GRA-SML deal: An audit report is a public record, not privileged advice to the President – Legal Practitioner

President Akufo-Addo has refused to release the report

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo must release the full KPMG report on the agreement between the Ghana Revenue Authority and the Strategic Mobilisation Limited (SML), a United States-based Ghanaian Professor, Kwaku Asare, has said.

Prof Asare says that President Akufo-Addo was wrong in refusing to release the full report.

He explained that the President commissioned the accounting and auditing firm to find facts relating to the controversial agreement. Therefore the report from this fact-finding mission should not be hidden from the public.

You can’t demand KPMG report on GRA-SML deal, it’s to guide the president – Afenyo-Markin

“An audit report is a public record, not privileged advice to the President. KPMG is a fact finder, not a Presidential advisor,” Professor Asare, also a private legal practitioner, wrote on his Facebook page.

But a friend on his Facebook Nana Kwamena Enimil replied to him in his comment section “The president says you made an allegation and he sought opinions and from KPMG to aid him decide on your allegations. What type of opinions and advice he sought and was given him is privileged. Is this a good summary?”

In response to him, Prof Asare said “No. He did not seek opinion from KPMG. He asked KPMG to find facts. Facts are not advice or opinion. Facts are not subject to protection from the public!”

The Office of the President has denied the Media Foundation for West Africa’s (MFWA) request for the full KPMG audit report on the revenue assurance contract between Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and Strategic Mobilisation Ghana Limited (SML).

GRA-SML: KPMG report is exempt information under RTI – Presidency to MFWA

MFWA applied for the full KPMG report under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The Presidency cited sections 5(1)(a) and (b)(i) of the RTI Act, stressing that it has the right to reject requests for information deemed crucial.

Moreover, the Presidency indicated that aspects of the report contain sensitive information that qualifies as “exempt information,” falling under the above provisions under the RTI Act.

This was contained in a letter addressed to the MFWA dated May 7 and signed by the Chief Director to the Chief of Staff, H. M. Wood.

The Presidency expressed regret that it couldn’t fulfill the request, citing the confidential nature of the KPMG report.

“Upon careful consideration and in accordance with sections 5 (1) (a) and (b) (i) of the RTI Act, I regret to inform you that your request has been refused. Section 5 (1) (a) and (b) (i) states that information prepared for or submitted to the President or Vice President containing opinions, advice, deliberations, recommendations, minutes, or consultations, is exempt from disclosure and that disclosure of such information would compromise the integrity of the deliberative process by revealing the thought process, considerations, and influence on decision-making reserved for the highest offices of the land.”

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“The full KPMG Audit Report comprises opinions, advice, deliberations, and recommendations that are integral to the President’s deliberative process and, therefore, qualifies as exempt information under section 5 (1) (a) and (b) (i).”

KPMG, an auditing firm, has completed and presented its report on the contract between the GRA and SML to President Akufo-Addo.

President Akufo-Addo assigned KPMG to audit the contract on January 2, 2024, initially setting a deadline of January 16, 2024, which was later extended to February 23, 2024.

According to the audit findings, SML received a total of GH¢1,061,054,778.00 from 2018 to the present while partially fulfilling its obligations.

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But the Director of Support Services at Strategic Mobilisation Limited (SML), Yaa Serwaa Sarpong, in a media engagement maintained that the claims suggesting the SML was paid GH¢1,061,054,778.00 for its revenue mobilisation contract with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) are not true.

Madam Serwaa Sarpong said SML only received 0.05 pesewas on every litre for their performance.

The KPMG report also highlighted that SML’s work has contributed to an increase in revenue in the downstream petroleum sector.

Read the Presidency’s letter below:

Presidency rejects MFWA’s requests for full KPMG report on GRA-SML deal