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General News Tue, 29 Oct 2002

BOG had not completed due diligence when loan was passed.

As talks between government and the International Financial Consortium (IFC) for the release of $350 million being the first tranche of the $1billion loan agreement reaches the homestretch, Concord investigations and documentary evidence available indicate that at the time the loan agreement was passed by Parliament in July this year after initial clearance by the Finance Committee of Parliament, the Bank of Ghana (BOG) had not completed its due diligence check on the consortium.

The only information about the consortium that was made available was the Curriculum Vitae (CV) of two of its board members.

The Bank of Ghana (BOG), which is responsible for investigating the background of the consortium, did not complete its work before the Minister of Finance brought the agreement to the floor of the august House for approval.

As at the time Parliament was going on recess, the Bank of Ghana was still making frantic efforts to obtain relevant information on IFC from Dun and Bradstreet, a high profile United States based establishment reputed for its due diligence work.

Dun and Bradstreet, according to Concord?s authoritative sources, could have furnished the government with the due diligence report in 48 hours. However, two months later, the Bank of Ghana (BOG) is yet to confirm that the check has been completed (read later editions of the National Concord for more details).

Undaunted by the flurry of protests from both internal and external sources over the agreement, Finance Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo, jetted out of the country early this month on a mission to consummate the agreement that took him to Spain, Germany and Britain where he met with the ?shadowy? officials of the consortium.

For the days the tour lasted, he was hobnobbing with the IFC officials- whose identity is yet to be unmasked by government to Ghanaians- in a bid to tie all the loose ends of the agreement and also to secure the release of the first tranche of $350m, Concord gathered.

The only visibly known individual connected to the International Financial Consortium (IFC) is 65-year-old German-American, Horst Schneider, who also heads Chemac Inc, a small New Jersey based company that deals in pressure pumps and pipes.

Concord has gathered that, this current hobnobbing with the company is a move to seek assurance that Ghana is not going to be fleeced.

The officials of the offshore banking company had reportedly assuaged the minister?s anxiety and reservation by reviewing some aspects of the agreement, which may be detrimental to the interest of Ghana.

Concord has learnt that the minister will soon embark on a public relations binge to convince Ghanaians to accept the ?new? deal.

In spite of this, Ghanaians are still divided over the genuineness or otherwise of the International Financial Consortium (IFC) agreement.

Speakers at various fora have not relented in expressing concern at the apparent haste at which the loan transaction was handled without the input of the investment, legal and banking community in the country and the general public.

As talks between government and the International Financial Consortium (IFC) for the release of $350 million being the first tranche of the $1billion loan agreement reaches the homestretch, Concord investigations and documentary evidence available indicate that at the time the loan agreement was passed by Parliament in July this year after initial clearance by the Finance Committee of Parliament, the Bank of Ghana (BOG) had not completed its due diligence check on the consortium.

The only information about the consortium that was made available was the Curriculum Vitae (CV) of two of its board members.

The Bank of Ghana (BOG), which is responsible for investigating the background of the consortium, did not complete its work before the Minister of Finance brought the agreement to the floor of the august House for approval.

As at the time Parliament was going on recess, the Bank of Ghana was still making frantic efforts to obtain relevant information on IFC from Dun and Bradstreet, a high profile United States based establishment reputed for its due diligence work.

Dun and Bradstreet, according to Concord?s authoritative sources, could have furnished the government with the due diligence report in 48 hours. However, two months later, the Bank of Ghana (BOG) is yet to confirm that the check has been completed (read later editions of the National Concord for more details).

Undaunted by the flurry of protests from both internal and external sources over the agreement, Finance Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo, jetted out of the country early this month on a mission to consummate the agreement that took him to Spain, Germany and Britain where he met with the ?shadowy? officials of the consortium.

For the days the tour lasted, he was hobnobbing with the IFC officials- whose identity is yet to be unmasked by government to Ghanaians- in a bid to tie all the loose ends of the agreement and also to secure the release of the first tranche of $350m, Concord gathered.

The only visibly known individual connected to the International Financial Consortium (IFC) is 65-year-old German-American, Horst Schneider, who also heads Chemac Inc, a small New Jersey based company that deals in pressure pumps and pipes.

Concord has gathered that, this current hobnobbing with the company is a move to seek assurance that Ghana is not going to be fleeced.

The officials of the offshore banking company had reportedly assuaged the minister?s anxiety and reservation by reviewing some aspects of the agreement, which may be detrimental to the interest of Ghana.

Concord has learnt that the minister will soon embark on a public relations binge to convince Ghanaians to accept the ?new? deal.

In spite of this, Ghanaians are still divided over the genuineness or otherwise of the International Financial Consortium (IFC) agreement.

Speakers at various fora have not relented in expressing concern at the apparent haste at which the loan transaction was handled without the input of the investment, legal and banking community in the country and the general public.

A similar situation easily cited is the decision of the Kufuor administration to forge ahead with its decision to access the opportunities under the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative minus public debate. At a recent round table conference organised by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), an Anti-Corruption Coalition in Accra, a Senior Consultant of the World Bank was forced to draw parallels between the World Bank IFC and the Schneider?s IFC.

Mr. John Heilbrunn, a Professor of the Colorado School of Mines, had intervened during discussion time after one of the contributors had spoken about the difficulties he (contributor) had encountered getting access to information about the International Financial Consortium (IFC).

Prof. Heilbrunn, who thought the contributor, was referring to the International Financial Company (IFC) volunteered to help him gain the information he needed. The difference between the two IFC?s was quickly pointed out to him.

Even though the details of the new deal is still hushed, Concord can reveal that it would lead ultimately to the immediate release of the first tranche of $350m to facilitate the smooth take-off of some infrastructural projects in the country.

The Deputy Minister of Finance, Mrs. Grace Coleman could not comment on the reviewed agreement because the minister had not briefed her on it yet. ?I can?t comment on something I?m ignorant about,? she told the National Concord at her office.

Concord could neither reach the Finance Minister, Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo, nor his Special Assistant, Dr Osei Akoto, after almost two weeks of intensive efforts. Mr Osafo Maafo had reportedly left for Kumasi last week when Concord made a contact at his office.

As at the time of going to press, both the minister and his assistant were busy attending meetings.

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Source: Paa Kwesi Plange & Abdul Hakim Ahmed
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