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General News Fri, 30 Nov 2001

Eddie Annan says his business is genuine

Mr Edward Annan, Chairman and Managing Director of EA Masai Group of Companies, currently being investigated for alleged business malpractice on Thursday denied any wrongdoing, saying he would come out clean at the end.

The Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), Serious Fraud Office, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice and Office of the President are investigating Mr Annan, a situation he attributes to what he described as unfounded reports and "misinformation" from the media.

Portfolios under the EA group include Masai Developers, Central Suppliers International Ltd. Masai Computer Services, Masai International Ltd, Masai Motors Limited, Masai Office Supermarket Ltd and General Industrial Maintenance Services Ltd.

Addressing a press conference in Accra, Mr Annan explained specific allegations and what he called speculations on his relationship with some members of the former government including ex-Vice President John Evans Atta Mills and former first lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, describing them as good friends.

He also stated that he was a friend to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to which he had made contributions. However, he said, he neither gained any undue business favour or influenced any policy decision by the former government as a result of this friendship.

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He responded to questions raised about his company's transactions with some state institutions particularly, the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and the Accra Abattoir.

He said his company started dealing with the GPHA in 1987 when it participated in its rehabilitation programme as representatives of Damen Shipyards of the Netherlands and C.Itoh of Japan after the two won a World Bank sponsored bid to undertake the project.

He denied reports that Masai Motors had a monopoly of supplying vehicles to SSNIT, maintaining that it sold only 15 out of 100 cars the Trust procured last year.

Mr Annan dismissed reports that the Accra Abattoir was not viable, explaining that when Masai got involved with the project, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly had already acquired the site, which critics now say was too far away from town.

He said the only problem facing the Abattoir was lack of patronage and called on stakeholders to "put their emotions aside" and treat the project purely as a business, thereby turning it into a workable and profitable enterprise.

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Mr Annan, who was appearing before the media for the first time since the first media allegations were published last year, said he was compelled to speak out because the press bashing had dealt a major blow to his business reputation.

"Great careers are built on reputation and a stain on that reputation destroys them. I do not claim to be great, but the smear on my character does affect my ability to be a good employer and jeopardises the jobs of many Ghanaians who work for me."

Mr Annan said in recent times the volume of his business, which he struggled to establish over three decades had dwindled, forcing him to downsize his staff by 100.

Mr Annan said he was unaware of any attempt by the government to "crush him and his business" as reported in an Accra newspaper but said he heard of moves by a minister of state to impress upon some of his principals to withdraw their franchise from Masai.

He confirmed that in the past few weeks, some state institutions had abrogated businesses with Masai but declined to impute political motives for the action by those institutions.

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"I want to stay with the facts available to me. I do not have reasons to believe that the current government is up to do me in because of my support for the previous government."

Mr Annan also denied that his wife was a card-holding member of the 31st December Women's Movement.

"My wife is more into charity work. She wakes up reading through the newspapers to locate needy people in order to extend her charity to them," Mr Annan said citing the paying of school fees and medical bills for the needy as well as taking care of nannies, as focus areas for her wife, who is also the deputy Managing Director of Masai.

Source: GNA