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19.03.2004 General News

EDITORIAL: SFO’s Bunkum

By Gye Nyame Concord

IN A DESPERATE effort to indict the basis of the front page banner story in our last Thursday's edition titled “SFO ISSUES DODGY REPORT ON VANEF STC DEAL”, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in a widely publicised press release issued the same day denied ever issuing any report on its probe into the divestiture of the State Transport Company (STC)

The SFO also went on to falsely suggest that this newspaper reported that the SFO report had been handed over to Attorney General and Minister of Justice Hon. Paapa Owusu Ankomah. Then the same SFO that invented the false assertion sought to deny it.

Spin-doctoring in a way that could get Tony Blair's Labour Government former Communications Director Alistair Campbell jealous, the SFO also stated categorically that it was still in the process of probing the SSNIT/Vanef-STC/VCL affair and sought to assure “interested persons” of that.

“… Finally the Executive Director of the SFO wishes to inform all interested persons that he has not issued any report of the investigations into the divestiture of the STC to anybody or to the public at large” wrote Acting Head of Public Relations of the SFO, Ms Evelyn Bekoe (see other story on back page).

That was the unkindest cut that gave the SFO game away. Who are the Acting SFO boss, Mr Theophilus Asharku Cudjoe and his Acting Head of Public Relations, Ms Evelyn Bekoe deceiving? Himself? The Public? Gye Nyame Concord? Independent? Or Attorney General Paapa Owusu Ankomah?

Then again, which interested person(s) is the SFO talking of?

The truth is that the so-called interested persons in this SSNIT/Vanef-STC/VCL deal whom the Ag-Executive Director sought to inform on the stage of SFO investigations know the truth. At least three of them have been charged under the authority of the same Asharku Cudjoe and his SFO. As a matter of fact - not conjecture – three of them are on a bail of ¢500 million each for various counts of offences, including stealing and misapplication of public resource.

The three that readily come to mind are Messrs. James Owusu Bonsu, Kwame Asante and David Ofosu-Dorte, who are all on bail bonds of ¢500 million each.

The truth also is that they were charged by the SFO after their caution statements had long been taken and investigated, and after an SFO team led by one Prosper Sunu and another team led by Chief Inspector Baah, currently a first year student at the Ghana Law School, have been completed. The case was then referred to a team led by a retired Supreme Court Judge, which works on the quiet on SFO cases.

We've presently held back more details on these for our Thursday edition in the hope that a meeting between us and the SFO leadership expected to come on last week would eventually come on before Thursday.

But the SFO should in the meantime also tell us via another press release what the basis of their charges of the three people we've named were? Did they just dream the charges and preferred same against the people involved without completing their investigations? And is that their modus operandi?

We indeed need to know. Otherwise we would rightly assume that there are magicians at the SFO who forecasted the charges they would prefer against the three men even before the SFO completed its investigations into the STC deal, and indeed charged them on the basis of the forecast? Hmmm…Asem beba dabi.

On the other hand, the SFO can tell us whether they charged Messrs. James Owusu Bonsu, Kwame Asante and David Ofosu-Dorte, and granted them the total of ¢1.5 billion bail on the basis of legal advice from a committee chaired by the former Supreme Court Justice without express or written authority from the Attorney General as required under Section 18 of Act 466; the Act that established the SFO?

Is this not why it is beating a retreat on its own conduct, especially when the Attorney General is reported to have denied ever receiving or ever being informed of any report on the investigations on the Tema-based Adom FM last Thursday?

So who is Mr Asharku-Cudjoe, Ms. Evelyn Bekoe and their staff at the SFO kidding? Certainly, not us. We suspect that it the public, as well as the constitutional overlord of the SFO, Attorney General Paapa Owusu Ankomah, whom the SFO kept in the dark on this issue despite the constitutional obligation of the SFO under Section 18 of Act 466 to seek authorisation in writing from the AG before conducting any criminal proceedings arising out of investigations by the office.

Our response therefore to the SFO denial is that they must go tell it on the mountain, and to the marines.

We will certainly get back to this issue. Insha Allah, we will.

See story that ticked off the SFO in back issue Vol 2 No 66 of Gye Nyame Concord at www.ghanaweb.com/concord

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