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15.07.2005 General News

$3.5 Million ‘Hotel Kufuor’ Transaction

Crusading Guide
$3.5 Million ‘Hotel Kufuor’ Transaction

…Proof Of Payment To Saoud By Prudential Bank, 'Chief' Kufuor Never Said Purchase was $3million Investigations conducted by The Crusading GUIDE into the so-called 'Hotel-Kufuor' saga have established beyond doubt that the payment of $3.5 million being “the purchase price of the hotel property and all unused materials in storage”, was effected via three (3) separate cheques through the Prudential Bank Limited in February and August 2004.

Authentic documents unofficially made available to us through our usually reliable sources within the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the Prudential Bank, clearly show that on February 27, 2004, Mr. Anthony Saoud, the owner of the hotel property situated on Plots 237 and 238 at Airport West, Accra, was the recipient of two Bank of Ghana cheques numbered 672656 and 672657, totaling US$ 2 million which was in fulfillment of paragraph 4a of the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) dated August 27, 2003 between Anthony Saoud on one part and Airport West Hospitality Company Limited on the other, relating to the sale of the plots under reference. (See page 2 for documentary proof of acknowledgement of receipt of the cheques by Saoud and photocopies of the two cheques in question).

Hon. Yeboah David Hennric, son-in-law of Saoud signed for Saoud while the latter's daughter, Ophelia Saoud Hennric, married to Yeboah, signed as a witness.

Further independent investigations also underscored that Mr. John Addo Kufuor (aka 'Chief' Kufuor) acting in his capacity as a Director of the Airport West Hospitality Company Limited, buyers of the hotel property which might be christened 'Golden Tree Hotel' upon completion, wrote a letter dated August 26, 2004 to Anthony Saoud, on the issue of the “Final Settlement of the Purchase Price of Airport West Hotel”.

“Please find attached a Prudential Bank Limited's Draft No: 391676 in the sum of US$1.5 million, drawn in your favour. This payment represents full and final settlement of the consideration of US$3.5 million being the purchase price of the hotel property situated on Plots 237 and 238 at Airport West, Accra and all unused materials in storage”, articulated 'Chief' Kufuor. (Please see page one for photocopy of the US$1.5m cheque).

The letter also reminded Mr. Saoud that “Your acceptance of this draft means that we have satisfied all the conditions of our agreement of 27th August, 2003 relating to the sale and purchase of the said property. Please sign the attached receipt and return along with the original guarantee given to you by Prudential Bank”.

Saoud then personally acknowledged receipt of the Prudential Bank Limited's Draft No: 391676 in a letter dated August 30, 2004.

“I, Anthony Saoud, hereby acknowledge receipt of Prudential Bank Limited's Draft No: 391676 in the sum of US$1.5 million being in fulfillment of Clause 4c of the terms of our agreement of 27th August between myself on one part and Airport West Hospitality Company Limited on the other, relating to the sale of plots 237 and 238, Airport West, Accra, the buildings thereon and all materials in storage”, stated Saoud.

“I accept that this payment represents full and final settlement of the total consideration of US$3.5 million for the said property and related materials in storage”, concluded the letter which was signed by Saoud himself and witnessed by his son-in-law, Yeboah David Hennric. (See Page 2 for documentary proof of that letter of acknowledgment and page one for a photocopy of the cheque in question).

The documentary evidence provided herein also disproves the assertion by the National Democrat and Mr Kwesi Pratt, Jnr that Anthony Saoud and John Addo Kufuor had contradicted each other on the amount of money paid for the purchase of the property.

Indeed, our investigations proved that John Kufuor had at no time said that the amount Airport West Hospitality Company Ltd, paid to Anthony Saoud was $3million instead of $3.5million as Mr Pratt and the National Democrat would want Ghanaians to believe.

The above transaction, a private business deal between a willing seller and a willing buyer has generated so much media attention and pubic interest in the wake of attempts by sections of the Ghanaian media, opposition politicians and an obviously disgruntled lady by name Gizelle Yajzi, to malign the President and his family.

The pro-NDC media, Gizelle Yajzi, some opposition politicians and a host of social commentators have over the last few months sought to 'implicate' the President in the transaction between Saoud and Airport West Hospitality Company Limited. They have peddled unsubstantiated allegations to the effect that 'National Security' 'twisted the arms' of Saoud thus forcing him to sell the property under reference, on the grounds that the location of the property posed a security threat to the President. They have also alleged that 'Presidential influence' was (mis)applied to get the National Investment Bank (NIB) and the Prudential Bank to part with loans to Airport West Hospitality Company Limited. They have charged that Anthony Saoud might not have fulfilled his tax obligations relative to the 'Hotel Kufuor transaction'. Some of the unsubstantial allegations, speculations and rumours/gossips put out by 'the accusers' naturally required credible answers from the relevant and appropriate quarters.

In response to some of the preceding issues, Mr. Anthony Kwame Saoud last week held a 'media interaction' with a select group of journalists at his Gye Nyame Plastic Office off the Spintex Road. He categorically denied that he had been forced by the NPP Government to sell his property to 'Chief' Kufuor or anybody else.

He also denied that he had sold his house in Adodwo, Kumasi, to President Kufuor as alleged by the pro-NDC media and anti-government social commentators. (See The Crusading GUIDE, July 7-13, 2005).

Speaking to The Crusading GUIDE on July 2, 2005 and as reported in our July 5-11, 2005 edition, Mr. Saoud made it clear that he took the decision to dispose of his 'Airport West hotel property' near the private residence of President Kufuor far back in 1999.

In an interview conducted by the Editor-in-Chief of The Crusading GUIDE, Kweku Baako, Jnr., Mr. Saoud, said he took the decision to dispose of the property because he was growing old and as he had borrowed a huge sum of money from the banks, he did not want to leave any debt burden any day he would be called to eternity.

As reported in our July 5 edition, when the name of Gizelle Yajzi was mentioned during our interview with Saoud, he conceded he had met her on the issue of the hotel property but only on one occasion.

He recalled, “I met her only once when I was at the workshop in my house. My son-in-law introduced her as an investor from Spain. She came with the President's son, and that was the first time I saw her. My son-in-law said they wanted to talk to me about the hotel”.

Saoud told The Crusading GUIDE that the woman said she would offer $2 million. “I said the hotel was worth more than that and so I was not interested. She started saying a lot of things. I lost interest in the whole topic as she said it must be a charity”, he recounted.

He said Gizelle Yajzi had come to play a trick on him and that if it was going to be a charity, then he would prefer to do it and leave his name behind. “Moreover, charity must not be done from people's money”, he added.

When he was asked whether he gathered the impression that Gizelle was negotiating the purchase of the hotel on someone's behalf, Mr. Anthony Saoud replied that when the woman mentioned the amount he became absent-minded and so did not listen to her “and so whether she was talking about the President or whoever, I do not remember”.

Saoud indicated amidst laughter, “If she was offering less than what I was demanding, then I did not want to listen. If I had cotton wool I would have closed my ears”.

Baako asked, “She has gone public to indicate that you wept when she came to you because it appeared you were under pressure to sell your property. Did you shed tears before this lady?”

In his reaction, Saoud, a businessman, said he had shed a lot of tears in 1979 when he lost his son through violence in Lebanon. “After that I think my tears have dried up for sometime and so I couldn't have shed tears before somebody who had come to trick me”, he emphasised.

He said he was sad because Gizelle Yajzi had stepped on his integrity and intelligence.

On whether he had any problem with the transaction that led to the eventual sale of the hotel, Anthony Saoud said there was no problem. He said he was given three cheques for the amount on two separate occasions in February and August 2004, and that all were honoured by the bank. He mentioned the bank as Prudential Bank and said since it was a foreign currency, there was Bank of Ghana (BoG) inscriptions on the cheques.

Asked to tell his feeling after a private transaction had become subject of a public debate which had generated a lot of furore, he said he felt very sad “because Ghana deserves the best, but is not getting the best out of such stories”. He observed, “When you mention the President of a country it means he is representing the people of the country and it is very sad that in politics sometimes the image of the President – be it from any another party – is damaged”.

He stressed that he did not want to see any of the political parties damaging one another because of a commercial transaction. “It's really damaging the image of Ghanaians abroad”, he noted.

Touching on the media, he said he did not approve of bad publications.3