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When former Ghanaian President John Mahama collaborated with the controversial Ameri Group in Namibia, he used the African Development Bank as a door opener.
The influential bank now says it had nothing to do with the visit.
John Mahama presented himself as a representative of the development bank when he travelled to Namibia with a tempting offer in July. The aim of the visit, he claimed, was to help companies from Dubai to gain a foothold in Namibia’s energy sector.
The former president asserted that the African Development Bank had identified Namibia as one of five countries that could produce energy and export it to other African countries in the future.
To the press, he added that the development bank could contribute its own investments.
On Saturday, VG reported that the former president of Ghana had brought to the meeting in Namibia two men from a highly controversial company, The private office of Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum. This company owns Ameri group. Umar Farooq Zahoor, an Oslo man accused of fraud, plays a key role in the company.
In 2015 Ameri Group signed a massive energy contract in Ghana while Mahama was president. The contract has caused a political row in Ghana and has been characterised as fraudulant by a government-appointed committee.
For some time VG has been seeking to clarify Mahama’s role in the African Development Bank as well as the bank’s role in Mahama’s Namibia visit.
At first Chawki Chahed, a communication officer at the bank, replied that Mahama had been named a «goodwill ambassador» by the bank.
But in a follow-up inquiry, when VG provided new information on Mahama’s unusual collaboration, the development bank backed away, claiming it had nothing to do with Mahama’s visit at all.
This time it was the bank’s director of communication and external relations, Victor Oladokun, who replied:
What is the bank ’s comment on these findings about Mr. John Mahama?
– Former President John Mahama does not represent the Bank, neither is the Bank involved in his business dealings. Once again, we categorically state that the African Development Bank has no knowledge of nor is it engaged in any transactions involving the parties you have indicated. None of the said transactions have been done in the name of the Bank.
Why does the African Development Bank allow Mr Mahama – in his capacity as the bank’s goodwill ambassador – to work for such a company as Ameri Group/the private office of Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum?
– The Bank does not have an official position or «Goodwill Ambassador» title. Rather, we encourage leaders to use their goodwill to speak up for Africa’s accelerated development, whenever they have opportunities to do so. The African Development Bank does not know of and neither does it work with nor have any relationship with the group mentioned in your correspondence.
According to the Namibian authorities, it was Mahama who initiated the meeting and brought the two men from the controversial Dubai company to Namibia.
Can you guarantee that this is not corruption?
– The Bank has zero tolerance for corruption. Like all multilateral finance institutions, the African Development Bank takes a very strict stand on corruption at any and all levels. Through an integrity and anti-corruption department, the Bank imposes stiff penalties that debar any company engaged in corrupt practices from participating in any work with the Bank,” Oladokun replied.
Until Saturday it was not known who the men from Dubai actually worked for: the private office of Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum.
Africa’s regional development bank was established in 1964 and its shareholders include 54 African countries and 27 non-African countries. The purpose of the development bank aims is to support economic and social development in Africa.
Neither has Mr. Mahama nor Ameri Group replied to VG's request for interviews about this topic.
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