How soldiers looted J.K. Siaw
In the wake of the overwhelming call for the return of his assets to the family of the late J.K. Siaw, one of Ghana’s foremost business magnates, it has emerged that agents of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council seized not only his multi-million dollar brewery but virtually all his property to pay the ¢10m he supposedly owed. Gold ornaments, vehicles, furniture, cooking utensils, carpets, building materials and cash were among the numerous items that uniformed men led by Flying Officer Odoi and Captain Huppenbaur wrenched from the Siaw homes. They claimed that they were going to sell all those items to defray taxes owed by Tata Brewery which was owned by Siaw.
One of the many authentic documents available to The Ghanaian Chronicle on the Tata Brewery saga indicates that on 20 June 1979, Flying Officer Odoi, who did most of the errands for the AFRC by looting property and arresting all manner of people including the Army generals who were later shot by firing squad and hauling them to the Gondar Barracks, went to the residence of Siaw at the Airport residential area, ransacked the entire house including bedrooms.
Like armed robbers, they took away one box of gold ornaments, weighed in 1976 at the value of ¢45m to be used as collateral for a second brewery planned for Kumasi, one gold wrist watch costing 3,000 pounds sterling with the cedi value of ¢18,000 in those days, 50 bundles of ten cedi notes amounting to ¢500,000, a signed cheque meant for three months, deposit for renting a crane, two signed Barclays Bank blank cheque books and others valued over ¢45.7m.
Between 27 June and 10 July 1979, another group led by Captain Happenbaur stormed the warehouses of Tata Brewery stormed the warehouses of Tata Brewery Ltd, Siaw Ltd, Asante Trading Co. Ltd. And Joseph Appedu Siaw and collected a large quantity of American made carpets, quantities of wall tiles, decorating and plain blades, cases of aluminium louvre blades, sinks and bathroom decorating materials, 65 sets of aluminium cooking utensils and 201 cartons of Chinese ladies shoes.
Also taken away were 2,430 cartons of beer and empty bottles, two electric industrial sewing machines, documents of a number of bank accounts, building materials and cash-
all amounting to ¢65.8m.
The vehicles collected which were priced in German deutse marks were 12 Mercedes Benz cars, 22 Opek Kadetts, three Peugeot 504 pick ups, seven Man Diesel trucks, 30 tons with long trawlers, three Peugeot saloon cars, and a number of car engine blocks valued at DM 2.9m. A complete set of band instruments valued at DM 360,000 was also not spared.
Chronicle investigations revealed that J.K. Siaw, before his death, wrote series of petitions to the PNDC government led by Flt Lt Jerry Rawlings who was the leader of the AFRC, drawing the government’s attention to the cruelty and brutality he and his family had gone through and the need to return those items looted from his houses and company warehouses, but Rawlings and his government never responded to any of these petitions till the man died in exile.
With all these shocking revelations, one wonders why the AFRC used the debt Siaw owed the country to confiscate his factory and other property and bank accounts. Flying Officer Odoi was said to have told relatives of Siaw that he handed over the items seized from Siaw’s residence to Flt Lt Rawlings, Capt Kwadwo Boakye Djan, Major M.K. Gbedemah, Staff Sgt Alex Adjei and other members of the AFRC who sent him.
When The Ghanaian Chronicle last checked, Flying Officer Odoi had sunk into obscurity, somewhere in Canada while Capt Huppenbaur was said to have once worked for the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation but is difficult to trace now.
In any case, since the acts were said to have been committed in the name of the AFRC, the paper sought the reaction of the office of Flt Lt Rawlings who chaired the council. His aide, Victor Smith, whom the paper talked to directed it to Kwamena Ahwoi.