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22.11.2005 General News

Castle Hijacks Kickbacks

By Enquirer
Castle Hijacks Kickbacks
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Welcome to Osu Castle, the seat of government. It opens its doors each morning and closes them in the evening to the President and a myriad of workers including aides who strive daily to contribute their quota to the effective administration of the nation. Located on the foot hills of Osu-in Accra, the colonial slave dungeon which shares borders with the Atlantic Oceans is entertained by the rhythm less tunes from the sea waves and a beautiful sandy beach. But behind this pristine atmosphere comes the most shocking revelation from the ruling New Patriotic Party's National Chairman, Mr. Haruna Esseku. It is the kind of revelation, which can ignite a big FBI probe, if we were in America. He says the seat of government is engaged in the corrupt odyssey of receiving kickbacks from the awards of government contracts. Mr. Esseku also sits in the President's Cabinet. Speaking to party gurus in a heavily guarded secret meeting but which was captured by The Enquirer through enterprise reporting, the party Chairman, said the kickbacks which is meant for the administration of the party has been hijacked by the Castle. According to the Chairman, during the National Democratic Congress era, they took 10% of all contracts as kickback to finance the party but the NPP has no fixed percentage to as kickback. He said that the Castle has set up a mechanism to deal with how the kickbacks are paid. 'I called one of the Ministers and asked him, why have you not been paying the money and he said oh! So you don't know about this? We have been shown where to send the money' the Party Chair said. Mr. Esseku said 'I asked many several contractors, why they have not been paying (the kickbacks) and they laugh at me and said, how can we be doing this business and would not be paying' When asked at the secret meeting how the monies are collected, Mr. Esseku said the Ministers receive and pay to the Castle but big companies (names withheld) whose contracts runs into several figures pay directly to the Castle. He continued that during the voters registration exercise, he needed a lot of money and he knew that a certain Minister had awarded a lot of contracts so he asked him to bring some money but the Minister said the Money has been sent to the Castle. The Party Chairman, who is said to have been the youngest Minister in Dr. A.K. Abrefa Busia's United Party (UP) government said he later received about ¢10 billion Cedis from the Castle for the registration exercise. Haruna Esseku "I don't know who keeps the money, the only thing I know is that when I go to the Castle, I present the budget to the President, I wait in the President's office, he reads through the budget and he signals his men" He said he spends time chatting with the President and 'before I go, the money is dumped at the back of my car in bags' When he was asked at the secret meeting whether the kickbacks was the only source of finance for the party, and also whether the money was not coming personally from the President, he said that contributions from Ministers and party supporters form an infinitesimal portion of the party's finances. On whether the President is not bankrolling the party he said 'the money I collect at the Castle, can't come from his pocket or his allowance, how much is allowance, I know his salary" He further explained that when a party is in opposition, party members ensure they the pay their dues, but as soon as they win power, they relax. This is what he said is happening to the NPP. Mr. Esseku, who is respected within the party for his tactical abilities said, he receives monies such as the one for the voters registration exercise; he shares the money and transport it by road to the various constituencies. He said, they don't usually put all the money in one car, adding that sometimes they have "backups" just in case the first consignment of cash doesn't reach its destination. He complained about the lack of transparency regarding the management of the 'kickbacks fund' at the Castle and indicated that the kickback fund's managers are using their control over the said funds as a bait to show influence in the party including whipping its executives into a state of submission. He told executives that, the party has only two accounts and that one of the accounts has been in the reds for a long time whilst the other has just about ¢500,000. According to him, he wrote a memo to the President between June-July 2002 that party money in the bosom of the Castle should be repatriated back to the Finance Committee of the party, which is responsible for the management of the party's kitty. Mr. Esau said he did not hear from the President on this matter adding that the only reply he got were attempts to malign him that he pocketed over ¢500 million. He explained during the secret meeting that he indeed received the said amount from one of the party's businessmen and that he judiciously utilized the money for party activities and prepared an account on it. (Stay put tuned-More anon)

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