54 branch offices throughout the country and all needed to be provided with the kiosks to enable contributors to access any information.
“From the above therefore, the purchases for additional cards of over 2 million and 50 kiosks in furtherance of the effective management of the project would justifiably be in the right direction which would lead also to contract price escalation automatically,” the statement said.
The statement also accused the current management of SSNIT of speaking for the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and the Office of the Attorney General by releasing the alleged outcome of the EOCO investigations.
“It is thus obvious and crystal clear that the SSNIT management has decided to do politics and in the process has adopted as its weapons – persecution and victimization of our client – and ignored the truth, evidence and facts surrounding this OBS project.”
He averred that if he and others who had been fingered in the stinking deal had all been given a hearing by the PWC, some of the misconceptions and findings of the PWC would have been totally different.
Meanwhile, the Attorney General, Gloria Afua Akuffo, has disclosed that Mr Thompson and the other three persons had not been charged with any offences.
Source: Daily Guide