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12.08.2005 General News

NDC Guru Is Witness Against Ghana Gov’t

GNA

A foreign construction company operating in Ghana, Construction Pioneers (CP), has sent the Ghana Government to International Chamber of Commerce Court of arbitration in London. CP is claiming US$200 million from the government.

One of the star witnesses of the German company is a Former Minister for Roads and Highways in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, Dr Ato Quarshie. He was at that post from March 1993 to March 1997.

Dr Quarshie, who was also a Member of Parliament for the Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem (KEEA) Constituency from 1993 to 2004, stated in his eleven-page witness statement that the entire investigation by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government was "a political act intended to embarrass and harass the NDC and me."

"At all time, I acted within the bounds of my authority as the Minister of Roads and Highways for the government of Ghana. I always worked with the best interests of Ghana and its road infrastructure in mind. The NPP was elected to power in 2000. I have been investigated by the Serious Fraud Office on at least three occasions and have been accused of the crime of conspiracy to Defraud, Defrauding by False Pretences and Causing Financial Loss to the State. As I told the Serious Fraud Office, I always acted in accordance with my authority and deny any allegations of wrongdoing.

Furthermore, I have full explained the facts and circumstances surrounding my decision to resolve the TRA/480KM claim and my efforts to pay this significant sum over time by tying the payment to or loading them onto the new contracts awarded under the Second MOU. Despite the clarity of my explanation the SFO and others in the new government administration have refused to accept this explanation. I consider the entire investigation as a political act intended to embarrass and harass the NDC and me.

As often occurs on construction projects, contractors like CP file contractual claims which I and the Ministry of Roads and transport must evaluate and then assess the most prudent course of action in handing the claim which is in the best interest of the government. Here, settlement of CP's claims was paramount in my view as the arbitration and litigation initiated by CP was becoming a significant distraction to the main purpose of my Ministry, which was to improve the road infrastructure for Ghana." Giving a background, Dr Quarshie, in his statement said:

"Construction Pionners Baugesellschaft ("CP") was a construction company that has been present in Ghana for a number of years and had performed several road projects for the government.

In March 1993, CP initiated three arbitrations against the government involving claims related to six separate construction contracts between CP and the government.

In May 1993, Mr Bernhard Plotner Initiated an additional arbitration involving a separate claim related to the origin Y-T Contract and another claim on the Trunk Road Asphalting ("TRA") Contract. On or about December 2, 1993, all cases referenced above were consolidated for administration and hearing purposes and assigned ICC Case No. 7087/HV.

As set forth above, I was the Ministry for the Ministry of Roads and Highways and thus the Employer on those contracts from the time the arbitration were initiated until they were finally settled in December 1996. Early in the year 1995, I was given full authority by Cabinet to resolve the remaining disputes between CP and the government of Ghana, after a substantial part of disputes was settled in an MOU dated December 1994."

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