General News of Friday, 25 September 2009
A landmark ruling in the UK has named several Ghanaian politicians as having once received bribes from a British construction firm Mabey & Johnson in the 1980s and the 1990s.
The company pleaded guilty at the Southwark Crown Court in London, Friday, to charges of corruption and violating sanctions, paying Ghanaian government officials a total of £470,000 in bribes.
Kingpins of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government including Dr Sipa Yankey, Mr Kwame Peprah and Dr Ato Quarshie were mentioned as having received bribes from the company.
Dr Ato Quarshie who is a former Works and Housing Minister is said to have taken a cheque for £55,000 in 1995 whilst Health Minister Dr Sipa Yankey reportedly received a total of £10,500, lawyers for Mabey & Johnson said in court.
Other persons including one Mohammed Seidu took £5,000; Edward Attipoe received £10,000; and Alhaji Sidique Boniface allegedly picked some £500 for school fees.
The company is said to have lobbied the government officials then through one Kwame Ofori whose influence had waned as at 1996.
The lobbyist was reportedly replaced by the then Treasurer of the ruling party with Baba Kamara, who was then thought to be very tactful and could influence tough persons such as Dr Obed Asamoah and Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, both of whom held key positions.
However, Joy News’ correspondent Kobby Graham who sat through proceedings on Friday said the payouts “were not directly related to contracts and projects” executed by Mabey & Johnson.
The UK-based company is said to have executed three contracts, – totaling £26 million – two priority bridges and a bridge along a feeder road. The exact locations of the bridges were not mentioned.
British state attorneys say Mabey & Johnson could be fined more than £2 million.
The case is the first time a UK company has admitted in court that it was involved in overseas corruption and the breach of UN sanctions.
Friday’s hearing is be the first time the facts of the case have been heard in court, Christopher Hope of the Telegraph reported.
The company has so far agreed to make reparations to Ghana as well as the government of Jamaica which the company allegedly tried to influence to be able to secure public contracts in the 1990s.