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19.02.2007 General News

$240,000 For Abodakpi Daughter's Fees

By statesman

July 12, 2001, NDC Minister of Trade, Dan Abodakpi told the Fast Track High Court in Accra that although a Lebanese businessman, whom he mentioned as Charles Moukarzel, fully paid for his daughter's university education in the United Kingdom, he did not know the exact amount involved.

What was not disclosed was that the money came from a company, Irani Brothers, that before divestiture, Mr Abodakpi sat on its board and also saw to its divestiture in 1993 as again a board member of the Divestiture Implementation Committee.

He said the daughter (name withheld), earned his first degree at the East London University (formerly the North East London Polytechnic) in the UK between 1996 and 1999. Evidence seen by The Statesman indicates that £50,000 ($100,000) was transferred to Ms Abodakpi"s student's account with the Barking branch of the Midland Bank in her last ten months at the University of East London's Barking Campus (Longbridge Road, which is now closed down.)

After completion, Ms Abodakpi proceeded to the A & M University in Texas in the United States for her post-graduate studies, the very school that Fred Owusu Boadu was serving at the time as Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics. Dr Boadu is the missing consultant in the two cases, which led to the imprisonment of Messrs Victor Selormey and Dan Abodakpi.

Between April 11, 2000 and April 4, 2001, $140,000 was transferred from the same source into Ms Abodakpi's personal account, this time with the First National Bank, Texas. The transfers have been confirmed by the Union Bank of Switzerland, which did the remittances, through an Irani Brothers' account operated by Mr Moukarzel. The MD has said on record that he was instructed by his father-in-law to transfer the money (about $240,000) into Mr Abodakpi's daughter's account as a 'scholarship.'

Checks made by The Statesman show that even for the 2006-2007 academic year, the fees international students are charged to study undergraduate degrees in the UK vary from £6,700 at the University of East Anglia, to £16,690 at the Royal Veterinary College. The University of London now charges £9,000 - a rise of about £3,500 in the last eight years alone.

But, Mr Moukarzel was just not a 'friendly' businessman to the Abodapki's. Since 1980, until his recent migration from Ghana, Mr Moukarzel was the Managing Director of Irani Brothers, a flour milling company in Ghana. His father-in-law is the majority shareholder in the company.

The payment into his daughter's account has all the alleged trappings of a kickback. Mr Abodapki was a member of the DIC from 1992 to the end of 2000; he was a member of the mill's board from 1987 until 1997 and held the following ministerial positions at the Ministry of Trade and Industry: Deputy PNDC Secretary, 1992; Deputy Minister, 1993; Minister, 1999 to 2000.

Irani Brothers, situated in Tema in the Greater Accra Region, was established over 30 years ago. The Government of Ghana owned 148,350 Class D Shares, (30.4 percent), of the total shares of the mill.

In July 1987 Mr Abodapki, then Special Assistant to the Political Counsellor for Committees for the Defence of the Revolution, was appointed by the PNDC government as one of its two its representatives on the Board of Directors of the company, where he remained a member of the Board until 1993 when Government sold off its 30 percent shares in the mill.

As the Accra Daily Mail disclosed in its Friday October 29, 2004 edition, in April 1992 Irani Brothers expressed a desire to acquire the shares of the government by a letter to the PNDC Secretary of Finance and Economic Planning with copies to the chairman of the Divestiture and the PNDC Secretary for Industry, Science and Technology.

From April 1992, negotiations were carried out between the DIC and the company and various documents and records were submitted by the company to the DIC as a result of which in May 1993, Government's shares were transferred to the other shareholders for a total of ¢571,140,000, which was paid to the DIC.

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