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General News | May 18, 2004

Chinese Saloon Loan: Gizelle Yajzi Speaks

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Her name is Ms. Gizelle Yajzi. She is reported to be half-Iraqi. She is an economist and a lawyer and an international consultant on foreign financing. For the first two and a half years of the Kufuor administration, she was a Special Adviser to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo. Her speciality was advising on foreign loans being sought by Ghana.

Following press reports that the Government of Ghana was spending excessively on her, Information Minister, Nana Akomea at a Press Conference held on 27th November 2003 stated as follows:

"Ms Gizelle Yajzi came to the attention of the Ministry of Finance as a lobbyist in the Gulf and Middle East region. She assisted a government delegation to Kuwait in December 2002 to secure a quick resolution of the rescheduling of Ghana's debt of US$32 million owed to Kuwait and also in securing a US$600,000 grant from the Kuwait government for an agricultural feasibility project for the Accra Plains.

The expenditure on Ms. Yajzi were on the air fare and per diem for four days. Ms. Yajzi has therefore not been engaged as Special Adviser to the Minister and is not "running up bills that threaten to cause serious financial loss".

Subsequent rumours linked Ms. Gizelle Yajzi in an amorous relationship with President Kufuor, and further rumours had it that a set of twins named John and Philip Kufuor had been produced as offsprings of the relationship.

Ms. Gizelle Yajzi in an earlier interview with Radio Gold denied any such relationship and insisted that she had not been pregnant in the last 18 years. The rumours however persist.

In the following interview, conducted by long distance telephone with Radio Gold's Roland Acquah-Stevens from an undisclosed location, Ms. Gizelle Yajzi makes it clear that contrary to Nana Akomea's assertion, she used to be an Adviser to the Minister of Finance and also gives her views on the US$300 million CNT loan that has generated so much controversy after Ghana Palaver had broken the story.

She is certain that either the loan is a scam or the Minister of Finance has made a mistake, or that the "deal" is not really a loan but a contract for the specific performance of certain contracts, in which case it is a kind of "supplier's credit" agreement that should have been taken to Parliament, but not a loan agreement.

Now read on... RADIO GOLD INTERVIEW WITH MS. GIZELLE YAJZI ON THE US$300 MILLION CNT LOAN RG: Radio Gold

GY: Gizelle Yajzi

RG: Hello Good Morning, Hello

GY: Hello Good Morning

RG: Good Morning Madam. How are you?

GY: How are you Mr. Acquaah?

RG: Not too bad. Madam, well, you are an international consultant to lots of Governments globally and you have been an adviser to the Government of Ghana on finance, specifically to Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo. Well, currently there is this talk about -- there is this ongoing talk about this US$300 million loan from CNT Group Holdings Ltd and everybody is wondering who this iis and if really it is possible and what I want to find out from you is that if you have even heard that Ghana is going to access a US$300 million loan from CNT Group Holdings Ltd.

GY: Excuse me, I couldn't hear exactly but I can imagine your question was I think about the loan you want to ask me?

RG: Yes Madam.

GY: Ok. First of all, I am not adviser any more for Ghana. I wanted to clarify that and second, thank you for asking me my opinion. I have been reading lately about this loan and I think it has a lot of questions but I am sure the Honourable the Minister of Finance can clarify them because I cannot first of all understand why a private company or a private investor will give to Ghana US$300 million at a rate of .0.65, if I am not wrong, for a period of 30 years with10 years grace period. It doesn't make sense for a private investor to give and bear low rate money to Ghana and it makes it a little bit suspicious because nobody is going to lose making work with money.

Second of all, I think they make a pool of Companies somehow, correct me because maybe I am missing something here because one of the Companies is an offshore Company and I am sure that the Minister of Finance is not going to go through any agreement with an offshore company because as you know, an offshore company does not have,--you don't not know who is the owner, you cannot trace them anywhere in the world and this is even against the new internatioonal law, as you know, to fight against terrorism, laundering, these kinds of Companies are having big trouble all over the world.

To Be Continued

The US$300 million CNT Loan ...

OSAFO-MAAFO SPEAKS

The Minister of Finance, Mr.Yaw Osafo-Maafo, last Thursday, 13th May, 2004, addressed a Press Conference at the Ministry of Information Conference Room.

Though billed to be a briefing on the Millennium Challenge Account, question time was almost entirely devoted to the US$300 million CNT loan as the assembled journalists peppered the beleaguered Minister with questions ranging from the authenticity of the address of the CNT to the hidden faces behind the Company and the "deal".

The answers an obviously harassed Yaw Osafo-Maafo gave included such ridiculous and arrogant ones as the following:

i. ... where the fellow dreamed of the telephone mof the CNT, I don't know.

ii. If that number is not active, why then do you conjure a number and call that number?

iii.... a number of people are parading all kinds of figures and stories and numbers which are not correct.

iv... go back and get also yourselves educated on some of the information which are available because you cannot ignore this information and you go on your own tangent.

v. I will address these things at the appropriate time.

vi. It is important to note that no agreement has been signed, no money has been paid to anybody, so in terms of loss to anybody, people should not ... I heard somebody say we have already paid 12% management fee, that is also false

vii. [The CNT] did not come through the moon...

viii. ... people are dreaming all kinds of things

ix. Professor Ayensu in my view is nowhere connected with this ... he was nowhere connected with it...

x. We're collecting all the relevant data on the CNT matter and we will address them at the appropriate time.

Reproduced below is the full text of Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo's answers to the press questions

ANSWERS GIVEN BY THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, MR YAW OSAFO-MAAFO, ON THE US$300 MILLION CNT LOAN AT HIS PRESS CONFERENCE OF 13TH MAY 2004.

ALL that has been said and all that is going on and I believe that we are certainly going to address but its important to note certain factors, that this loan was laid before parliament as early as May 9, the approval was April 13 and when you lay a paper, you lay a paper with copies of all the relevant documents, including the due diligence.

So myself and my colleagues both the Finance Committee and on the floor of Parliament had access to these documents for over a month, so when people talk about being rushed, it becomes a little interesting.

There are projects we present and we use not more than three days to get them through- this we had the documents for over a month.

Two, I think that somebody came up with a telephone number which is nowhere on the address given us, so where the fellow dreamed of the telephone number, I do not know.

You are dealing with documents, you must deal with patent information on the loan document and I challenge everybody to go for the loan documents as they are available in Parliament and at Ministry of Finance and find out the telephone numbers on these documents. I think that's what we should restrict ourselves to but since a number of issues have been raised, we are in touch with the people concerned, we basically believe in the credibility, particularly of the shareholders like China Rail and a couple of banks and therefore when we are assemble all the data, we will come back and clear the air on all aspects of the loan. That is what I will say about this for the mean time...

If that number is not active, why then do you conjure a number and call that number? I do not think w e are going to debate that issue now...

Well, as I said, we will come back to it, but some very patent errors must be corrected.

There is nowhere in the Constitution where the Governor of the Central Bank is responsible for "due diligence". Indeed, due diligence, is the function of Banks and the Minister of Finance. If I am going to lend money to you, I will go to your bankers, write to them, to give a confidential report on your reputation; nothing to do with the Governor.

And therefore, depending on the circumstances, we may use the Governor and we do not use the Governor, we use banks. We do not use the Governor, so whenever...I heard people say that the Governor under the Constitution... that is false, there is nothing like that.

I think as I said, we'll be gathering information as we've heard questions you've raised and we will address appropriately, in detail, all these matters, but a number of people are parading all kinds of figures and stories and numbers which are not correct, and I think the best is to give all of us time because of the issues to collect the data and come back to it, but please go back and read the Hansard, go back and read the Finance Committee's Report, go back and get also yourselves educated on some of the information which are available because you cannot ignore this information and you go on your own tangent.

That is not also fair to the system, and therefore I will address these things at the appropriate time and I think I myself am in touch, I am also gathering additional information because of the issues that have been raised and I think we can satisfy you. It is important to note that no agreement has so far been signed, no money has been paid to anybody so in terms of loss to anybody, people should not... I heard somebody say we have already paid 12% management fee, that is also false. So when parliament approves the loan, it goes through another process before you get into signing. You cannot do it even within a week or month, it sometimes takes as long as preparing the paper itself, so be assured that the Government is working hard to obtain grants, to obtain loans, and to obtain resources for developing this economy in an accelerated pace.

Growing at 5.2% when your population is growing at 2.9%. We need additional resources and we are genuinely making efforts to get additional resources to build the economy and therefore our intentions are very noble, and we will pursue it along those lines.

Thank you very much...

Well, it may interest you to know that the China Rail and all the big shots from China even sought audience with His Excellency the President in the company of the Chinese Ambassador when CNT was first discussed. It did not come through the moon; it was something that we thought was brilliant, because His Excellency, the Ambassador of China, led the team to His Excellency's office. I remember that is why I said I will address all these; the details are there, and people are dreaming all kinds of things.

Professor Ayensu in my view is nowhere connected with this and therefore the comment you made about him is unfortunate and I think it is not right to just put people in such a public forum to ridicule them; it is not right. He was nowhere connected with it...

As I said, we are collecting all the relevant data on the CNT matter, and we will address them at the appropriate time.

Thank you very much.

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