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SML Renames from SMEL after PPA Denies Single-Source Approval Three Times, According to Report

SML Renames from SMEL after PPA Denies Single-Source Approval Three Times, According to Report

Strategic Mobilisation Ghana Limited (SML) changed its name from Strategic Mobilisation Enhancement Limited (SMEL) after the company was listed for a single source contract and the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) refused to approve the process on three separate occasions in 2017.

This is contained in the full KPMG report that was released by President Akufo-Addo on Tuesday.

The president tasked KPMG to audit the multiple contracts between SML and the Ministry of Finance and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) after an investigation by The Fourth Estate revealed several anomalies.

The company had claimed its services were curbing under-declaration, dilution, and diversion of petroleum products—the factors responsible for revenue losses in the downstream petroleum sector.

 When confronted with evidence by The Fourth Estate team that those services were being provided by different companies and the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), the Managing Director of SML, Christian Tetteh Sottie, admitted the company was not performing any of those functions. SML then proceeded to delete the false claims from the company’s website.

Despite these and other false claims the company admitted on camera, the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, initiated a process in 2023 that expanded SML’s contracts to the gold and oil producing sectors, bringing the contract sum to more than $100 million every year.

President Akufo-Addo suspended the contracts after The Fourth Estate investigation and tasked KPMG to audit and submit a report. Even though the president released a press statement on the findings, the full report provides more damning revelations about the operations of SML in its contracts with the Ministry of Finance and the GRA.

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Page 11 of the KPMG report says: “SMEL was incorporated on 14 February 2017. During the period 16 June and 14 September 2017, GRA made three (3) unsuccessful attempts to obtain PPA’s approval to single source SMEL to provide transaction audit services. On 22 November 2017, SMEL changed its name to SML.”

The report says the approval was denied because the company lacked “capacity or prior experience” in the delivery of the services.

Page 14 of the KPMG report states that the GRA proceeded to award contracts to SML without the approval of the PPA.

The report says, “On 1 June 2018, SML was appointed a subcontractor to West Blue Ghana Ltd, then a service provider to GRA, to provide transaction audit services for seven (months) period ending 31 December 2018.”

The report continues: “On 1 January 2019, GRA executed without PPA’s approval, and extended transaction audit services agreement with SML, renewable on monthly basis, following the expiration of West Blue’s contract and SML’s subcontract agreement on December 31, 2018. GRA entered into six (6) service agreements with SML, utilising the single-source method without approval from PPA, as outlined below:

  1. Transaction Audit Services— 1 June 2018
  2. Contract Extension— 1 January 2019
  3. External Price Verification Services— 1 April 2019
  4. Consolidation Services Agreement (Transaction Audit & External Verification Services) — 3 October 2019.
  5. Measurement Audit of Downstream Petroleum Products—3 October 2019.
  6. Addendum to Measurement for Downstream Petroleum Products Agreement—29 July 2020

The KPMG report said, “Evidently, GRA executed the above contracts with SML in breach of Act 663 [the Public Procurement Act] as amended.”

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