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02.06.2005 General News

Another Prez Friend Milks Dying COY

Chronicle
Another Prez Friend Milks Dying COY

...laps Pajero, plush bungalows goodies as losses mount June 02, (Chronicle) -- The divestiture of the once vibrant and largest diamond mine in West Africa, Ghana Consolidated Diamond (GCD), is in disarray as multiple problems engulf this prized national asset even as a man priding himself on being a 'prison mate' and diplomat friend of the President, lives in it royally with chauffeur-driven four-wheel drive and a plush company mansion.

Even though Mr. Joseph Godson Amamoo, a former editor of the Ghanaian Times and author of self-serving propaganda pieces, refuses to speak to the catalogue of accusations against him similar to that which swept away Mr. Kofi Asante of the Energy Commission, tension is evident everywhere following Chronicle's snap visit to the Akwatia mines.

Concerns over the degenerating state of the company have been growing for the last three years over the hijacking of the company by the Board Chairman, who operates as if he occupies the position of a Managing Director (MD) who is in charge of operations.

The Board Chairman continues to occupy the company's residential facility, originally meant for MDs of the company, in spite of a series of petitions by the Senior Staff Association (SSA), to the Chief of Staff Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani.

Mr. Amamoo is said also to have taken over the marketing of the company's diamond. Whilst he lives at the plush mansion of GCD at the Airport Residential Area, meant for its MDs, since his appointment, the current MD, Maxwell Kusi Mensah, is living at Akwatia, where the company has its concession.

It would be recalled that in one of such petitions to the Chief of Staff in 2002, the SSA expressed grave concern over the sudden take-over of the marketing of the company's diamond by the Board Chairman, contrary to regulations that the Precious Mineral Marketing Company (PMMC) supervise the sale of diamonds.

Also, they complained bitterly about his occupation of the Birim Lodge (the company's official residence) alongside his using an office originally meant for the MD of the company at its head office, located at Roman Ridge in Accra.

Reminiscent of the 'Gutter-to-gutter' claims of Kofi Asante, Mr. Amamoo is said to have told a gathering of agitated workers of GCD, during a meeting over letters written by the workers to government, calling for his removal, that the President was his prison mate, and hence would not cause his removal just because of workers' agitation.

Mr. Amamoo is said to have told the workers that it was due to the confidence the President has in him, that he made him the chairman of a board of enquiry into affairs at the Asutsuare Sugar Factory.

As a result of this, the company spends over ¢3 million every month on his occupation of the Birim Lodge facility, excluding bills incurred on telephone, electricity and water.

Chairman's Toyota land cruiser Mr. Amamoo has since his appointment been allocated a chauffeur-driven four-wheel drive Toyota land cruiser, a practice which recently attracted a lot of public consternation, following the exposure of this practice at the Energy Commission, under Kofi Asante, and the then Board Chairman, who were cited in a spending spree at the expense of the Commission and taxpayers.

Bills

Indications are that utility bills incurred at the residence, including water, electricity, and telephone, are all footed by the company.

Also, hospital bills of Mr. Amamoo's family are all said to be at the expense of the struggling company.

Board meetings

In the said letter to the Chief of Staff, the workers complained also about how the Board, under the chairmanship of Amamoo, has taken over the Tributer system (GALAMSEY) which had been a management function, the result of which, they said, necessitated a bi-weekly meeting of the Board, where each member receives a sitting allowance of ¢500,000.00, while the chairman takes home ¢2 million per sitting.

The workers consider the practice as unfortunate as they said previous GCD Boards met quarterly, hence spent a little over ¢10million every month on Board meetings, excluding meals, entertainment and transport.

Board given six months to divestify

Information has it that, just upon assumption of power, the NPP government set up the Board under the chairmanship of Mr. Amamoo which tasked its membership to see to the successful divestiture of the company within six months. Their brief was to find a competent investor which could turn the fortunes of the once vibrant mining concessionary, which is now tottering. However, five years down the line, the company's divestiture is still in limbo.

Information gathered by the paper indicates that some high-ranking members of the government, hiding behind front men, have invested heavily in the concession's tributer (galamsey), which they are strenuously fighting to protect, hence the inability of government and the Board to divest the company.

According to sources, when the company is divested to the new owners, the operations of the tributers, would be permanently abrogated, obviously leading to the collapse of their investments.

Sources close to the company hinted the paper that, in one transaction, a minister encountered a problem with one of such front men over the rightful ownership of the tributer, because the said front man is dissatisfied with what he was getting out of the deal, and felt he was being given a raw deal by the minister, who is said to have invested ¢200million.

An insider hinted the paper that for fear of losing their heavy investments, the ministers involved are resisting the divesture process, which the workers believe is the only means for a breather for the struggling company.

Information also has it that the company owes its workers well over ¢2 billion, including Provident Fund, Travelling Fund, Credit Union Association and Union dues, which should have been paid into the various accounts, but have not been paid.

A visit by the paper to the concession at Akwatia revealed very slow activity, with most of the machines lying virtually dormant.

When contacted, the Board Chairman declined to speak publicly or to any press man on issues concerning him or the GCD, giving as reason what he said was series of death threats he had received on phone from unknown persons.

He indicated that he had since lodged a complaint with the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), and therefore asked this reporter to quote him everywhere as having made the above comments.

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