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10.05.2005 General News

Australian High C’ssion drawn into investor’s scare

By Chronicle

- Chief of Staff ultra vires orders challenged Accra, May 10, 2005, Chronicle -- The Australian High Commission has been drawn into the row over the seizure of the passports belonging to Mr. Luke Butler, the Chief Executive of Afra Airlines, the company that is said to be in competition with the Mormons-owned Ghana International Airlines, which has Dr. Richard Anane and Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani as principal supporters.

The seizure of the passport of the investor, according to some legal brains, does not have any legal backing and would scare away foreigners who would want to invest in Ghana, which the President has been seeking.

The Counsel for the investor, Nana Asante Bediatuo yesterday told the Chronicle in an interview that the Australian High Commission was drawn into the investor's scare after their meeting with the immigration officers to demand the release of Mr. Butler's passport, proved futile.

“Mr. Butler needs his passport for the work he is doing, he needs the passport for identification,” Nana Bediatuo told the paper.

According to him, he had pointed it out to the immigration officers that most of the information in Mr. Butler's passport, including his name, when his passport was issued and where it was issued would be needed to file for his residence permit.

He said the Ghana Immigration Service does not have the right to confiscate the passport of Mr. Butler, for even if he himself defaced the passport, he could be arrested in Australia by the Australian High Commission.

“We have to keep the passport very well because there is no rule that we are aware of, that required them to take somebody's passport,” he added.

He noted that Mr. Butler was encouraged to come and invest here and had subsequently moved his entire family here. However, he was facing severe intimidation and had been frustrated by the actions of the immigration authorities because certain questions that had been raised had not been answered by the authorities.

“There are so many questions that we have asked but so far everybody says that they are updating his file, which is kind of incredible. There is nothing else that is being said, we have provided every document they have asked for,” he intimidated.

Nana Bediatuo was of the view that it was not necessary to seize the passport of Mr. Butler because he was not under investigations and there had not been any adverse findings against him.

He maintained that should the immigration authorities delay in the release of Mr. Butler's passport, then legal action might be applied against the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS).

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