The Director General of the Ghana Maritime Authority has admitted to owning the hotel where some ¢135,000 was spent on staff for an end-of-year dinner in December 2017.
Mr Kwame Owusu told journalists at a press conference in Accra on Tuesday that he has never denied owning the hotel as reports suggest and the appropriate procedures were followed in the award of the contract to the hotel.
“The Director-General [himself] has not refuted the allegation that he owns Luxe Suites Hotel so when I see some of you going to the hotel, taking pictures and putting them on social media, it is another journalistic mischief.”
He said although ¢135,000 was spent on food during the party, the claims that there were only 100 people present is inaccurate.
“It is true. There was a ¢135,000 on food for 500 people. It is in management records but some people have gone out to say that there were only 100 people. We have 200 workers and we had met and estimated that at least there will be a partner, child, girlfriend or wife that will make it 400.”
He continued, “we took into consideration the invitations of various stakeholders, ministers of state, ministries, MPs parliamentary select committee and other stakeholders, so we budgeted for additional 100.”
He further stated that the total amount also included the cost of music and DJ as well as fees for decoration and that “the Authority was so excited because since its inception, this was the only time they had an end-of-year party. So you can imagine the excitement.”
The Transport Ministry has ordered the Board of the Authority to investigate the CEO after the allegations made by popular musician A Plus came to light on Monday.
A Plus in his post on Facebook also alleged that on a different occasion, another request was made by the Director, Administration, for some ¢10,652 to be paid to same Luxe Suites Hotel as payment for food and drinks for eight people at a meeting.
Mr Owusu admits to spending the said amount but said he fed far more than eight people.
He said official documents on the payment states “cost of food supplied to the authority during the management meetings and stakeholders meetings on maritime security fees and charges at the head office.
“I think any academician would know that it cannot be eight participants,” he added.
He said details of every payment are available at the Authority and anyone willing to know more can request and see for themselves that every money spent is properly accounted for.
Mr Owusu said he will sue A Plus who he accuses of originating all the allegations against him.
He produced, during the press conference, a detailed WhatsApp conversation that he alleges was between him and A Plus who he claimed attempted to extort money from him.
“My lawyers are preparing documents so that we can bring a charge against Mr A Plus.”
But A Plus denies having any conversation with Mr Owusu.
“I don’t know him, I don’t have his number and I have not said anything about him,” he told Joy News’ Evans Mensah on Top Story.
A Plus says he was only dealing with the issues and does not know the individuals involved.
On the threats of a suit, A Plus appears unmoved. He said Mr Owusu will not be the first person to sue him and his suit, like the others, will yield no meaningful results.
“He should go and sue. What is stopping him,” he queried.
Meanwhile, anti-graft body, Ghana Integrity Initiative wants an independent body to investigate Mr Owusu.
Executive Director, Linda Ofori Kwafo said asking the Board to investigate the Director-General is wrong.
“It is quite interesting that the Ministry has asked the board to investigate the matter because the man is saying that the board approved and if the board approved, to an extent you can say the board ratified his actions so then why do you ask the same board to investigate the matter.”
She is convinced that if proper investigations are conducted, there is the likelihood that it will be found that Mr Owusu’s personal interest might have overridden the Authority’s interest.