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20.03.2006 General News

Duodu-Bonsu Admits Remitting Ms O’Brien

Mr Collins Kwame Duodu-Bonsu, a bosom friend of the Minister of Road Transport, Dr Richard Anane, has said that he remitted Ms Alexandria O'Brien more than $72,000 in credit card cheques and $18,000 in cash out of his own resources over the period December 2001 to May 2003.
He said he did that because of his friendship with the minister and to prevent any scandal that might have arisen if Ms O'Brien had gone ahead with her threat of making public her relationship with the minister.
Mr Duodu-Bonsu said this when he was being cross-examined by counsel for the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Dr P.E. Bondzie-Simpson, in Accra at the public hearings into allegations of corruption, misuse of office and abuse of power by the minister.
He said by virtue of his close relationship with the minister, and the fact that he carried himself as the minister's special assistant, he was of the opinion that if he had not done that and she had gone public, he would also have been implicated, as he was most often seen in the company of the minister.
Explaining why he used several people when remitting Ms O'Brien, including Mr Kingsley Gyebi, Mr Kofi Nyame, Mr Eric de Graft, Ms Vivienne Adai Mensah and Eric Adjei, Mr Duodu-Bonsu said he used them for record purposes to make sure that the money he sent to Ms O'Brien actually reached her.
He added that in the case of Eric Adjei, the money was sent through Captain Kwakwa, who was at the time the acting Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Airways, who in turn arranged to have Eric Adjei, an official at the Ghana Airways office in the USA, give the money to Ms O'Brien Mr Duodu-Bonsu said he did that because the first time he sent money to Ms O'Brien by cheque, she claimed she did not receive it, a claim he did not believe, and added that using the banks required documentation and a tedious procedure.
He, therefore, decided subsequently to ensure that all the money he gave her could be traced by sending the cheques or cash through people for her to arrange to collect them.
He insisted that he did not have any bad motive for using different people, explaining that he used anyone who could offer him that service.
He objected to the suggestion that the minister had instructed him to contiune with the remittances, saying the minister was aware that he had given Ms O'Brien some money but he could not have known the details, since they did not come up for discussion.
Although Mr Duodu-Bonsu said he knew Ms O'Brien to be talkative and a persistent lady, he said he did not think it was possible that she would have told the minister about the remittances he made to her.
He said further that the basis for that conclusion was the fact that she was inconsistent, having denied that she had received money even when she had.
He added that he stopped remitting Ms O'Brien in May 2003 when he realised her deception and her intentions to blackmail the minister, especially when, at a point, after he had told her that he did not have money to give her, Ms O'Brien remarked that she did not understand why Dr Anane, an African minister, who claimed to cherish his relationship with her, could not find the money through contracts to do so.
Mr Duodu-Bonsu then recounted how, on one of his visits to Dr Anane's residence, he found Ms O'Brien distraught, compelling him to prevail on her to move out and lodge at the La Palm Beach Hotel.
He said he later informed Dr Anane about what he had seen, adding that prior to that, he had advised Dr Anane to let Ms O'Brien lodge elsewhere but the minister had replied that he did not have the money to make that possible. At that time, had assured Dr Anane that he would take it upon himself to get the woman somewhere to stay.
He said he footed all the bills for the week that Ms O'Brien spent at the hotel, including meals, and paid up when she was checking out, although he could not remember the amount involved.
When questioned by Dr Bondzie-Simpson whether it was not odd for him to have borrowed from credit cards to support a friend's family, Mr Duodu-Bonsu replied, “I did that because he was my friend and for that relationship I thought I owed him that duty.”
He also dismissed the suggestion that his statement of having provided assistance to the tune of more than $70, 000 was not what actually happened.
He insisted that the responsibility of exclusively bearing the burden of more than $70,000 in credit card cheques, with its attendant interest, without help from the Road Transport Minister nor his having knowledge of the details of the remittances, was borne purely for friendship's sake.
Mr Duodu-Bonsu said when Ms O'Brien expressed interest in providing services for the National Identification System (NIS), she mentioned it to him but he did not provide any assistance to her in her bid to do that.
Counsel for Dr Anane, Mr Jacob Acquah-Sampson, asked whether Mr Duodu-Bonsu knew if any of the remittances came from public sources. To this, the latter responded in the negative.
Meanwhile, Mr Acquah-Sampson, on behalf of his client and the other lawyers of his team, has indicated to the commission their displeasure with the commission's ruling on the need for a formal complaint.
He said they would seek a judicial review of the ruling.
Story By Caroline Boateng