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06.12.2007 Business & Finance

Former SSNIT Boss Denies Wrongdoing

By Daily Guide

A FORMER Director General of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Charles Asare has categorically denied any underhand dealings with Masai Developers Boss, Eddie Annan.

He made the denial during the closing hearings in the case between an Accra-based private radio station, Joy FM, and Masai Developers at the Fast Track High Court in Accra recently.

Mr. Asare, who was brought in as a second witness to support the evidence of Mr. Annan, during cross examinations told the court that the appointment of Gladys Quarshie, a former employee of Masai Developers, as a Purchasing Manager of SSNIT, was a coincidence and that Mr. Annan had never discussed that fact with him.

On the contrary, Mr. Asare disagreed with suggestions by Counsel for Joy FM, Charles Zwennes that the appointment of the lady could have raised further suspicions from SSNIT staff who were already sensitive to the relationship between himself and the Masai Developers boss.

During cross examination, Mr. Asare told the court that SRT, a Canadian Company undertook a $4 million digitization project for SSNIT during his tenure as Director of SSNIT and agreed with suggestions by Mr. Zwennes that SRT was represented in the country by Masai Developers.

Counsel for Joy FM further produced documentary evidence which showed that Citcom Limited, an offshore company that Mr. Asare represented in the country, on the recommendation of the Masai Developers boss, was the actual recipient of the company fees meant for Masai under the SRT project.

Mr. Asare further denied having any prior knowledge of an invoice, drawn upon Citcoms letterhead for the payment of $114,000 to its UK accounts when documents were provided by counsel for Joy FM.

Further evidence given by Mr. Asare pointed to the selling of a 40 percent stake of SSNIT to a joint venture company set up by SRT and SSNIT under the guidance of Masai Developers to an unknown off-shore company operating under the name, Bollero Investments, for $120,000, although this joint venture company was established at a great cost to SSNIT.

When counsel for Joy FM asked for his reaction to earlier evidence by Mr. Annan that he controlled the off-shore bank accounts of Bollero Investments, Mr. Asare expressed surprise and denied having any knowledge of this.

Further evidence from an e-mail correspondence between SRT and Edward Annan showed that several deductions had been made from Masai's commission fees, which included an item bought for him and a $120,000 purchase price for shares in VPNS Limited, that were bought by Bollero Investments.

Although Mr. Asare was unable to provide any explanation for this, he did insist that he had reimbursed Mr. Annan for the item bought for him from the Masai commission fees.

The case has been adjourned to December 17, 2007.

By Patrick Baidoo