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20.02.2006 General News

Kufuor orders probe into $8m SIMNET ‘deal’

By Daily Dispatch

There are credible reports that the President has ordered a thorough investigation into media reports alleging malfeasance and corruption in the US $8 million (¢73 billion) acquisition of SIMNET by the Social Security and National Trust (SSNIT), reports the daily Dispatch.

One of the issues the paper focused on was the value of the 85 per cent shares had allegedly been inflated from an estimated US$2.5 million to the purchase price of $8 million.

According to the paper there are indications that a couple of those involved are already citing pitiful excuses like 'unity of the NPP and government is at stake', ' we need to be careful not to give the ammunition too fire at us' and 'why should we bow to pressure from the Media'

The paper in 2004 carried more than six front-page stories, cautioning government about the risk in letting the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) buy 85 per cent shares in SIMNET Ghana Limited to the tune of over US $8 million.

Nevertheless, the SSNIT board approved and paid the $8 million.

SSNIT took over on July 8, 2004, an interim Management Commission (IMC) was put in place.

From August to date, no work has been done.

In March 2005 Chief Executive of Officer; Kwasi Baidoo contested the 2004 Parliamentary elections on the ticket of the Convention People's Party (CPP) in the Ejisu Juaben Constituency in the Ashanti region.

The chairman of the six members SIMNET Board is the Managing Director of GLICO, Mr Acheampong Kyei, Mr Kwabena Osei Boateng and Nat Otoo as members.

A deputy minister for the Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWAC), J.B Danquah represents Craig Holdings who have the remaining 15 per cent shares.

The other two members are Mr Ernest Thompson and Mr Philip Baffour-Awuah.

“Whilst we were informed there was no money, the Board Members were each paid their annual $6,000 (over ¢55 million) directors fees,” one of the workers said.

SIMNET has declared its workers redundant and beginning this month, there will be no money to pay the workers.

The paper had earlier in June 2004 reported that workers of SIMNET were worried about retrenchment exercise that was due to take place.

Whilst there is no proof that President Kufuor may not have details on SSNIT and SIMNET deal, some of those pushing for the deal to go through and who have allegedly been compromised, have implied some sort of approval from some highly placed officials at the Presidency.

A SSNIT source said, “My brother some top government officials of SSNIT and some highly placed people in government are behind this deal. We are powerless, God save us.”