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06.05.2005 General News

Deportation saga: GIPC assures Butler

By Chronicle

Mr. Kwasi Abeasi, Chief Executive of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), has indicated that his outfit would at all times protect the interest of Mr. Luke Norman Butler, the embattled Chief Executive Officer of Afra Airlines, “so far as he does legitimate business and remains within the confines of the laws of the country.”

There had been speculation in the media that Mr. Butler was to be deported from the country, following reports that he had been bankrupt in Australia in 2002 Mr. Abeasi in an interview with the Chronicle early this week, noted with great surprise and disappointment how the issue of deportation had gained such height.

According to him, he does take exception to the current developments, since in Mr. Butler's initial project and business plan, submitted to his outfit, he expressed neither written nor verbal interest in purchasing shares in Ghana Airways, to become its shareholder.

He could therefore not read between the lines, what seems to have generated the controversy in recent times.

He noted that Butler had, in his business plan, made clear his intention to go into integrated tourism operations with chartered flights, which venture does not require one to own a flight.

He said he was only seeing and hearing in sections of the media that Mr. Butler had been given a raw deal in his attempt to buy the national carrier, Ghana Airways.

Asked what protection his outfit has for such frustrated investors, under a government that makes heavy claims to the tenets of 'Golden Age of Business,' and private sector participation, the GIPC boss noted that in the case of Butler, he enjoys protection under the ambit of the Constitution of the country, since he is legally married to a Ghanaian woman.

He however stressed that he is of the strong belief that Butler might have strayed into a different area, hence being investigated by national security.

According to him, if the said frustrated investor had informed the centre before resorting to press conferences, it would have done him a lot of good, since his outfit could have liaised with institutions he had accused of fanning his problems.

In the case of the alleged revocation of his working permit, Mr. Abeasi noted that it is a problem that does not need much effort to solve, provided his operations are satisfactory with the security agencies.

Mr. Abeasi therefore expressed utter dismay at Butler's actions since, according to him, he has not amended his certificate of incorporation as should be, under normal circumstances.

He however assured that his outfit would not shirk its responsibility of safeguarding the interest of Butler, indicating that he would immediately contact him to have first hand information on his plight.

He stressed that the centre would, with immediate effect, institute an investigation into his claims when he is duly contacted.

The woes of Butler, the frustrated Australian investor in the aviation business, keep deepening as the days go by, with many government officials being dodgy on the issue, and virtually refusing to answer the million-dollar question of why his airline is not flying.

He is currently undergoing what can be termed as 'psychological trauma' at the hands of government and state security operatives, some of who are bent on seeing his business investments ruined, with no apparent reason whatsoever.

Indications are that the authorities have revoked his working permit, but no government official would like to speak on the issue.

Earlier in the day, Interior Minister, Paapa Owusu Ankomah, refused to make any comment on the issue, since, according to him, it borders on the internal security of the nation.

He is reported to have said, “I would not divulge internal security information.”

The Commissioner of the Ghana Immigration Service, Mrs. Elizabeth Adjei also said she knew virtually nothing about the revocation of Mr. Butler's working permit.

According to her, neither she nor her office had issued any directive to that effect.

Further asked by the paper whether she could point out who were behind such actions, she said it was beyond her purview to determine the brains behind the action.

Meanwhile, Chronicle picked up intelligence report that Mr. Butler had been invited to report to the deputy director of immigration today with his passport, an ominous sign of his imminent deportation.

The Chronicle has been inundated with calls from the international press, including the BBC, for confirmation of Mr. Butler's imminent deportation.

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