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01.05.2004 General News

Konadu Rawlings, Caridem exposed

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FORMER FIRST LADY Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings' description of a report prepared by the Auditor General on the acquisition of the former Nsawam Cannery Limited by Caridem Development Company, owned by the 31st December Women's Movement, as total rubbish has come under serious questioning.

Documents availed to the Gye Nyame Concord as a result of follow-up enquiries on Konadu's interview with Joy FM carried by this paper Thursday, has thrown out scandalous evidences of abuse of both the Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA) on Nsawam Cannery's divestiture, as well as violation of a loan owed the Government of Ghana through ECOBANK Ghana Limited.

Caridem used that loan in effecting its initial payment to the DIC.

This paper can confirm that the once-all powerful 31st DWM indeed owes the State of Ghana - not ECOBANK – a total of over ¢9 billion.

The sum consists of ¢2, 406,772,015 on the divested Cannery which the 31st DWM bought through Caridem. Caridem is a private company incorporated in 1993 by the 31st DWM to buy Nsawam Cannery, also formerly known as GIHOC Cannery Company Limited.

Documents show that the Executive Secretary of the DIC, Mr Emmanuel Agbodo, informed Caridem that their proposal to purchase Nsawam Cannery was approved on January 16, 1995.

Four days later, Caridem informed the DIC of its acceptance of the offer but suggested amendments to the terms of payment spelt out by the DIC that the ¢2, 789,846,000 be paid under the following terms:

(a) a 10% non-refundable commitment fee of ¢2, 789,846,000 together with the acceptance letter not later than Tuesday, January 31, 1995

(b) 50% of the purchase price i.e. ¢1,394,923,000 to be paid on the execution of the Sale and Purchase Agreement not later than Friday, March 3, 1995.

(c) 20% of the purchase price i.e. ¢557,969, 200 to be paid six months after the date of execution of the Sales and Purchase Agreement

(d) Final payment of ¢557,969,200 amounting to 20% of the purchase price within 12 months of the agreement coming into effect

(e) An understanding that deferred payment would attract interest at the treasury bill rate Instead DWM offered that to pay the:

(a) Non-refundable commitment fee of ¢278, 984,600 not later than February 28, 1995 due to the late receipt of DIC's letter of offer.

(b) That the DWM should be allowed to pay the 50% purchase consideration six months after signing the purchase agreement.

(c) That they should also be allowed to pay 20% within 12 months from the date of signing the SPA

(d) And that they would pay the final payment of 20% within 18 months from the date of signing the SPA

But nine years after taking over the company, CARIDEM has failed to live up to its own amended pledge contained in a letter initialled by General Manager Ms. G. Okanteye on January 20, 1995.

It has also failed in servicing the ¢750 million TIP fund it accessed as loan from ECOBANK.

This paper can confirm that contrary to the claim by the former first lady on Joy FM last Wednesday that the loan had nothing to do with the State, the loan documents between ECOBANK and Caridem signed by Caridem Director and DWM Trustee, Ms Shirley Ayitey, made it emphatic that interest rate of “30% per annum payable on principal repayment date will be paid to the Ministry of Finance on receipt by the bank.” The document also noted that the interest rate was subject to change by the Ministry of Finance.

The reason for this clause is not far fetched, as it was spelt out in the “SPECIAL CONDITIONS PERTAINING TO THE LOAN FACILITY” under the agreement. The agreement says:

“The fund from which the facility will be disbursed is being managed on behalf of the Ministry of Finance, under a management agreement between ECOBANK Ghana and the Ministry of Finance.”

The Special Conditions further stated that “If for any reason, the agreement between ECOBANK Ghana and the Ministry of Finance should be terminated, further availments under the line will be curtailed.”

Interestingly, the loan facility of ¢750 million disbursed to the 31st DWM on November, 28, 1997 as part of a GoG-assisted programme to help selected business activities, has seen “no payment in respect of principal or interest …received. The total outstanding balance of ¢2406,772,015.97 thus represents a principal loan balance of ¢750,000,000 and accrued interest of ¢1,656,772,015.97”, noted Mr. Albert K Essien, Managing Director of ECOBANK Ghana Limited, in a letter on the issue to the Auditor General on February 17, this year.

Caridem was required to have serviced the loan fully in six equal monthly instalments by May 30, 1999.

Speaking to Joy FM last week, Mrs. Agyemang Rawlings said the audit report cannot be true because Caridem had paid for the Nsawam Cannery to the DIC in full.

“It is total rubbish and false. I think the Auditor General does not know what he is talking about. If you sell something to me, I pay, you don't come back to me to say it should have been this so I should pay the difference. The documents are there for all to see. As an Auditor General, he should really look at legal documents and stop speculating to please his masters”, she concluded, without telling the full story.