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19.05.2004 General News

Vanef Boss Dragged Before SFO

By Chronicle
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...For Allegedly Misappropriating ¢27bn The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is investigating an alleged misappropriation of more than ¢27 billion of revenue of the Intercity State Transport Company Limited by the Chief Executive of Vanef Consortium Limited (VCL), Mr. James Owusu Bonsu.

Mr. Owusu allegedly used the money to pay part of a ¢50 billion loan he contracted from the Societe Generale-Social Security Bank (SG-SSB) in February 2000.

Sources close to the National Security Council confirmed to The Chronicle that the matter had been referred to the SFO. The paper also sighted a letter to the divisional chairman of the General Transport, Petroleum and Chemical Workers Union from the secretary of Intercity STC alluding to an investigation by the SFO.

The investigations followed a petition by workers of the Intercity STC and Bulk Haulage Division to Parliament calling for the abrogation of the agreement between the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) and VCL on the sale of former State Transport Corporation (STC) for lack of transparency.

In their petition the workers cited a letter dated February 3, 2000 signed by the former Executive Secretary of DIC, Mr. Emmanuel Agbodo to Mr. Bonsu, which approved the sale to VCL even though it was clear that VCL could not meet the conditions in the tender process.

The petition said in an earlier letter in September 1999, Mr. Agbodo had stated that if for any reason DIC was unable to complete a successful transaction with the VCL the second placed bidder, in effect the management and staff of the company, would be given the opportunity to compete in the deal.

However, to their utter dismay the workers said DIC and the consultants, Messrs. Kwame Asante and associates limited denied them the opportunity to participate in the bidding.

The petition expressed dissatisfaction with the present arrangement, which gave the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) 92.5% or 975 equity shares as the majority shareholder and Mr. Bonsu and Mr. Ofosu Dortey, 1.55% each as a sweat equity in the Bus Division of the company while SSNIT did not bid to acquire STC in the first place.

The petition also alleged that VCL could not perform for the two occasions that the tender bid was opened.

VCL allegedly did not have the money to pay as per the payment contract, which DIC put forward yet the company was given the nod to take over STC.

The petition called for investigation into roles played by Mr. Agbodo, Mr. T.B. Owusu and Mr. Richard Akuffo of DIC, the former Director General of SSNIT, Mr. Charles Asare and Mr. Kwame Asante of Kwame Asante and Associates in the divestiture of STC.

Officials of SFO have declined to comment on the matter.