Palaver -- While other investors were not given the chance at the negotiating table for the acquisition of Ghana Railways Company because of not paying the US$250,000 bid-bond required by the Ministry for Ports, Harbours and Railways, the United Rail International, which is currently in negotiations with the Government, has not paid anything, according to sources inside the Ministry.
The source told “The Ghana Palaver” that as at March 2005, when the Ministry started negotiating with the United Rail International, the company had not paid the bid-bond as demanded by the Ministry from other investors.
The source, who appeared surprised at the handling of the bid-bond issue by the sector Minister, said he did not expect Prof. Akumfi to be so biased in the search for a good investor to takeover the running of the Ghana Railway Company.
“The Minister is aware that the URI has not paid their bid-bond” the source emphasised, “and yet has gone ahead to start negotiations with them while other investors with track records in rail business have been left out.
“If the Minister is saying the URI paid the bid-bond, he should tell Ghanaians who paid the money and through which Bank the transaction was made”, the source demanded. ...Ameyaw Akumfi must tell Ghanaians why he is negotiating with them … And what is Minister Jake's involvement in URI
The commencement of negotiations with United Rail International (URI) and their non-payment of the bid-bond as at the time negotiations started, confirm the political might behind the company and the speculation that Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Minister of Tourism, is behind the whole deal.
This is because Frank Randolph Roberts, who owns 20% shares in Holdtrade Mining Ltd., one of the companies with shares in United Rail International, is a front and a friend of Mr. Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey.
According to “Ghana Palaver” sources, the first meeting held in connection with the United Rail International take-over of Ghana Railways Company was held in Jake's house with some leading members of the NPP in attendance.
“The Ghana Palaver” realising how economically Prof. Akumfi was with the truth when he disclosed that URI is owned by Trackbed (UK) Ltd and Holdtrade (UK) Ltd in a 50% - 50% deal, and started investigating the two companies which resulted in exposing Jake's involvement and the reason why Prof. Ameyaw Akumfi is being strung along.
Trackbed (UK) Ltd, as a company was dissolved on October 19, 2004 prompting Mr. Matthew Bruce Burrow to do an about turn to say, under pressure from the media, that the company in question is actually Trackbed Foundation, about which he is not prepared to talk because the owner insists on anonymity.
Holdtrade (UK) Ltd, it has been established, is owned by Matthew Bruce Burrows, the leader of the URI negotiating team with 30% shares and Intertechnology Investments Ltd, registered in the British Virgin Island as an offshore Company, with 70%.
Holdtrade (UK) Ltd has an associate company called Holdtrade Mining Ltd in which it has 40% shares.
Holdtrade Mining Ltd is the company that Bruce Burrows inadvertently revealed has actually been working on the Western Rail Line in his first interview with Newsmen.
Forty per cent (40%) of Holdtrade Mining Ltd is owned by a Swiss national resident in Ghana called Oscar Rettenmund, while another foreigner by name Frank Randolph Roberts, holds 20% with the remaining 40% owned by Holdtrade (UK) Ltd.
Oscar is married to a Ghanaian by name Catherine Easmon, daughter of the late Prof. C. O. Easmon, the first Ghanaian Dean of the Ghana Medical School at Korle Bu.
Jake, the Minister, regularly has his haircut at the Bellitas Hair Salon, Osu, owned by Oscar's wife, Cathrine. Jake, the Minister and Oscar have been very close pals for years.
The other shareholder of Holdtrade Mining Ltd, Frank Randolph Roberts, a Sierra Leonean by birth, grew up together with Jake and are regularly seen together at parties with the grand niece of Senior Minister J. H. Mensah, called Anita.
And this is why Frank is seen by close associates of the two, as being a front for the Tourism Minister in the URI deal because he has been fronting in most of Jake's businesses.
The Accra negotiations, which started in March, this year, between the Ghanaian Government and United Rail International, went on hold when the Ghanaian Media started delving deep into the background of the company. The two, resumed negotiations last Monday.