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14.04.2008 NPP News

Row over MASLOC loanMinister in trouble...Manhyia NPP women accuse him of extortion

By Ghanaian Chronicle

THE DEPUTY Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr. Osei Assibey Antwi is in trouble. A group of women from Manhyia in the Ashanti Region, are accusing him and the Center for Business Development (CBD) of extortion. The women are making these allegations after Mr. Antwi and the CBD collected various sums of money from them under the pretext of helping to secure loans from the Medium and Small Loan Centre (MASLOC), which they failed to do.

Hon. Osei Assibey has, however, dared any member of the public, who has evidence about his involvement in the alleged extortion of monies, while he served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Business Development (CBD) to come forward and prove it.

He has also dared any person from whom any official of the said company has extorted money from, to report to the police for the necessary action to be taken.

Osei Assibey Antwi, who is aspiring to succeed Dr. Kwame Addo Kufuor as the Member of Parliament, in an interview with The Chronicle has denied being part of the said transaction between CBD and the group of NPP women.

According to him, he resigned from the company in 2006, a year after the said transaction took place. He said he has documentary proof showing his resignation from the company and therefore could not have been part of the deal.

The former Ashanti Regional first Vice chairman of the NPP, who is highly tipped to annex the Manhyia constituency seat, said his alleged involvement in the said transaction was a diabolical plan by his detractors in an attempt to discredit him and soil his reputation to the advantage of some latter day saints in the party.

Osei Assibey said, the allegation is coming at this crucial time probably because of his rising popularity and widespread acceptance by the constituents and the youth. He warned that any attempt to drag his name in the mud would not hold.

He said his overriding concern is to articulate the concerns and interest of the people in the Manhyia constituency, adding that the campaign of lies and falsehood would not worry his intention and his resolve to represent the Manhyia constituency in Parliament.

“The primaries would be about issues concerning the development of Manhyia and that is what I am concentrating on” he said.

The deputy Minister has, however, cautioned that in an attempt to achieve ones political ambition, it is very important that no one does anything that will impact negatively on the fortunes of the party. “We should be careful we do not destroy the party for the sake of our political ambitions,” the leading contender for the Manhyia seat said.

According to his accusers who belong to 16 various associations, the management of the Centre for Business Development (CBD) convinced them that they could easily access the MASLOC loans with the influence of Mr. Osei Assibey Antwi, who was then the Chief Executive Officer of CBD.

Besides designing business plans and offering entrepreneurial advice to individuals and groups, the CBD reportedly asked the women to constitute themselves into groups numbering over sixteen, so that the CBD could prepare a business plan for them to access the loan.

Other individuals who were not necessarily part of the groups also paid substantial amounts of money to the CBD for preparation of business plans to enable them access the loan.

The women paid monies ranging from ¢20 to ¢90 million (old cedis), depending on the amount a group could afford and wanted to access loans from the MASLOC.

After waiting for several months without any positive response from the MASLOC regional office, they approached the regional coordinator, Mr. Joe Appiah, from whom they discovered that MASLOC had not contracted any organization to facilitate the access of the loan, neither did one require a business plan before the loan could be accessed.

Mr. Joe Appiah has meanwhile, confirmed to The Chronicle in a telephone interview that his office did not deal with any company and had not instructed CBD to prepare any business plan before the loan was granted to the beneficiaries.

The disappointed women, who felt they had been given a raw deal by the CBD, then decided to go public with the issue, if the company failed to refund their monies to them.

The women said, after they had requested that their monies be paid back, some of them received several threatening phone calls that they would be arrested by the BNI if continued to persist for their monies.

After several persistence, however, the CBD agreed to refund the monies, but only to those who were issued with the company's official receipt indicating that they had paid monies for a business plan to be prepared for them, while some of the women whose payments did not bear any official receipt would forfeit their money.

However, during the period of the repayment, it was realized that the exact monies paid by some of the groups did not reflect the one on the company's official receipt, a situation which compelled some of the women to raise an objection because their amounts had been slashed down.

A document available to The Chronicle and bearing the letterhead of the Centre For Business and Development, indicated the receipt of amount of ¢19,014,003 was paid separately by four association including Nya Tima, Onua Do and Nyame Mmere Traders Associations as payment for business plan.

According to the Secretary of the Nyame Mmere Kuo, Afua Nyamekye, who spoke to The Chronicle in an interview, said her association paid ¢60 million but only ¢17 million had been refunded to them while Nya Tima Kuo had received ¢18 million even though it paid ¢23 million to CBD.

Meanwhile, one of the women who claim she paid monies to the CBD, has told Fox Fm, a local private radio station in Kumasi that she does not know the Deputy Minister Osei Assibey Antwi in person. She said she had not come across the minister in her quest to access the loan.

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