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29.10.2004 General News

More skeletons fall from NDC Sankofa cupboards

By Accra Mail
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...The case of the former minister who "earned" over US$300,000 mysteriously and "blamed" his daughter

Accra, Oct. 29, Accra Daily Mail --During the trial of Mr. Victor Serlomey in The Republic vrs. Victor Serlomey and 1 other, Suit No. FTCR 3/2001, a former Minister of Trade and Industry stated in answer to a question in cross examination that a friend of his, a Lebanese businessman was responsible for paying the fees of his daughter attending college in Texas in the US This led to a suspicion that the former minister was being economical with the truth.

The appropriate authorities initiated investigations. The Lebanese business man had since 1980 been a Managing Director of a company milling flour in Ghana and is also a son-in-law of the majority shareholder in the company.

Between August 1998 and April 2001, fifty thousand pounds sterling (£50,000.00) and two hundred and forty thousand dollars (US$240,000.00) were paid through the Lebanese businessman's account at UBS Bank in London to the daughter of this former minister.

When this transaction was exposed, the Lebanese businessman stated that the payments were from a scholarship fund set up by the majority shareholders of the flour mill to benefit needy students and that this former minister's children qualified for the scholarship.

That would have ended the matter, even if still riddled with suspicions. But further investigations disclosed however that the scholarship fund was set up in 1995 to cater for "Labanese admitted" to a French educational institution called INSEAD. It was that exclusive.

Furthermore the funds transferred to the former minister's account came from the Lebanese businessman who stated that he was instructed by the majority shareholder to transfer the funds not to INSEAD but the former minister's daughter's account.

Significantly, there are no letters or other citations or awards of the alleged scholarship. These sums of money were clearly paid to this former minister for other reasons other than just a scholarship scheme for his daughter.

Though the Lebanese businessman states that these funds were given to this former minister's daughter as a scholarship, it is clear however that this former minister's strategic position on the government institutions where the valuable decision to sell off the government's shares in the flour mill was made, enabled him to be rewarded with those sums of money credited to his daughter' s account. In other words, his pay off.

The flour milling company, situated in Tema in the Greater Accra Region, was established over thirty years ago in accordance with prevailing laws of the country. The Government of Ghana owned one hundred and forty-eight thousand, three hundred and fifty (148,350) class D Shares, that is, 30.4 %, of the total shares of the mill.

In July 1987 this former minister, then Special Assistant to the Political Counsellor for Committees for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR), and the naval officer-in-charge of the Tema Naval Base were appointed by the PNDC government as its representatives on the Board of Directors of the company.

The former minister remained a member of the Board until 1993 when the PNDC government divested government shares in the mill.

In April 1992 the mill expressed a desire to acquire the shares of the government by a letter to the PNDC Secretary of Finance and Economic Planning with copies to the chairman of the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) and the PNDC Secretary for Industry, Science and Technology; From April 1992, negotiations were carried out between the DIC and the company and various documents and records were submitted by the company to the DIC as a result of which in May 1993, the government's shares were transferred to the other shareholders for a total of five hundred and seventy-one million, one hundred and forty thousand cedis (C571,140,000.00) which was paid to the DIC;

This former minister was a member of the DIC from 1992 to the end of 2000; he was a member of the mill's Board from 1987 until 1997 and held the following ministerial positions at the Ministry of Trade and Industry: Deputy PNDC Secretary, 1992; Deputy Minister, 1993; Minister, 1999 to 2000.

With the NDC's Sankofa now totally discredited, this revelation clearly points to a case of Abuse of Office For Personal Benefit contrary to S179c (a) of Act 29/6.

Investigations continue...

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