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General News of Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Source: NEW CRUSADING GUIDE

P.V. Obeng Has No Proof Of Payment

…For Alleged Purchase Of ‘Ogbojo House’ Probed By CHRAJ 15 Years Ago And Deed Of Assignment Still Being Processed At Lands Commission!



Persistent requests/attempts by The New Crusading GUIDE to get Mr. P.V. Obeng, former Presidential Advisor on Governmental Affairs in NDC One Administration (1993-1997) and currently the Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), to provide documentary evidence of how much he paid for a house he allegedly bought back from the late Renato Noce in 2006, have proved futile!

“WE REGRET TO INFORM YOU THAT WE CANNOT PROVIDE YOU WITH EVIDENCE OF PROOF OF PAYMENT ON BEHALF OF OUR CLIENT SINCE AS YOU ARE AWARE THIS WAS A PRIVATE TRANSACTION BETWEEN OUR CLIENT AND THE DECEASED VENDOR AND ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY PAID BY OUR CLIENT IS DEEMED TO BE PRIVILEGED FROM DISCLOSURE AT THIS STAGE”, articulated Mr. Obeng’s Solicitors, Oseawuo Chambers & Co. in a December 9, 2010 email to The New Crusading GUIDE.

Mr. Obeng’s Solicitors continued: “Please do no construe this stance to mean that our client did not provide any consideration for the acquisition of the said house since the deed of assignment which constitutes the final terms of the sale of the said house contains the purchase price save that the said deed is currently being processed at the Lands Commission”.

The above response contained in the December 9, 2010 email under reference, followed yet another reminder from The New Crusading GUIDE to Mr. Obeng’s Solicitors drawing the latter’s attention to the fact that the paper’s numerous requests for ‘evidence of proof of payment’ for the purported purchase of House Number MIC37/1 situated at Ogbojo in the Tema District of the Greater Accra Region which belonged to the late Renato Noce of Michelleti & Company fame, had failed to elicit the appropriate response from them (Mr. Obeng’s Solicitors).

“The Editorial Team however, upon analyzing our correspondence which has spanned almost a month, without any proof of payment forthcoming, have come to the conclusion that, your good office is either UNABLE, UNWILLING OR BOTH, to show us the proof of payment”, underscored The New Crusading GUIDE in the email dated December 9, 2010.

The New Crusading GUIDE’s December 9, 2010 email reminded Mr. Obeng’s Solicitors that “before our correspondence with you, Mr. Obeng had already been asked to provide the evidence to us per our letter dated 5th November, 2010 which he obliged to give per a text message he sent to me (Gordon Asare-Bediako)”.

On November 11, 2010, Mr. Obeng’s Solicitors wrote to this paper indicating that “…we have been instructed by our client, Paul Victor Obeng, the subject of your said publication (of November 8, 2010), to represent his interest in the matter. As a result we shall be grateful if all correspondence including any enquiries could be directed to us rather than through our client”.

They hoped that The New Crusading GUIDE “will comply with our request to enable this issue be brought to a satisfactory end”.

The New Crusading GUIDE promptly replied via an email dated November 12, 2010, expressing its willingness to correspond with Mr. Obeng’s Solicitors instead of their Client, Mr. P.V. Obeng, as they (Obeng’s Solicitors) had requested in their November 11, 2010 letter.

“We therefore would be very grateful if you could provide us with any form of proof (cheque, handwritten note, receipt, etc.) of payment for the purchase of the house by your client”, an email authored by this reporter on behalf of the paper, indicated to Mr. Obeng’s Solicitors.

It was made clear to Mr. Obeng’s Solicitors that “the request is very important because the answer would enrich our story as we seek to educate our cherished readers through well researched, accurate and a balanced reportage”.

“We acknowledge receipt of your email on the above subject and will revert in due course. Rgds”, responded Mr. Obeng’s Solicitors to November 12, 2010 email.

Yet another reminder titled: “Re: Request For Proof Of Payment” dated November 17, 2010 was met with a similar, simple and short response thus: “Many thanks for your letter of 17th instant. Will revert shortly”.

The said reminder had alerted Mr. Obeng’s Solicitors about the nature of our profession to the effect that “we work within a time limit in order to sustain the interest of our esteemed readers, not forgetting the importance of accuracy, fairness, well researched and a balanced reportage”, and noted that “we therefore would be grateful if you could attend to our request in the shortest possible time so that the story could be brought to a conclusive end”.

As indicated in our Monday, November 22, 2010 edition, similar enquiries directed at Mr. Roberto Noce, son of the late Renato Noce, in whose name the father registered the house, and who, according to Nicholas, the alleged agent for Renato Noce, had signed a letter of consent to approve the transaction in 2006, have all failed to produce results.

Mr. Roberto Noce has not responded to any of our email enquiries to him. And nobody has also been able to trace the whereabouts of the alleged letter of consent given by Mr. Roberto Noce.

An intriguing aspect of Mr. Obeng’s Solicitors’ latest correspondence (the December 9, 2010 email) is their assertion that “the deed of assignment which constitutes the final terms of the sale of the said house contains the purchase price save that the said deed is currently being processed at the Lands Commission”.

Intriguing because as reported in our November 8, 2010 story on Mr. Obeng’s alleged purchase of the late Renato Noce’s ‘Ogbojo House’, Mr. Obeng instructed one Nicholas, a ‘Land Documentation Agent’ who was present during an interview this reporter was conducting with Mr. Obeng in the latter’s NDPC office in Accra, to provide The New Crusading GUIDE with all the relevant documentation on the ownership of the said house.

Nicholas, as we reported, subsequently produced two (2) documents; an Indenture of Lease dated February 16, 1993 between Mary Ann Obeng Dufie (“Lessor”) and Roberto Noce (“Lessee”) and an Indenture of Assignment dated March 15, 2006 between Roberto Noce being represented by his authorised representative, Renato Noce (“The Assignor”) and PAROS LTD. acting per its Director, Nana Kwaku Agyapong (“The Assignee”).

The Indenture of Assignment given to The New Crusading GUIDE by Nicholas upon the explicit instructions of Mr. Obeng, WAS/IS COMPLETELY SILENT ON THE SUM OR AMOUNT OF MONEY PAID OR CONSIDERATION FOR THE ACQUISITION OF THE LATE RENATO NOCE’S HOUSE BY MR. P.V. OBENG.

Nicholas also said he was not aware of Nana Kwaku Agyapong, a Director of PAROS LTD. As indicated in the March 15, 2006 Indenture of Assignment even though the said Nana Kwaku Agyapong purportedly signed the Indenture on behalf of PAROS LTD. Interestingly, the space of for the signature of the Assignment was/is blank on the document (Indenture of Assignment) Nicholas gave to this reporter. He (Nicholas) advised that the question about the identity or whereabouts of Nana Kwaku Agyapong should be directed at Mr. P.V. Obeng. (See page 2 for confirmation).

One Cecil Dontor of P.O. Box 234, Tema, however swore an oath on March 22, 2006 to the effect that he was present on the day of 16th March, 2006 and saw Renato Noce, authorised representative of Roberto Noce, sign the Indenture of Assignment on behalf of the latter to seal the deal.

On the same day of March 22, 2006 via a Certificate of Proof an instrument was laid before a Deputy Chief Registrar of the High Court to indicate that the transaction had “been duly executed by the within named RENATO NOCE, authorised representative of ROBERTO NOCE”.

Although the Indenture of Assignment is dated March 15, 2006, Nicholas said Emmanuela Noce, a daughter of Renato Noce in 2009, 3 years after the death of her father, asked him (Nicholas) about the status of the property to which he answered it (house) belonged to Roberto Noce.

“At that time I did not know the property had been sold”, he told this reporter. And yet three (3) years before the demise of Renato Noce, the same Nicholas, according to his own account, had been asked by “two longtime intimate friends” (Renato Noce and P.V. Obeng) to “facilitate the documentation” on the transaction which was sealed in March 2006.

The mystery surrounding Nicholas’ purported role in the documentation of the transaction deepened when he called this reporter on Monday, 8th November, 2010 on phone to complain about portions of the story this paper had carried on that same day about the transaction.

Contrary to Mr. Obeng’s introduction of him as ‘Agent for Renato Noce’ which he hadn’t protested against, Nicholas stated that he (Nicholas) was not the ‘Agent for Renato Noce’ before the 2006 Agreement between Mr. Obeng and Mr. Noce was reached on the purported sale of the ‘Ogbojo House’. He insisted that it was only after the death of Renato Noce in 2009 that P.V. Obeng invited him (Nicholas) to “facilitate the documentation” on the house.

Come December 9, 2010, Mr. Obeng’s Solicitors now say they regret to inform us that “we cannot provide you with evidence of proof of payment on behalf of our client since as you are aware this was a private transaction between our client and the deceased vendor” and that “any amount of money paid by our client is deemed to be privileged from disclosure at this stage”.

They (Obeng’s Solicitors) also contend that whatever consideration their client (Mr. Obeng) provided for the acquisition of the ‘Ogbojo House’ is contained in the deed of assignment which constitutes the final terms of the sale and which according to them, is currently being processed at the Lands Commission”. They assure that the purchase price for the said house is contained in the deed of assignment being processed at the Lands Commission.

As indicated in our November 8, 2010 story, our investigations into this transaction were triggered by information received from concerned sections of the family of Mr. Renato Noce who died interstate on February 12, 2009, to the effect that Mr. Obeng was claiming ownership of the late Noce’s ‘Ogbojo House’, something which they (concerned sections of the Noce family) considered unfair and insensitive.

The concerned Noce family sources had also expressed surprise that Mr. Obeng appeared to be dealing with Texas-based Roberto Noce and his sister, Emmanuela while ignoring the fact that the late Renato Noce had other children including Alberto Noretti, a journalist and the EU Correspondent for the State-owned Daily Graphic.

They explained that even though the ‘Ogbojo House’ had been registered under the name of Roberto Noce”, “under Italian laws all the children have equal rights in respect of what their father left behind and so nobody can deal with only one child and hope to achieve sustainable and legitimate results/outcome”.

House No: MIC37/1 which is the subject-matter of our investigation was one of the four single storey houses situate at Ogbojo opposite the Local Government Training Institute at Madina, which became the object of enquiry by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in 1995 and 1996 following a series of publications by the Ghanaian Chronicle and The Free Press alleging corruption and illegal acquisition of property against Mr. P.V. Obeng, then Presidential Advisor on Governmental Affairs.

Both Mr. Obeng and Renato Noce appeared before the Commission. While Mr. Obeng told the Commission that the plot on which the house stood was originally his but he had sold it in February 1993 to Mr. Roberto Noce whom he said was acting through his father, Renato Noce, the latter tendered in evidence an Indenture dated February 16, 1993 and a copy of a Leasehold Agreement executed in his favour by Mary Dufie (PV Obeng’s daughter), to confirm his ownership of the house under reference.

The Commission, after its examination of evidence of acts of ownership over the property exercised by Renato Noce, RULED THAT THE PROPERTY IN QUESTION WAS INDEED LEGITIMATELY OWNED BY RENATO NOCE, AND NOT PV OBENG, AND THUS CLEARED MR. OBENG OF ALL THE ALLEGATIONS OF ILLEGAL ACQUISITION OF PROPERTY AND CORRUPTION MADE AGAINST HIM BY THE MEDIA.

As recalled in our November 8, 2010 edition the Commission, in the face of the weight of evidence examined, made the following findings in respect of the four (4) storey houses situate as Ogbojo.

Here we go again: *(1): “The four (4) storey buildings at Ogbojo are the property of Mr. Renato Noce, Managing Director of Michelleti Company Limited. The evidence was clear that Mr. Obeng granted a 50 year lease of the land to Mr. Noce in 1993. An indenture evidencing the transaction dated 16th February, 1993 was accordingly signed. The execution formalities were concluded on 23rd February 1993 with a Certificate of Proof signed by the Deputy Chief Registrar of the High Court, Koforidua. The Commission finds no evidence either direct or indirect which suggests that the buildings were put up by Mr. P.V. Obeng. Apart from the indenture, Mr. Noce has exercised such acts of ownership that leaves no doubt that he is the lawful owner of the property.

*(2): “The Commission also accepts Mr. Noce’s explanation that he was compelled to use Mr. Obeng’s documents on the land to apply for building permit because his (Noce’s) documents had not been registered. This explanation is accepted as plausible because construction work started soon after the lease agreement, and considering the time it takes to register documents on land, Mr. Noce would have had to wait for several months, if not years to start the project.

*(3): “The Commission also found that because Mr. Noce had to use Mr. Obeng’s document for an early take-off of the project, the name on that document, i.e. Mary Ann Dufie, also had to be used in applying for utility supplies such as electricity and water. This explains why that name appeared on utility bills. As a matter of fact, the bills were actually issued in the joint names of Mary Ann Dufie and Michelleti & Co. Despite the fact the bills bore the two names, the fact was established that those bills were incurred and paid for by Mr. Noce.

*(4): “The Commission also found no evidence to support the suggestion that Mr. Noce put up those buildings as a gift to Mr. Obeng in appreciation of a favour done him. As a matter of fact, the Commission’s attention was not brought to Mr. Noce having received any form of assistance from Mr. Obeng for which he was obliged to give property worth ¢300 million in gratitude”. (Source: “CHRAJ Report In The Matter Of Investigation Into Allegation Of Illegal Acquisition Of Properties – Mr. Paul Victor Obeng – 1995/96” – Pages 22 & 23).
Please stay tuned for a dramatic turn of events as far as this story is concerned.

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