Day 20 of the sittings of the Justice Dzamefe Commission revealed that a Brazilian agency was paid almost $20,000 in commissions by the Ghana 2014 World Cup Planning Committee for giving directions to a Brazilian supermarket where ingredients could be bought for cooking meals for supporters during the World Cup.
This information emerged from the testimony given and documents tendered in by Larry Acheampong, Project Facilitator of the Ghana 2014 World Cup Planning Committee.
Mr. Acheampong told the Commission that the agency named Alcontinental were paid these commissions because they provided some services ( including five trips to the supermarket to buy the foodstuffs) to the Commission when they were hamstrung.
Here is a transcription of the interaction between Justice Dzamefe and Larry Acheampong concerning the agency’s payments:
Justice Dzamefe: “Mr. Larry Acheampong, what we are asking is that we see an amount called commission – $4,130.00- which is ten percent of the cost of the items bought. Who got that commission and why?”
Larry Acheampong: “My Lord, it was the agent. It was the agency that helped us with all these arrangements.”
Justice Dzamefe: “What arrangements? You told us the agent showed you the shop, is that not it? The agency showed you the shop. The pre-World Cup group went to Brazil and this agency that you said you engaged showed you that there was a supermarket called Regamais and you could buy things from there. The agent did what….?”
Larry Acheampong: “They helped us with the arrangements. They knew of the difficulties they were having. They knew we did not have cash so they stood in for us. They did all the negotiations for us with the supermarket.”
Justice Dzamefe: “So that was why you paid them ten percent commission for whatever items you bought? But as a hint, if you add up all their commissions for the five times that you went to the shop (Regamais), you will arrive at $ 19,831.00.
That is almost $20,000 for somebody showing you a shop. If you paid commissions for the first trip because you were new there, that would be ok because he took your hands and led you there but not for the subsequent trips. Why do you still have to pay commissions?”
It was also established that the agents played a role in buying foodstuffs for the caterers.
The purchase of the food stuffs confirms the testimonies given by the caterers employed to cook for the fans that they were not involved in the purchase of foodstuffs.
It also emerged that Mr. Acheampong’s work with the committee was not backed by any official letter of appointment even though he had been brought to work with the committee by the former Sports Minister Elvis Afriyie Ankrah.
He revealed that he did not have a specific role but he worked with all the committees at one point or the next.
Camp commander of the Ghana contingent, Agbesi Nutsu, was also at the Commission to give his testimony on matters that concerned the supporters and how they fared at their quarters in Brazil.
He debunked stories that were in the local media that supporters who went to cheer on the Black Stars were forced to live under deplorable conditions are untrue.
He did however admit that there were a number of isolated incidents that had to be dealt with as a result of bad weather conditions.
“Everything was put in place. We had cleaners who cleaned the rooms everyday and so, I was so amazed when somebody forwarded something to my platform that the rooms are so rough and that we had leakages and other issues with the place.
My Lord, it was only in one room but as I said so earlier so it is shameful for somebody to just lie on their bed,take a picture and send back home as if that was the real condition in the camp.
My Lord, we had three days of heavy downpour and if we should have such rains down here (the Media Centre of the Accra Sports Stadium where the sittings are currently taking place), I am sure there will be leakages,”he told the commission.
He further went on to debunk claims that the supporters were unhappy with the quality and the quantity of food that was served as suggested by the Proprietress of Amber Quality Foods Limited.
“My Lord, nobody ever complained to me about the quality of food or the quantity and my room was in a strategic position so I saw all that transpired at a point I had to prevent some of them from sending food to their rooms,”he said.”
In his concluding statement, Agbesi Nutsu said the state could have saved money on accommodation since there were other options for the team camp that were closer to the match venues than where they had stayed. That necessitated transportation expenses for the state.
“My Lord, if I had the power, I would have gone for the one in town because we would have cut down costs and we could have used the savings to bring in more supporters and do other things for them.”
The Commission resumes sitting on Tuesday 16th September and the Ghana National Petroleum Company, headline sponsors of the Black Stars, is expected to appear to answer questions from the Commissioners.
By: Nathan Quao & Benjamin Nketsia/citifmonline.com/Ghana