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AG’s defence of AMERI-sponsored trip disappointing – Ato Forson

Cassiel Ato Forson
Cassiel Ato Forson

The Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson, has described as disappointing, the Attorney General’s response to the issues of conflict of interest against the Addison Committee’s probe of the AMERI deal.

Gloria Akuffo in an interview with Citi News, revealed that, AMERI offered to pay for the trip because they could not be in Ghana to answer questions from the committee; a move she described as sensible, since it saved the country additional cost.

Gloria Akuffo

But Cassiel Ato Forson said the defence is feeble, and cannot absolve the committee of wrongdoing.

“Inasmuch as it is considered that she does not have all the facts, she gave a caveat cleverly saying that she is not aware they were served, so based on that, she cannot conclude and provide an opinion, and I am putting to it to her that clearly the Ameri matter is a complete conflict of interest” he stated.

“How can a Ministerial Committee which is a public body tasked to investigate a deal that you claim there was a wrong doing, accept gifts and hospitality? To the extent that it was material and they failed to make the public aware, that is my concern. Are you telling me a public body should accept gifts and hospitality from the very person that you are going to investigate, and the Attorney General says she sees nothing wrong with it.?”

Nothing nefarious at play

The Minority in Parliament had ridden on the details of the AMERI-funded trip to Dubai, to allege malfeasance on the part of the Philip Addison-led committee, and has further said it will be petitioning the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).

But Madam Akuffo said, in her view, there was no ill-intent on the part of the committee or AMERI.

“My understanding was that, it was a matter of engaging with a view of coming to some amicable resolution of the observations the committee had made in studying documents. It is not as though you have a policeman trying to catch a robber then the robber suddenly feeds him. I do not see it as that,” she explained.

Reason for the committee

The 17-member committee was constituted on grounds of a $150 million anomaly in the AMERI deal, as well other financial, technical and legal issues, and recommended that AMERI be made to re-negotiate the deal or be rejected by Government on grounds of fraud.

Ghana was made to pay $150 million extra in commission to Africa & Middle East Resources Investment (AMERI) Group LLC for the construction of a power plant. The committee maintains that AMERI in its agreement with government dated February 10th, 2015, charged Ghana significantly higher than what it was charged by the Turkish registered company, PPR, which financed and executed the project.

The Turkish firm pegged the total cost of the project, which is to span over a 5-year period at a maximum of 360 million dollars. However, the Build Operate Own Transfer (BOOT) agreement signed between government and AMERI was pegged at a minimum of 510 million dollars.

By: Marian Ansah/citifmonline.com/Ghana