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15.05.2006 Critics

Palaver dissects “Hotel Kufuor” report

By Palaver
Palaver dissects “Hotel Kufuor” report

C-O-R-R-U-P-T-I-O-N!.....— that is what “Hotel Kufuor” is all about

And it came to pass, that “Chief” John Addo Kufuor, the 41-year old Chartered Accountant son of President John Agyekum Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana, formed a Company called “Accra West Hospitality Company Limited” (AWHCL) and bought a Hotel.

“Chief” Kufuor is the sole shareholder of the Company that bought the Hotel. His sister, Nana Ama Kufuor, the President's daughter, is the only other Director.

The Hotel is situated two doors away from the residence of Chief Kufuor's father, John Agyekum Kufuor, where the latter stays. The President himself has bought a single-storey building in between the Hotel and his private residence from its owner, a Lebanese lady.

The Hotel cost US$3.5 million. It was funded by Prudential Bank, a Bank which is part-owned by SSNIT, a wholly state-owned enterprise, by the National Investment Bank (NIB), a wholly state-owned Bank, and by the ECOWAS Regional Investment Bank (ERIB), which advanced US$1 million to the Hotel.

At that time, President Kufuor was the Chairman of ECOWAS and Mr. J. S. Addo, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Prudential Bank, was President Kufuor's representative on the ERIB and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of ERIB. He was, and still is a member of President Kufuor's Council of State.

With all this as background, President Kufuor is found to be “squeaky-clean”, knows nothing about the Hotel purchase, there is no conflict of interest involved and there is no corruption involved. So says the word of Ms Anna Bossman, Acting Chairperson of the CHRAJ. And the word was with her. And her word was God.

For according to Anna Bossman, she, acting God, has put the lid of finality on any further investigations into the “Hotel Kufuor” affair. “The Commission therefore concludes that further investigation into these allegations is not warranted”, so ends her Report.

Well, Anna Bossman can play God in the eyes of President Kufuor and think that she has exonerated the President, but the people of Ghana will play their own God and they will determine when investigations into “Hotel Kufuor” shall end. Now let us take a look at what Anna Bossman herself has written in her Report.

Anna Bossman: 1. The property known as “Hotel Kufuor”—is situated on Plots Nos 237 and 238 next to the President's private residence at the Airport West Residential Area.

Ghana Palaver: Wrong. The Hotel is not situated next to the President's private residence. It is situated two doors away from the President's private residence. There is a single-storey house belonging to a Lebanese lady in between the President's residence and the Hotel, which the President has allegedly bought in order to facilitate easy access to the Hotel.

Anna Bossman: 5. Chief Kufuor was the sole shareholder of AWHCL. He is also the sole signatory to the AWHCL's accounts.

Ghana Palaver: At the beginning, we were made to understand that some Europe-based Ghanaians were co-shareholders in the Hotel.

Anna Bossman: 7. Chief Kufuor applied to Prudential Bank Ltd (PBL) for assistance in mobilizing a sum of about US$5,600,000.00 to $6 Million to acquire and complete the construction of the Hotel and to operate it.

8. PBL accepted the invitation and then invited the National Investment Bank (NIB), Home Finance Company Limited (HFC) Bank, First Atlantic Merchant Bank, and the ECOWAS Regional Investment Bank (ERIB) to participate in financing the acquisition and completion of the Hotel.

10. PBL, [a private bank, whose major shareholders included, National Trust Holding Company - 40%; J. S. Addo Consultants - 33%; SSNIT - 10% and E. N. Omaboe - 10%,] granted a term loan of US$1,000,000.00 and equity subscription of US$100,000 in favour of Airport West Hospitality Company Limited (AWHCL).

12. The National Investment Bank (NIB) agreed to finance the Hotel with an amount of $2,500,000, which includes equity subscription of $200,000.

16. PBL made all the payments and NIB later refunded US$2,000,000 to PBL. Ghana Palaver: The National Trust Holding Company, 40% shareholders in PBL, is a wholly state-owned enterprise. SSNIT, 40% shareholders in PBL, is likewise a wholly state-owned enterprise. It is therefore not wholly accurate to describe PBL as “a private bank”.

The NIB, which put up US$2,000,000.00 of the cost, is a wholly state-owned Bank. We note that though Anna Bossman takes pains to describe PBL as “a private bank”, she does not find it necessary to similarly describe NIB as “a state Bank”.

Anna Bossman: 18. Further support came from the Ecowas Regional Investment Bank (ERIB)—

20. 17th August 2005, the Board of Directors of ERIB approved an amount of UA 670,000, an equivalent of US$1,000,000 in favour of AWHCL. The loan facility is to be secured as follows:

i. The execution of a “first class mortgage pari pasu with co-financiers over the Hotel building;—

Ghana Palaver: 9th August 2005, President Kufuor at a Press Conference had categorically denied that the ECOWAS Bank had granted any facility to his son for the purchase of the Hotel. Of course, we note that the facility was granted one week after the denial, but we also understand “the game” that is being played.

The following coincidences about the ERIB facility are significant:

(i) At the time the Hotel's application was made to the ECOWAS Bank, President Kufuor was the Chairman of ECOWAS and Mr. J. S. Addo was the Chairman of the ERIB.

(ii) Mr. J. S. Addo, as Chairman of the Prudential Bank, was the one who made the application to the ECOWAS Bank to be approved by him as Chairman of the ECOWAS Bank.

(iii) Mr. J. S. Addo was and is a member of President Kufuor's Council of State.

(iv) The facility to Chief Kufuor was the only facility made to any Ghanaian by the ECOWAS Bank for the period that President Kufuor was the Chairman of the regional body.

(v) At the time he became Chairman of ECOWAS, a facility for US$10 million had been approved for a Ghanaian industrialist based at Kasoa who manufactures polythene bags for salt export to the landlocked ECOWAS countries.

(vi) No other security apart from the Hotel itself was provided for the loan.

Anna Bossman: 24. Though Ms. Yazji took part in the negotiations for the purchase of the Hotel at least on two occasions, the three critical people who dealt with Ms. Yazji, that is, Chief Kufuor, Hon. Yeboah and Anthony Saoud, could not agree on her role or who she represented.

Ghana Palaver: Is this not the very reason why Ms. Bossman cannot foreclose investigations? How can one say one has concluded investigations when one is admitting that there are unresolved contradictions in the investigations?

Anna Bossman: Ms. Yazji has not provided any evidence to the Commission linking the President to the Hotel to substantiate her claims that she negotiated for the Hotel on behalf of the President.

Ghana Palaver: The following incidents are significant in the assessment of this finding of Ms. Bossman:

(i) The Government and its agencies made it impossible for Ms. Yazji to enter into the country to give evidence;

(ii) Ms. Yazji produced a note in the handwriting of Chief Kufuor asking her to make contact about the possibility of converting the building into a Hospital. Did Anna Bossman ask Chief Kufuor about the circumstances in which he came to write that note?

(iii) Ms. Yazji stated that Chief of Staff Kwadwo Mpiani gave her the drawings of the Hotel in preparation for the negotiations and that it was from the drawings that she got to know that Mr. Saoud did not have all the necessary authorizations for the Hotel. This strengthened her hand during the negotiations. Did Anna Bossman question the Chief of Staff about this allegation?

One thing is certain - “Hotel Kufuor” is about corruption; it is about conflict of interest; it is about abuse of office and of office, and it is about bringing the Presidency into disrepute.

Anna Bossman can do all the spinning she likes, she can do all the whitewashing she likes; she can do all the cover-ups that she likes; but she must remember the wise saying of our elders that “it is when the frog dies that we find out its true length”.

Surely, surely, the NPP will get out of power one day, and the people of Ghana shall find out the truth.

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