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29.04.2005 General News

Mormon-GIA taking food from mouth of Ghanaians

By CHRONICLE
Mormon-GIA taking food from mouth of Ghanaians

CHRONICLE HAS established that $2.9 million royalties paid Ghana Airways by the Royal Dutch Airlines, KLM, has been diverted into the accounts of Ghana International Airlines (GIA) through an escrow account held by the Mormon-owned company in their local Standard Chartered Bank account at Accra.

Fearing potential charges of conspiracy to defraud Ghana Airways, KLM insisted and received a letter absolving them from any liability in future and this was duly given by the Ministry of Roads and Transport.

Available documentary evidence authenticated by Mr. Mosore, President of the Senior Staff Association, show a record of royalties paid to Ghana Airways since December, 2000, but conspicuously missing in the document was the recent payment made by KLM.

For example, on December 12, 2000, KLM paid $8million to Ghana Airways. KLM also paid $2million, another $2million and $3million on December 14, 2002, March 14, 2003, and May 13, 2003 respectively.

The last payment KLM made was the $3 million paid into the accounts of Ghana Airways in May, last year.

“GIA has not got any money to start but is only looking for internal funding to run their airline in partnership with government,” he intimated, adding that GIA had not been successful in scouting for funds internationally and is even finding it difficult to search for funds locally.

Mr. Mosore insisted that the amount had been diverted to GIA.

When the Chronicle spoke to Mr. Sean Mendis, the Special Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Ralph Atkins, he said the GIA had never received such an amount from KLM, explaining that, GIA is an entirely separate entity from Ghana Airways.

'GIA has not received and will not be receiving any assets of Ghana Airways including its employees,” he said.

However, documents available to the Chronicle indicate that two board members of GIA who were former employees of Ghana Airways were billed to fly to South Africa on April 27, this year to negotiate a deal with South African Airways (SAA) on behalf of GIA, although the cost of travel is billed to Ghana Airways' account.

The two, Group Captain F. Okyne and Mr. Kojo Andah, would spend three days in South Africa with their per diem fully paid.

Captain Okyne is well known as an employee of Ghana Airways, but Mr. Kojo Andah, a political protégé of fallen Civil Aviation Board Chairman, Mr. Amoako Tuffuor, and is currently the Managing Director of the Department of National Lotteries.

From relative anonymity he has been put on the board of GIA and flew out Wednesday, this week on GIA business to try and stitch up a deal with South Africa Airways (SAA).

The expenses for the trip were borne by Ghana Airways which paid out from the already scanty resources, padding Okyne and Andah's pocket with $269.00 a night per person to cover hotel and food.

Though there are authentic documents to support this, GIA insists they are not removing food from the mouths of the hungry workers of Ghana Airways.

The ownership of the offices of GIA, which has attracted media attention, according to Mr. Mosore, was for the Ghana Airways.

Dilating further, Mr. Mosore said the Ministry of Works and Housing had leased the property to the former national carrier for 50 years, which had not expired.

“It is therefore the bonafide property of Ghana Airways,” he declared. “We would reclaim it,” Mosore promised.

Mr. Mosore and his colleagues, including Mr. Ignatius Koufie, the Union Chairman, and Godfred Odoi, the Union Secretary, also asserted that GIA's utility bills are paid by the Ghana Airways.

This assertion was however denied by Sean Mendis, who showed the Chronicle phone and water bills in the name of GIA.

He said they had foreseen the recent attacks coming and therefore been doing things separately from the national carrier.

Touching on the issue of the payment of Ghana Airways' debt and the bid by the consortium of KLM, Fidelity and Kenya Airways, Mr. Mendis said the requirements of the bidding document by the Ministry of Roads and Transport to GIA did not state that the company that would win the bid would take over the debt but government would ring fence the debt.

Ring fencing of a debt means there would be no liability on the part of GIA in the payment of the debt to creditors. Section 4 subsection 3 stated that “government will ring fence Ghana Airways' existing debts as appropriate and the selected strategic partner would not be required to assume responsibility for the payment of such debt out of its resources.

The selected strategic partner will, however, be required to actively assist Ghana Airways restructure its existing debts.

“The extent of any ring fencing required should be clearly indicated in your business plan,” the relevant sub-section states.

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