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Akufo-Addo’s silence after one year of PDS scandal worrying 

Judg Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana

Mon, 17 Aug 2020 Source: T.T. Caternor

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is coming under intense pressure from anti-graft bodies and a section of the public demanding full disclosure of actions taken after investigations into the botched fraud involving the concessionaire agreement that handed over assets of the Electricity Company of Ghana, ECG to the Power Distribution Services (PDS).

The development follows the loud silence, a year on after President Nana Akufo Addo’s own pledge in the wake of public outcry following revelations in leaked documents, which was further fuelled by conflicting statements from government officials, which fuelled suspicions about high profile involvement.

This was after an alleged telephone conversation involving the President’s nephew, Gabby Otchere-Darko who some describe as Ghana’s de facto Prime Minister, Philip Ayensu who was a board member of PDS and blood brother Edward Akufo-Addo, also known as Bumpty, on the shareholding structure, went viral.

Days after the public began scrutinizing the transactions, the President left the country to Angola, where critics suspected it was a planned trip to engage other actors involved for a possible cover-up.

Addressing the Ghanaian community in Angola, precisely on Thursday, August 8, 2019, President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo, admitted the scam and assured the public of transparency.

“It turned out that there are problems with this guarantee.

Subsequently, we discovered that some of the financial instruments put in place were not in order…and we decided that the first thing to do was to protect the public assets by suspending the agreement and returning ECG’s assets whilst a process of investigation was being carried out.”

He assured …..“They (referring to the Ghanaian delegation) had met them (Al Koot Insurance and Reinsurance). They are on their way back. By the time I get back to Accra tomorrow (Friday), we will know exactly where we are.”

One year down the line, government has been silent on what critics describe as the biggest corruption scandal in Ghana’s history.

The public concern follows revelations that over GHS1.5 billion paid to the defunct PDS in the form of electricity bills from March 1st, 2019 to October 18th, 2019 when the concession agreement was in force, cannot be accounted for.

It is also public knowledge that PDS used part of this amount, about US$11.25 million to finance the Insurance Guarantee from the Qatar-based Reinsurance company, Alkoot, which was later found to be fraudulent and invalid.

Besides the criminal implications of the well-planned attempt to shortchange the state, Ghana also lost a colossal sum occasioning the abrupt termination of the whole MCC Ghana Power Compact by the US government, which subsequently withdrew the second tranche of US$190 million (equivalent to GH10 billion).

Earlier attempts by a high powered government delegation, led by Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, Foreign Affairs Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, Deputy Attorney General Godfred Dame, Energy Minister John Peter Amewu and others) who flew to Washington DC for a closed-door meeting at the State Department, had failed.

Big Names

Insiders say, the US government which was privy to the scam and had a delegation led by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi not been in Ghana to send a strong signal, the issue would have been swept under the carpet.

Some of these personalities are not official government appointees. But public interest in their complicity stems from alleged leaked documents.

One was screenshots of text messages from a page dubbed, “Thriller in Manila” where the discussion centres on the need for a Special Purpose Vessel, SPV, role of the Philippines, the President, Nana Akufo Addo’s interest in securing 51% shares, transparency in drafting the shareholder’s arrangement with Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) which was part of, to take over the Electricity Co. of Ghana (ECG).

Pursuant to these scandalous amendments by the Vice President Dr Bawumia, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, and the Eson Benjamin-led MIDA, PDS subsequently provided an Insurance Guarantee with dubious validity to ECG, as same was described as fraudulent by Alkoot, the Qatar-based Reinsurance company which purportedly issued the said Insurance guarantee.

Other kingpins including Energy Minister, John Peter Amewu, cronies of the President such as Mr Philip Ayensu, an appointee of President Akufo Addo on the NCA Board, who was the Chairman of PDS Board, Directors of the local partners in the company, including MP for Sekondi, Lawyer Agyapa Mercer, voiced on the leaked tape purported to be those of Gabby Otchere-Darko, who is Nana Akufo Addo’s nephew, and the President’s blood brother Edward Akufo-Addo, also known as Bumpty.

Government’s reluctance to publicly name those who caused Ghana the international embarrassment since the US government announced its decision to pull out of the project is fuelling further suspicion amidst the conclusion that Nana Akufo Addo himself is deeply involved.

Meralco was part of the consortium called PDS Ghana Ltd., which had been awarded a 20-year concession to take over the operation and management of ECG. It used to have a 30-percent stake in the consortium before the termination.

PDS is a consortium between Meralco through Meridian Power Ventures Ltd., AEnergia SA, an Angolan company, and three Ghanaian firms—TG Energy Solutions Ghana Ltd., Santa Power Ltd. and GTS Power Ltd.

Pursuant to these scandalous amendments by the Vice President Dr. Bawumia, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, and the Eson Benjamin-led MIDA, PDS subsequently provided an Insurance Guarantee with dubious validity to ECG, as same was described as fraudulent by Alkoot, the Qatar-based Reinsurance company which purportedly issued the said Insurance guarantee.

Again the FTI investigative report commissioned by MIDA at the instance of the US government, found that PDS could not even raise the needed funds from equity contributions of shareholders to pay for the so-called Insurance Guarantee it claims to have secured from Alkoot such that, out of the $12.25 million that was charged by Cal Bank to PDS as fees for raising the “fraudulent” Guarantee, only $1 million (8%) was funded by an equity contribution by a PDS shareholder, Philip Ayensu of TG Energy Solutions; $7 million (57%) was funded by a loan that was advanced by Cal Bank to another PDS shareholder, Santa Baron.

However, this loan was repaid from operating cash flows, i.e electricity bills collected by PDS after the transfer date. The balance of $4.25 million (35%) was also paid directly from operating cash flows generated by PDS after the transfer date.

In all, experts estimate that Ghana has lost about US$1.8 billion as result of which the largest opposition party, NDC describes as greed and avarice of President Akufo-Addo and his corrupt family and friends cabal, who sought to appropriate the GH¢ 20 billion assets of ECG for themselves.

Columnist: T.T. Caternor
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