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20.10.2008 Politics

Victor Smith admits: I have no evidence Kufuor-Kuwait oil allegation was hearsay

By The Statesman

Victor Emmanuel Smith, Editor of the Weekly Standard newspaper and former Special Assistant to Ex-President Rawlings, has confessed that he has no evidence to support his recent publication which sought to imply that President Kufuor owes over $5billion to some Kuwait oil suppliers and that his (President's) personal properties were being appropriated to defray the debt.

When asked by the seasoned journalist and host of Joy Fm"s Front Page programme, Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, to provide evidence to prove the veracity of the story yesterday, Mr Smith confessed he only acted on hearsay and so had no documents to back his claims.

"I don't have documentary evidence, I would have told you if I had,' he intoned.

Victor Smith has been serializing what he described as 'excerpts of the botched oil deal with an unnamed Kuwaiti company', and claimed that it had landed the President a whopping cost of $5.5 billion dollars in arbitration fees, $4 billion of which he alleged that Kufuor had been able to offset.

Obviously peeved by the publication, the Presidency Wednesday denied the allegation, describing it as a 'blatant, wicked lie.'

Press Secretary to President Kufuor, Mr Andrew Awuni, insisted that the Head of State neither has any dealings with any Kuwait oil suppliers nor does he own any oil company.

The Presidency therefore, gave Victor Smith and the leadership of the opposition National Democratic Congress 14 days to provide evidence to back the allegation or unreservedly retract same otherwise, 'we will advise ourselves.'

The Presidency warned that if the party failed to meet those conditions, there were a number of options available to it, to seek redress, including legal action.

Mr Smith's apparent admission of guilt yesterday on Joy FM's news analysis programme was a direct contrast to his stand Thursday when he spoke on the same station's Super Morning Show.

On that programme, he said he was speaking from impeccable sources and urged Ghanaians to demand of the President the source of the money and how he got it to clear that bill.

He said it would be a wishful thinking on the part of the President's Press Sectretary and President Kufuor to expect any retraction and apology, and urged them to proceed to court, because he was ready for them.

He maintained that the President knew whithin his heart that he had been involved in the said deal and for which the 'partners' were trying to exact the remainder of $1.5 billion.

According to him, he was ready to go to Parliament or the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice when called to provide evidence for the two state institutions to investigate the matter.

 He downplayed the threat of the court action, and insisted his claims were true.

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