March 19, 2019

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey has confirmed to Parliament that some financial malpractice related to visa applications were committed in New York.

According to the Minister, some locally recruited staff of the consulate engaged in that when a thorough investigation was carried out between June and August, 2016 by a four member disciplinary committee.

She made this revelations on the floor of the House when Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa wanted to know what had been done about the allegation of corruption in the media with regards to processing Ghanaian visa at its mission to the United Nations in New York.

And the Minister disclosed that after the investigation, it was discovered that an estimated loss of revenue to the consulate was two thousand eight hundred and eight dollars (US$ 2,880); and three staff members were cited for the fraudulent behavior.

The committee recommended a punishment of suspension of a minimum of two months and a maximum of six months and those who cooperated with the committee by being honest and providing useful information to enable the committee ascertain the facts on the allegation be given the minimum punishment.

And those find to be liable were made to sign a bond of good behavior, and retained upon return to work and also reassigned from the consular section to other departments of the consulate

“The three officers were also made to refund the misappropriated funds and they did not receive salaries of the period of their suspensions”.

As a result of the development the committee made a twelve point recommendations, among them were that: office would be opened solely by home-based staff; security would be enhanced by the provision of access control and CCTV cameras.

The Minister reported to the House that since the recommendation were implemented, there has been significant improvement in the visa application process.

Also two separate audits had been carried out on the consulates and the Ministry would continue to monitor progress through revenue reports, returns among others.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/