Documents in the possession of Africanstandard indicate that the National oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) is funding massive dismissal dubbed redundancy exercise at Liberia’s General Auditing Commission in an attempt for the company to thwart ongoing audit, buying time to cook its financial records.
NOCAL has been a long subject of allegations massive abuse of public resources with the Chairman of the company Board, a son to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Robert Sirleaf making major decisions and expending millions of dollars on charity programs.
With mounting calls for a comprehensive audit of NOCAL, the company according to the documents has requested the GAC for what it termed “a temporary break in” in the audit process.
In a letter dated October 4, 2012 and signed by NOCAL Board Chairman Robert Sirleaf, NOCAL congratulated the appointment of the new controversial Auditor General whose appointment continues to cause chaos at the auditing commission characterized by huge condemnation from all sectors of the Liberian society.
A recent Association of Supreme Audit Institutions (AFROSA-E) peer review carried out at the commission recently concluded in a report to the association Board that the GAC has become more political than audit with the new head dismissing qualified employees and replacing them with unqualified ones. Full details of the AFROSA-E report will be published soon.
NOCAL congratulated the new Auditor General Robert L. Kilby in its letter before making the request for the audit to be postponed stating “Congratulations on your preferment as Auditor General of Liberia. As you take on this new challenge, the Board of Directors of National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) would like to assure you of its renewed desire in fostering the already good working relationship between NOCAL and the General Auditing Commission of Liberia (GAC).
NOCAL in the letter requested the GAC to have a stay on the audit process to accordingly examine its control process of transactions that have already taken place years back.
“Following an update of the proceedings from the President/CEO’s office, and a review of the initial directive given by the Board of Directors, we realize that it is necessary for us to request a stay on the proceedings for the purpose of examining our internal control systems, ensuring that all of the necessary documentation is made available for the audit and implementing processes that will further assist the auditors in the performance of duty and enhance the secured method of documentation exchange”, NOCAL requested the GAC.
NOCAL than stated it is requesting a temporary break in the audit process “Therefore, the Board of Directors respectfully requests on behalf of NOCAL, a temporary break in the audit proceedings while we re-examine our internal control systems and attempt to ensure that the process is done correctly, efficiently and in a manner that will maximize the benefit of conducting an audit. Our audit committee stands ready to work alongside your designated focal person in order to reschedule the commencement of the audit”.
NOCAL has over the years indicated that it will willing and ready to submit to external audit, therefore the new request for time will come as a surprise to many Liberians.
“At NOCAL, I have nothing to hide and, in the spirit of my commitment to transparency, I welcome the National Oil Company’s commission of an independent audit of all expenditures related to my activities in my official capacity as Chairman.. I also insist that the report of the audit be published in keeping with the Freedom of Information Law of Liberia” NOCAL Board Chairman Sirleaf stated at a press conference recently.
NOCAL funds GAC Redundancy Exercise?
According to investigation following the letter, Auditor General Kilby held secret meeting with top NOCAL officials following which he begun the massive forceful redundancy exercise at the commission also affecting nearly all auditors assigned on the NOCAL audit.
GAC did not have a budget line item in the 2012/2013 national budget to carry out a large redundancy plan of up to 196 employees with strong indications that NOCAL is funding the exercise by providing the GAC the resources to provide severance benefits for the 196 employees earmarked to be redundant.
Alieu Konneh who served as head of the previous audit of NOCAL during the administration of former Auditor General John S. Morlu, II along with several other auditors knowledgeable in NOCAL’s operations are all affected by the redundancy exercise by the GAC.
All 196 employees including auditors and administrative staff at the GAC earmarked to be redundant all have long years of experience in the work of the GAC and assisted former Audit General Morlu in the audit of sensitive audits including the heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) audit that helped Liberia to reach debt relief.
Pundits believe an audit of NOCAL will be fruitless process given the makeup of the GAC staff that will conduct the audit and also the close relationship between Auditor General Kilby and top officials at NOCAL.