Minority spokesperson on foreign affairs Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has alleged, the government has bought at an inflated $12m, a property in Norway to be used as an embassy.
He says the cost inflated claiming only a year ago, the property was bought for $3.5million. He presented documents on the floor of Parliament to back his claims of malfeasance at the Foreign Affairs ministry.
But the Speaker of Parliament Prof. Mike Oquaye rejected his evidence ruling they were unreliable.
The Foreign Affairs minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway in a heated response outside the floor of Parliament has said an offer for the purchase of the building was made but it has not been accepted.
The MP has published a summary of his allegations reproduced below.
Oslo Chancery Building
Summary of Facts:
Address: Sigyns gate 3, 0260, Oslo. Land Number: 215, Title Number: 522 Built in 1918 (100 year old property)
A 6 bedroom residence being converted into a Chancery for Ghana’s new Mission in Norway
Contractors on site as recent as last week Thursday 13th December, 2018 carrying out renovations (Video evidence available)
Records show that a previous buyer Lillian Olsson bought the property in 2014 for 25,250,000.00 Norwegian Kroner (NOK) - equivalent to US$2,930,098.38
According to a Norwegian Financial Newspaper known as Finansavisen, Lillian Olsson sold the property in August 2017 to an unknown buyer for NOK 31,000,000.00 – equivalent to US$3,598,108.00
Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration has made presentation to Parliament’s Select Committee on Foreign Affairs that Ghana is purchasing this same building at a staggering NOK 105,180,000 – equivalent to US$12,218,487.13
This latest purchase price by our Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration appears to inflate the cost of the property by a whopping US$8,620,379.13.
The US$8,620,379.13 inflated figure by current exchange rate works out to some GHS 41,771,340.13.
The new purchase price has been described as “UNETHICAL” by Real Estate Brokers who have spoken to the Norwegian press on the matter. (Evidence available)
Other associated costs of this purchase presented to Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs have also been grossly inflated. Note for example, our checks in Norway for the cost of Registration of Documents is NOK 525 and not NOK 50,000 as claimed by the Ministry. (A rip off by some NOK 49,475 – equivalent to 5,743.03)
Additional checks in Norway indicate that Structural and Evaluation Reports are not charged separately as that is part of the agency fees. Therefore, the NOK 40,000.00 (US$ 4,645.38) charged after a pricy NOK
2,500,000.00 (US$ 290,519.00) agency fee is another example of how scandalous this whole transaction is.
Another transaction cost found to be strange is the NOK 90,000 legal fees which our contacts in Norway tell us ought not to feature in this transaction. This explains why the second transaction – the purchase of the Ambassador’s Residence has no legal fees in its cost breakdown.
Furthermore, it is most disturbing to note that despite this outrageously inflated transaction; US$16,500,000.00 is the amount brought to Parliament for approval as the total cost for the purchase of the two facilities (that is the Chancery at NOK 105,180,000 and the Ambassador’s Residence at NOK 25,775,000 = NOK 130,955,000 – equivalent to US$15,197,995.62). This means clearly that the total cost for the transaction was also inflated by over US$ 1.3 million.
It is instructive to note that funding for these purchases is the US$50 Million loan facility bequeathed to the current Government by the former Mahama Administration. As per the Foreign Ministry’s own documents to our committee, they are also purchasing a Chancery, Residence and paying for a Relocation Cost in Paris all at US$ 5,256,133.35. In Geneva they are purchasing a Chancery for US$ 3,024,706.00, a Residence in the Vatican for US$2,031,178.32 and a Chancery in Tel Aviv for US$ 4,500,000.00. It is curious that the Oslo transaction is outlandishly higher than all these in cities where properties are considered far more expensive than in Oslo.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance in a document submitted to the Foreign Affairs Committee reveals that on 20th October, 2018, an amount of GHS 15, 337,152.58 was released to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cater for the “Establishment of Diplomatic missions in Oslo, Norway and Consulate-General in Port Louis, Mauritius and Guangzhou, China.