Intelligence personnel close to the Ministry of Harbours and Railways have uncovered the activities of a fraud syndicate operating in the Ministries and defrauding unsuspecting businessmen of sums running into several millions of cedis. The syndicate, whose operations are carried out by designing letter heads of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) also go as far as forging the signatures of Ministers, Chief Directors and other high profile personalities in the public service.
Investigations by The Independent newspaper have established that the modus operandi of such fraudulent syndicates is the forgery and faking of official stationery to convince the unsuspecting businessmen and thereby enable them (the fraudsters) to swindle them of huge sums of cash in the name of doing official business with them.
One of the ministries that has been hardest hit in recent times by the activities of this cartel of professional fraudsters, The Independent has learnt, is the Ministry of Harbours and Railways, where there have been a great deal of behind the scenes activities towards the revamping of the railway sector. The Independent during its investigations sighted a letter dated February 5, 2007 on the letterhead of the Ministry of Harbours and Railways with the signature of the Minister, Professor Christopher Ameyaw Ekumfi duly signed but both the letterhead and the signatures are forgeries.
The letter which bears the title of "Finance and Supplies" sought to create the erroneous and false impression to unsuspecting businessmen who the fake documents are intended to hook that an Accra-based construction company had been given the authority to dispose of all metal rail scraps amounting to some 400 metric tons. The forged letter, which is addressed to the Managing Director of Shelfron Construction Company Limited, and which is purported to have been written by the Minister for Harbours and Railways, is said to have empowered one Dr. Dosey Asumah as an auctioneer to sell used rail as metal scrap in the stead of Shelfron Company.
Meanwhile, efforts by the Independent newspaper to find the whereabouts of Shelfron Company through the communication information it has provided hit a brik wall and their own letterhead – on which they had made certain offers to their prospective clients – are full of inaccuracies.
The company, which claims to be located in Awoshie gives two telephone numbers on its letterhead, but the numbers that are to be used in contacting them (028-708761 and 0244-01165) clearly have only nine digits each instead often digits.
It was the same problem with Shelfron's fax number (0246-81644); it also has nine digits instead of ten. The Independent newspaper said it can also confirm that there are other unscrupulous characters that have also jumped into this scrap business making all kinds of moves to swindle unsuspecting people. Another case in point uncovered by The Independent is the move by a Ghanaian-based company called Oak International Company that claims to be Importers and Exporters, Contractors, Marketing Consultants.
Oak International has made an offer to sell 2.6 million metric tons of rail scraps to Global Black Star Trading Company Limited. Oak International, according to Mr. Tod D. Sims, the Business Owner of Global Black Star Trading Oak International, claimed to have legal rights to sell the used rail scraps, and in accordance with best business practices, he decided to cross-check the fact with the ministry before signing the contract. "But for that move by Mr. Tod D. Sims to verify the authenticity of the deal, the man would have been defrauded of huge sums of-money," said an official at the Railways Ministry who was speaking to The Independent.
The paper said its investigations also uncovered a letter dated December 12, 2006, purportedly signed by the Chief Director of the Trade Ministry and creating the erroneous impression that the company, Oak International has been duly authorized by the Trades Ministry to transact such business. Oak international attached certificates to commence business and of incorporation to a very detailed document it sent to Mr. Ted Sims all in an attempt to convince him on the authenticity of the deal.
Checks to find out who are behind this second company proved fruitless, as the cell phone number provided Mr. Ted Sims happened to be that of a business centre located at Taifa in Accra. Meanwhile, The Ministry of Harbours and Railways has in a letter of February 23, 2007 officially lodged a complaint with the Ghana Police Service to investigate the Oaks International.
The letter signed by I. W. Dodd, Chief Director of the Ministry and titled "Railway Scraps", states "We wish to bring to your esteemed attention an e-mail from Global Black Star Trading Company, an American Company, which has been approached by OAKS International Company Ltd., Accra, in connection with the sale of railway scraps." The letter which is addressed to the Inspector-General of Police, continues, "We believe that the Oaks International Company Ltd is engaged in a fraudulent activity in connection with railway scraps, because there is currently a ban on the sale of railway scraps.
Furthermore, no organisation has been given the contract to purchase or dispose of any railway scraps. Therefore OAKS International Company's claim that it has been given the contract to dispose of railway scraps is fraudulent and deceitful." It therefore requested the IGP to institute a probe into the matter and bring the company to book.
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