Politics

CID questions ex-minister over ‘dubious deal’

Ex-Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei was yesterday invited by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service and subjected to rigorous interrogations in respect of his alleged involvement in the bizarre sale of government’s interest in Ghana Oil Palm Development Company (GOPDC).

According to an investigative report seen by The Enquirer, Akoto Osei led the sale of government’s 20% interest in GOPDC at a residual price of US$2,315,946 even though the shares had been valued at$18,083,802.

Worse still, the report revealed that, in the middle of efforts to offload the shares of government, one Mr. Albert Osei, said to be a brother of the minister, was tactically appointed as the country director of “SIAT s.a., with authority to negotiate with the minister, his brother, for the acquisition of GOG’s 20% shares in GOPDC.”

Insiders familiar with the workings of the investigators hinted The Enquirer that aside all the under valuation of the company, “Dr. Akoto Osei should have excused himself as the minister with the assumed direct responsibility of overseeing the divestiture of GOG’s 20% share in GOPDC, when his brother Albert Osei was appointed Resident Representative of SIAT s.a. and Director of GOPDC and SIAT Ghana Ltd. with a responsibility to negotiate for the sale of GOG’s 20% shares in GOPDC.”

“With such irresponsible behavior, Dr. Akoto Osei must be held responsible for the loss incurred by the state in not selling 20% shares for US$18,083,802 but instead settling for a residual value of US$2,315,946. He must be held culpable,” the report said.

Enquirer sources say the ex-Finance Minister was evasive during interrogations yesterday and has been booked to re-appear before the CID on Thursday.

The report has also recommended that the indecent haste with which government’s 20% shares in GOPDC was sold in December of 2008 “must be annulled” and a new and a more transparent sale procedure set in motion.

The promoters of SIAT s.a., especially one Pierre Vandebeeck, who is blamed to have set in motion to corrupt the system, is also recommended to be charged for fraudulently orchestrating the bizarre sale of GOPDC.

“Pierre Vandebeeck must be charged under Section 1, 2 and 5 of the Public Property Protection Act of 1977 (SMCD 140)” for causing the Ghana government to lose “US$13,364,779 which represent the fraudulently suppressed value of the GOG’s 20% share”

Even though GIMPA Consultancy Services had been engaged to value the shares of GOPDC, the Board of Directors of the company objected to their use and at a meeting on July 28, 2004 resolved to invite new entrants to put in proposals to undertake the valuation exercise.

The Acting Executive, Secretary of DIC, on October 30, 2006 terminated the appointment of GIMPA Consultancy and invited selected consultants to submit their proposals to undertake the exercise to value the GOPDC shares.

It was around this time that Mr. Albert Osei, the minister’s brother, was appointed member of the Board of Directors of GOPDC.

Notwithstanding, concerns, raised by a Mr. Walter Awuku of the DIC in an internal memo to the DIC boss, pointing out that a proposal submitted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) did not meet the terms of reference that invited the proposals in the first place; GOPDC awarded them the consultancy on January 4, 2007.

Again, whereas GIMPA’s scope of work had involved a complete due diligence, for which it was paid US$65,000.00, PWC, for its limited scope asked for a fee of ¢1,172,455,000 (US$126,687) which it was paid.

Amidst protests by the Chief Director of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Nana Juaben Boateng Siriboe and the Acting Executive Secretary of the DIC, Mr. J.K.A. Wiredu, whose outfit is the statutory body mandated to undertake the exercise, PWC undertook the valuation exercise in a limited scope, thereby not giving the government shares its real value before the purported sale to
GOPDC.

By a letter dated October 23, 2008 Dr. Akoto Osei had informed the Executive Director of the DIC that “After negotiations, SIAT (Gh) has indicated that it will accept GOG’s offer ofGHC5.0 million for its 20% shareholding,” and that “The Government has however, decided its shareholding in GOPDC should be offered to SIAT (Gh) Ltd for GH¢5.5 million.”

It is not clear yet where the value of GH¢5.5 million cited by Dr. Akoto Osei for the 20% government shares was arrived at or whether it was approved.

However, from the trend of turnover and assets of the company over the four-year preceding the sale of the 20% shares to SIAT (Ghana), it has emerged that the state did not get value for its 20% shares.

Source: The Enquirer

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