The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has sacked its Head of Legal Affairs, Mrs. Cynthia Dapaah-Ntow.
This was after a disciplinary committee found her guilty of misconduct.
An internal memo on Tuesday evening by the Head of Human Resource reads:
“Management would like to inform Staff that effective 18th May 2021, Mrs. Cynthia Dapaah-Ntow, Head of Legal, will cease to be a staff of the FDA. The decision was arrived at after Mrs. Cynthia Dapaah-Ntow was taken through the internal disciplinary process of the Authority, following a charge of misconduct leveled against her.
“The Disciplinary Committee recommended to the Board that the appointment of Mrs. Cynthia Dapaah-Ntow be terminated. The Board has subsequently accepted the recommendation and given her the required notice of termination of appointment.
“The Staff are also hereby informed that the Investigative Committee exonerated the CEO of all allegations of wrongdoing on her part.
“Management appreciates the patience exhibited by all Staff while the disciplinary process lasted.
“As a matured [sic] regulatory agency whose core values include transparency, fairness, and integrity, the Authority reiterates its zero-tolerance for bribery and corruption and reaffirms its commitments to the staff.”
In November 2020, Manasseh Azure Awuni released an investigative report titled “The Returned Bribe” in which the CEO of the COA FS food supplement, Prof. Samuel Ato Duncan, alleged the FDA attempted to extort money from him when his product gained popularity in the wake of the COVID-19.
In the investigative report, Mrs. Cynthia Dapaah-Ntow was cited in a $200,000 bribery saga. She allegedly demanded a bribe of $100,000 for the CEO of the FDA and another $100,000 for herself.
This happened at the same period FDA, in April 2020, suspended the production license of COA FS, citing breaches in safety protocols.
The CEO of COA FS said he suspected foul play in the FDA’s approach and contacted the Head of Legal to complain and seek advice on how to handle the situation. According to him, it was at a meeting to discuss the issues that Mrs. Dapaah-Ntow demanded the money.
Professor Ato Duncan returned the following day with GHC500,000 (the cedi equivalent of $100,000) for the CEO of the FDA and another GHC100,000 for the Head of Legal.
Mrs. Dapaah-Ntow later called him to come back for the money because the CEO of the FDA had rejected the money.
In that phone conversation, which was recorded, Mrs. Dapaah-Ntow is heard arguing with Professor Samuel Ato Duncan that the agreement was to give both the CEO of the FDA and her (the Head of Legal) $100,000 each. She said her cash of GHC100,000 was far less than the amount agreed.
“And we said okay bring her $100,000. And I asked you a specific question; [about mine] how much? Then you said the same amount,” she is heard in the audio.
“That’s what you said, Prof. We never discussed 100,000 cedis at all… Because $100,000, if you were giving her that, would translate into 587 [587,000 cedis]. Is that not correct? Assuming you were giving her cedi equivalent, that’s 587 [587,000 cedis].”
Prof. Ato Duncan said he thought it was $100,000 for the CEO of the FDA and 100,000 cedis for the Head of Legal Affairs.
Asked why he gave the money knowing that it was illegal to pay a bribe, Prof. Duncan said he suspected foul play and decided to play along. He added that in the process, he was in touch with the Greater Accra Regional Director of the National Bureau of Investigations (NIB), whom he fed updates of the scheme including exchanges between him and the Cynthia Dapaah-Ntow.