Chairman of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee [PIAC], Dr. Steve Manteaw, strongly believes the claims of fraud levelled against the Power Distribution Services (PDS) which culminated in the decision by government to abrogate the concessionaire deal between the two were trumped-up.
Even though the deal has been officially terminated by government, the PIAC boss is of a view that "because of tsobo", fraud allegations were instituted by government to form the basis to terminate the concession deal to allow some individuals in government benefit from the concession.
Engagement and suspension
PDS was engaged in March 2019 by government to take over the distribution of power from Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), but in July this year, the company was found to have presented invalid insurance security for the takeover of ECG assets. Thus barely six months after taking over ECG's role, the company was suspended after suspicions by government that the agreement was tainted with fraud.
On Tuesday, July 3O, Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, disclosed that the "decision follows the detection of fraudulent and material breaches of PDS obligation in the provision of Payment Securities (Demand Guarantees) for the transaction which have been discovered upon further diligence".
Cleared of fraud
The transaction advisor, US-backed Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) - the supervising agency of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact - hired the services of an independent investigator, FIT Consulting, to conduct forensic audit over the alleged fraudulent guarantee documents submitted by PDS.
FIT Consulting, on Tuesday, September 3, submitted its findings which cleared PDS of fraud to MiDA.
Subtle moves to restructure shareholding partners
Despite the clearance, Peacefmonline.com can confirm that PDS remained suspended, with government making moves to take out PDS and restructure. Peacefmonline.com stumbled upon a letter written by the Finance Minister to a private legal practitioner from Akufo-Addo Chambers, Akoto Ampaw, to restructure the shareholding of the Ghanaian partners.
Reinstate PDS in 10 days
It appears the US government might have gotten wind of the subtle moves by government to restructure the shareholding partners and was clearly not enthused.
Through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), it issued a letter requesting the Government of Ghana to lift the suspension of the LAA, BSA and GSA, and cause the Energy Commission to also lift the Retail Supply License of PDS. It further warned that government risks losing the second tranche allotment of $190m of the Compact II, if it fails to reinstate the PDS concession by October 20.
But in a letter signed by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, which went viral over the weekend, government announced plans to terminate the deal, adding that a restrictive tender process will be used in selecting a new concessionaire by December 31, 2019.
Commenting on the issue, Dr. Steve Manteaw cautioned the government saying the decision if care is not taken will affect Ghana's developmental dealings with the US.
“Because of Tsobo [deceitful means to extort money] everything is in mess,” he said in an interview with NEAT FM’s morning show ‘Ghana Montie’.