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General News Tue, 29 Oct 2002

My lips are sealed on IFC loan - Schneider

*Ghana gov’t must talk on loan agreement, not me, he says
*World Bank hqtrs confirms it has no dealings with IFC

Close to five weeks after his meeting with government officials in Germany, the only publicly known member of the International Finance Consortium (IFC) and President of Chemac Inc, Mr. Horst Schneider, says his organisation’s lips have been sealed on the controversial $1 billion loan to Ghana.

He also says it is the duty and responsibility of the Kufuor administration to speak on the controversial loan, not him.

“Your government must tell you this, not me. If your government tells you, fine. We are a private consortium and our mouths have been sealed”, Schneider said on Monday, August 12.

Schneider’s remarks deviate from his earlier promise to explain issues on the controversial loan after his return from the meeting with government officials led by Senior Minister, Mr. J. H. Mensah.

Schneider, who spoke after he returned a phone call to his office, nearly backed out of the agreed interview that was made subsequent to his meeting with the Ghanaian officials.

But after this reporter had pressed home the need for him to explain the issues, he agreed to grant the interview by the end of this month.

He claimed he would be travelling to meet officials of other countries to arrange for similar IFC loans and that he and his partner might meet Ghanaian officials later on the proposed loan.

Meantime, officials of the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC in subsequent interviews a fortnight ago, reiterated the Bank’s earlier statement on the IFC and the controversial loan, saying the bank has no dealings with the IFC.

After weeks of waiting for the return of vacationing officers of the bank to speak on the issue, World Bank Country Programme Director for Ghana, Nicola Dyer, said last week that the position of the bank in its statement hasn’t changed.

She said the bank is holding talks with the government on the issue. Ms. Dyer is expected to travel to Accra by the end of this month to follow up discussions on the issue and to prepare the ground for the assumption of office of Mr. Peter Harrold’s successor.

Sources this reporter met at a World Bank Consultative Meeting on Media and Corruption at the bank’s headquarters in Washington in March 2001, however, explained that the bank is likely to deal with the government through diplomatic channels rather than engage it publicly.

Despite its claims of a credible lending history and statements by Ghanaian officials that it has the endorsement of the Bretton-Woods institutions, the World Bank statement on the IFC issued last month indicated that it is yet to learn of the IFC from Ghana.

“…The World Bank has no dealings with nor direct knowledge of the International Finance Consortium. We are pursuing inquiries with the Ghanaian authorities about the details of this possible transaction”, the statement said.

Contacts with the bank, including the office of the bank’s Vice President for External Affairs and various officers last month, saw the same statement being reiterated.

The Parliament-approved loan agreement requires Schneider’s IFC, which is different from the widely recognised and respected International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector lending arm of the World Bank Group, to provide Ghana an investment capital of $1 billion repayable over 25 years at an annual interest rate of 2.5 percent.

The loan agreement has been the subject of serious controversy for weeks following statements about the IFC, which have turned out to be false.

There is almost no public record available on the IFC here in the US to lend credence to the claims it makes. Claims that major American companies like Chemac Inc are behind it have also turned out to be empty.

Chemac is in fact a small sales and service family company not listed among companies on the northern New Jersey (NJ) database of 18,211 companies on Better Business Bureau (BBB), a credible index of corporate America.

Neither Chemac, which has only two offices across the 52 states in the US, nor the IFC is on the ivy league of major business enterprises in the US. Chemac’s only other office is in Houston, Texas.

Chris Schneider, a son of Horst Schneider, heads the Houston office.



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Source: Alfred Ogbamey (Tampa, Florida)
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