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26.05.2005 General News

Hotel Kufuor: No Force Applied In Purchase .....

By Chronicle
Hotel Kufuor:  No Force Applied In Purchase .....
MAY 26, 2005 GENERAL NEWS
Son-in-law of Owner & NPP MP talks about Sale Hon. Hennric David Yeboah, the Member of Parliament for Afigya Sekyere East, who is also the son in-law of the original owner of the controversial 'Hotel Kufuor,' has debunked Ms. Gizelle Yajzi's claim that she undertook the negotiations of the purchase of the hotel on behalf President John Agyekum Kufuor. Hon. Yeboah has also accused Ms. Yajzi of trying to bully her way into acquiring the building, which she proposed to turn into a children's hospital for Spanish charity, incurring the displeasure of his father-in-law, Mr. Anthony Saoud, at the huge discount she was demanding. “The impression created by Ms. Gizelle Yajzi that she undertook the negotiations for the purchase of the hotel on behalf of President Kufuor is totally false. “She tried to bully her way into acquiring the hotel for herself,” Hon. Yeboah declared in a press release yesterday. He disclosed that he has the Power-of-Attorney given to him by Mr. Saoud, who is currently in the Middle-East, seeing to his health, adding that he Yeboah had been actively involved in the whole transaction involving the sale of the building, which is not yet a hotel. His revelation casts a serious dent to the widely publicized testimony of Gizelle, who sounds like a woman scorned – straight from hell. According to Hon. Yeboah, his father-in-law decided to sell his timber company when it started to show signs of decline and to invest in a hotel project in Accra. He added that the hotel project was originally zoned in a residential area and as a result it suffered an initial setback, due to certain environmental requirements. Chronicle independent investigations show that the whole matter, which is fast tarnishing the image of the Presidency, could have been bottled up if it had been effectively dealt with by the sufficient, frank and open disclosure of the full facts by competent spokesmen with access to them. Yeboah's testimony, which appears to be in sync with Chronicle initial findings, appears to be the correct one, which pulls the President out of the abyss. However the extraneous issue of sexual encounters cannot be independently confirmed or denied by Chronicle or anybody save the President and Yajzi. Hon. Yeboah emphasized that his father-in-law was never leaned on to sell, but rather he had borrowed money from overseas to build the hotel, adding that when he had run out of cash, he no longer felt strong enough to undertake the strenuous work involved in the hotel management. He therefore decided to sell the hotel. 'This decision was taken on his own, without prompting or harassment from anyone,”Yeboah noted. He explained further that one of the clients who showed interest was an estate developer, who signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Mr. Saoud in April 2001, “to enable the client acquire the necessary documents to source funding for the purchase of the hotel, however the deal could not go through as the client fail to raise the needed funds.” Hon. Yeboah indicated that after the collapse of the first deal his father in-law gave him the Power-of-Attorney to undertake the sale of the hotel. According to him, a number of individuals and organizations approached him for the purchase of the hotel. He mentioned some of the individuals as Mr. Samuel Osei Kuffuor of Bayern Munich fame, Mr. Bond of Air Lyon Hotel, Mr. Kofi Wayo, Mr. Seth Adjei Baah of Shaaba Enterprise and one Mr. Siaw, a Ghanaian who won $ 28 million lotto from Chicago in America. He disclosed that after none of the above individuals and organizations had succeeded in clinching a deal, he had personally approached Chief Kufuor, the eldest son of President Kufuor, in May 2002 about the deal and he subsequently showed interest to acquire the property. Mr. Yeboah said after Chief Kufuor had failed to raise the needed finance for the purchase of the hotel, he had come to introduce Ms. Yajzi to him and Mr. Saoud as an investor, whereupon she took over the negotiations. “Ms. Yajzi took over the negotiations in a very aggressive manner to the utter annoyance of my father in-law and offered to pay $2 million for the hotel which had been evaluated at about $ 4 million,” Hon Yeboah asserted. According to Yeboah, Ms. Yajzi insisted on that amount, claiming she had access to a $2 million Spanish loan, which she wanted to use to purchase the building and convert into a children's hospital for Spanish charity. The MP explained that Mr. Saoud rejected Ms. Yajzi's offer of $ 2 million, explaining that he would have established that charity institution for the people of Ghana and take the credit. However, after three days that her first offer of $ 2 million was rejected, “Ms. Yajzi invited myself, my father in-law and Chief Kufuor to La Palm Royal Hotel and increased her bid to $ 2.5 million.” “This offer was subsequently rejected by father in-law, who insisted that the value of the building was more than that amount and that was the last time I saw or heard of Ms. Yajzi,” Hon. Yeboah disclosed. The Hon. MP explained that Chief Kufuor resumed his negotiation at a slow pace, sourcing funds from banks, including Prudential Bank. He said at a point his father in-law became impatient and considered calling the deal off and enter into negotiation with any other potential client who showed interest. However within that same period the bankers of Chief Kufuor indicated their willingness to back his bid, and as a result we gave him the necessary documents to help him secure loans from the banks. The negotiation as result proceeded with myself actively involved in every part of the negotiation to its logical conclusion with the banks making payment in September, last year. Ms. Yajzi, an American-Iraqi, who is a former transaction adviser to President Kufuor, had alleged on number of radio stations in the country that the President is indeed the rightful owner of a hotel situated behind his private residence and not his eldest son chief Kufuor. She maintains that she presided over the negotiation of the purchase of the hotel on behalf of the President, his eldest son, Chief Kufuor's name was only used in deal to cover his father. Political commentators have maintained that politicians acquiring properties in the names of their children are not a new thing in Ghana. They cited for example that in 1995 the then Minister for Cocoa Affairs, Mr. Adjei Maafo, the brother of the current Minister Education and Sports, acquired thousand acres cocoa and palm oil plantation in the name of his six year old, which was uncovered, when the then editor of The Chronicle, Nana Kofi Coomson, dragged him and six other top government ministers and government officials before the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice CHRAJ in 1996 for unjust enrichment.

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