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23.09.2004 General News

Scandal at korle-bu again

By Chronicle
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Even after the chief executive of Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital refuses to follow an SFO report clearing Albert Nettey of malfeasance in contract deal, some members of his management team have been netted in dubious deals in contract awards.

Chronicle's investigations into allegations have picked Madam Evelyn Agurgo Balfour, the Estate Manager of the hospital, and Boakye Danquah, who now doubles as the Procurement Manager/Projects Manager of the hospital, for acts that are questionable.

The Chronicle can report that Evelyn Agurgo Balfour, who was drawn in the Holdbrook administration palaver, and cited as an informant, has been awarding the hospital's renovation contract to herself.

The paper gathered that in September 2002, Evelyn Balfour, who formally took over as the head of Estate Department, formed a company, Alokmoa Ventures.

The formation of the company came weeks after Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, the Chief Executive of the hospital, had directed the hospital's civil workers engineer to proceed on leave for SFO and BNI to carry out investigations into allegations of diversion of materials, which SFO has since cleared the engineer.

After the registration of the company, Evelyn started awarding renovation contracts to her company with the use of some front men.

The Chronicle's investigations picked September13, 2002, as the registration date of the company.

The registration also captured Evelyn's Dansoman SSNIT flat Block 12 3/2 as the residence of the proprietor of the Alokmoa Ventures and paid ¢17,5000 as the registration fees for the company.

Evelyn admitted ownership during an interview with the paper on August18, last month.

“I formed the Alokmoa Ventures and registered it long before joining Korle-Bu about six years ago because I have wanted to go into jewelry business,” she said.

But Evelyn Balfour later beat a quick retreat when this reporter traced the genesis of the company.

Evelyn later paused for a while and admitted to the paper that she had once awarded a contract to herself for the supply of paints and the painting of some bungalows at the hospital to herself.

She claimed she did not recall the exact amount involved in the contract but was quick to say that the amount involved was not that huge.

“In fact, I cannot tell you off head the amount involved but I can say it was about four million cedis and after this contract I told myself that this is very bad and I have since ceased using my company because my conscience tells me that, hey, what you are doing is wrong,” she confessed.

The Chronicle can report that Evelyn was economical with the truth when she claimed that her company benefited from only painting contract.

The Chronicle can report that as at the time of filing this report Evelyn's company was still executing one of the renovation contracts she awarded to herself at Slate Avenue, near the hospital's guesthouse, alongside others.

Besides, the paper has gathered that almost all the renovation works of the hospital that fall under the purview of the estate manager that had been awarded on contract were handed to her company Alokmoa Ventures.

The paper learnt that not only did Evelyn award contracts to herself but she also drew her labour force for the execution of her contracts from the hospital.

She engaged the casual workers on the hospital's payroll for the execution of her contract free of charge while at the end of the week the casuals go to the hospital for their salaries.

A cache of files on The Chronicle's 'Project Korle Bu' shows many examples of deals that have gone to the manager's company.

For example on November 21, last year the hospital issued a MH/PV with Local Purchase Order (LPO) number 526201-3 covering ¢11.7million on cheque number 220864 being payment for smooth sand and other materials supplied to the hospital by Alokmoa Ventures.

MH/PV number 684307 covering about ¢65million issued on March 17, 2003 with cheque number 163243 as one of the contracts for the renovation works which, as usual, was awarded by Evelyn to herself.

Yet another MH/PV number 675429 dated September 30,2003 that covered about ¢70 million.

When the paper recently reached Prof. Frimpong Boateng on telephone and also followed up to his office, he threatened to go to court and asked his men to show this reporter the exit from his office because the paper was harassing him with baseless allegations.

“Drive this boy from my office! Leave this office and go ahead to write that your baseless story and you would see, I say leave! Let him go ahead and write his useless story and we would take him on in court,” he roared before a section of his management team.

Speaking to the paper on Tuesday August 17, last month on telephone, the chief executive of the hospital claimed it was an insult to his intelligence and that of his fellow hospital officials for this reporter to say that it was being alleged that the former Civil Works Engineer of the hospital was asked to proceed on leave and in his absence paved way for somebody to be awarding contracts to herself.

But Evelyn, during the interview, was more forthcoming in describing how the deals were struck.

“When we opened the tender, I realized that all the companies that bidded were quoting high prices, I said to myself why can't we also put in a bid and I therefore asked my boy to also put in a bid and at the end of it all our prices were lower than others and as a result I awarded the contract to my company which is Alokmoa Ventures.”

As to whether supervising a bid and allowing her company to put in a bid and finally be picked as the winner was not bizarre, she responded “Dominic, you see as human being you are right to think that way but in actual fact I did not consider that Alokmoa Ventures is my company so I should award the contract to it but rather because our price was lower that is why I gave to my company.”

Korle-Bu was rocked by similar deals that invited a full inquiry, which cleared Dr. Holdbrook-Smith, the then Chief Executive.