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31.03.2006 General News

I gave $10,000 to 'Ms Anane' - ex-Ghanair Manager

By Graphic

A former General Manager (GM) of the Ghana Airways for the United States and Canada, Mr Obed Owusu Kissi, said he was asked on one occasion to give $10,000 to Ms Alexandria O'Brien in the United States of America.

He said he received a call from a pilot on a Ghana Airways flight to the United States that there were funds on board to be given to Ms O'Brien.

He added that he called his office in the USA, and detailed either the customer service officer, Mr Kofi Dickson, or the sales executive, Mr Eric Adjei, to receive the money and give it to Ms O'Brien, because he was engaged elsewhere.

Giving evidence during cross-examination by counsel for the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Dr P.E. Bondzie-Simpson, Mr Kissi who could not remember the name of the pilot who called him, said it was not unusual for money to be sent to people by that method.

This was at the 14th public hearings into allegations of corruption, abuse of power and misuse of office by the Minister of Road Transport, Dr Richard Anane,

Mr Kissi said he had met Ms O'Brien thrice in his official capacity as GM of the company, the first time being when she had come to the company's offices at Baltimore with an authorisation note from the headquarters of the Ghana Airways, for a free ticket to be issued to her.

According to him, authorisation note, as far as he could remember, indicated that a free ticket was to be issued to Ms Alexander Anane, the alleged “girlfriend” of the then Minister of Roads and Transport, but he could not remember who really signed it.

Mr Kissi said as a GM, he had a policy that any request for a free ticket had to be authorised either by the chief executive officer of the company, the head of the finance or marketing department or any of their assistants if the heads were not available, thus the ticket would have been signed by one of them.

He said the second time he met her was when his staff at his office in New York, USA, drew his attention to the fact that Ms O'Brien was trying to get a refund of the free ticket she had been issued, a request that was denied.

while the third encounter was when he saw her travelling on a Ghana Airways flight at the JFK Airport.

Counsel for Dr Anane, Mr Jacob Acquah-Sampson, during cross-examination, asked Mr Kissi whether as a result of the free ticket not being used by Ms O'Brien any loss was incurred by the company. Mr Kissi, however, replied in the negative.

Mr Kissi, upon further interrogation by Mr Acquah-Sampson, said he could not remember seeing the authorisation note and, therefore, could not definitely say that the note indicated that the ticket was to be given to Ms O'Brien.

When asked whether Ms O'Brien was Caucasian or black, Mr Kissi responded that he would be able to identify her if given a picture, but went on to add that the woman who had first been introduced to him as Dr Anane's wife was fair-skinned.

Mr Kissi said to the best of his knowledge, he did not know if the authorisation note for a free ticket was at the behest of Dr Anane.

When questioned by members of the panel, which included the acting Commissioner of CHRAJ, Ms Anna Bossman, the deputy Commissioner for Public Education and Anti Corruption, Mr Richard Quayson and the Director of Legal and Investigations, Ms Abena Bonsu, Mr Kissi explained that as a GM, he only gave out free tickets to commercially important passengers.

In other words, passengers who travelled frequently by the airline or had a good business relationship with it.

He said free tickets were authorised by others sometimes for ministers, their family or friends, while staff of the airline were entitled to two free tickets in a year.

When it was the turn for Mr Raymond Archer, Editor-in-chief of the Enquirer, to take the witness stand to be cross-examined again on issues relating to audio and video recordings on the matter, journalists were sent out, as counsel for both CHRAJ and Dr Anane submitted that the issues he was to be questioned about bordered on sovereign relations that might have implications for the country's foreign relations.