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Dr Chia Rose Blames Accountant

Former Coordinator of the South West Provincial Technical Group for the Fight Against AIDS, Dr Chia Rose (Mrs Fochingong) has blamed her management accountant at the time for not collecting acknowledgments for receipt of FCFA 1.6 million worth of per diems during seminars and training sessions organised in the then South West Province.

The said sum was one of the counts for which Dr. Chia Rose was answering yesterday, May 28, 2013 at the Special Criminal Court in Yaounde as defence witness in the suit pitting her, former Health Minister, Urbain Olanguena Awono and four others for the embezzlement of FCFA 287 million meant for the fight against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

Dr. Chia Rose is answering charges of embezzlement of FCFA 89 million in unjustified bank withdrawals, FCFA 67 million in unjustified bank transfers and FCFA 1.6 million in payments for per diems without acknowledgement receipts from beneficiaries.

During examination-in-chief, Dr Chia Rose explained that her role during the organisation of seminars and workshops was to make available funds while the management accountant (from an external audit firm) had to ensure that the funds were used for planned activities as well as ensure the quality of justifying documents, in particular acknowledgement receipts. After the activity, she continued, the justifying documents (acknowledgement receipts) were sent to the Central Technical Group of the National Committee for the Fight Against AIDS for forwarding to the National Sinking Fund.

As long as there was no complaint, she explained, there was no way of verifying if seminar participants had received their money. "The management accountant from the Ernst and Young audit firm has to answer for the FCFA 1.6 million attributed to me," she told the court.

Questioned by her lawyer, Barrister Ayissi on unjustified bank transfers amounting to FCFA 67 million, Dr Chia Rose first expressed surprise that prosecution had dropped the amount from the initial FCFA 87.5 million. She said FCFA 6 million was transferred before she took office on September 11, 2004 but that the sum of FCFA 81.5 million was disbursed during her tenure to local committees for the fight against AIDS.

http://cameroon-tribune.cmIn producing the bank statements to the State Audit Control mission, the bank did not include the names of beneficiaries and their bank accounts. For that reason, she tendered as evidence lists of beneficiaries and their bank accounts. Before tendering five volumes of justifying documents to court which the latter considered admissible, she also mentioned the report of a judicial experts commissioned by the Examining Magistrate which played to her favour, establishing that there was no embezzlement of funds.

During cross-examination, Dr. Chia Rose said for money to be withdrawn, the activity had to be planned and budgeted for and all the activities sponsored respected the procedure. When Barrister Nguefack Augustin questioned Dr. Chia on the justifying documents for the FCFA 89 million tagged as unjustified bank withdrawals, she said she provided justifying documents amounting to FCFA 201 million for the purpose in volumes 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the documents she had tendered. She said the justifying documents she presented in court came from the management accountant but that she did not see what was tendered to the State Audit team because the members took away justifying documents without leaving copies and she did not have access to the said documents.

On re-examination, Dr Chia confirmed that the report from judicial experts favoured her. However, when the college of judges presided by Mr. Justice Francis Moukouri drew her attention to the mission's allegation that she disappeared during the last day of the audit mission, Dr. Chia said she was on permission to attend an interview with UNICEF that had previously been postponed thrice. As at press time, Urbain Olanguena Awono was testifying as Dr. Chia's witness. The hearing continues today, May 29, 2013 with another component of the case.