Feature Article of Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Columnist: The True Statesman
*Know your Presidential Candidate: Paa Kwesi Nduom and his dark wardrobe*
Paa Kwesi Nduom, the flagbearer of the Progressive People’s Party in his guise to hold the highest office of the land has been unable to call to mind his many hidden skeletons in his dark wardrobe.
Reconnaissance has proved that Nduom has some accountability issues to settle with the government of Ghana and its people. Apart from causing financial loss to the state, he overtly denied his citizenship as a Ghanaian when the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) previously known as Serious Fraud Office (SFO) embarked on investigations of the activities of State Enterprises Commission (SEC) over issues of corruption and evasion of tax leveled against him.
But out of fear of being caught pants down for his evil deeds, Mr. Nduom wrote to the US embassy in Accra claiming to be a US citizen and appealing for security from the US government. For this reason, the US embassy in a publication said the SFO was an inferior authority so should not be allowed to torment and investigate the activities of US citizens living in Ghana.
The facts are that in 1987, the State Enterprises Commission embarked on a mission of reforming the State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) with the aim of improving their efficiency. This was undertaken by the State Owned Enterprises Reform Project (SOERP). In this regard, the Government of Ghana (GOG), under an agreement, procured a credit facility from International Development Association (IDA) to implement the project. The agreement provided for the engagement of various fields of consultants – financial, management, legal entity including a State Owned Enterprise (SOE) Reform Program advisor and a divestiture advisor with satisfactory qualification and experience. After the termination by SEC of an earlier contract with Price Waterhouse (PW) under the programme, on grounds of unsatisfactory work, an invitation of proposals from interested firms was initiated in October 1989. In response a number of firms/ groups submitted proposals including Paa Kwesi Nduom.
In bidding for the contract, Dr Paa Kwesi Ndoum made representations to the effect that he had been appointed by Deloitte and Touche USA. He introduced a Deloitte and Touche Consultancy (West Africa). The reports indicated that this was the first time they had seen another “Deloitte and Touche” introduced as a consultancy firm. In the circumstances the SFO was confronted with a situation of two entities claiming the title Deloitte and Touche –the existing Deloitte and Touche – Chartered Accountants and Nduom’s. The proposal from the new Deloitte and Touche Consultancy (Dr. Nduom’s) had some interesting features: the proposal was not on letter-headed paper showing its official origin as is usual in business communication; the only indication as to author was mentioned in the last paragraph of “P. Kwesi Nduom” and Aubert Zohore and their telephone numbers for contact purposes; the paper had “DRAFT” imprinted on it; the proposal was not signed.
These notwithstanding, won Dr. Nduom, various contracts with the SEC. To facilitate his dealings under the consultancy, Dr. Nduom manufactured letter heads to give the impression that he was a member of Deloitte and Touche.
When Mr. J.K. Forson, a Director of the existing Deloitte and Touche – Chartered Accountants was contacted by the SFO on the legitimacy of the new Deloitte and Touche, introduced by Dr. Nduom, he made it clear that the only entity which could claim the name Deloitte and Touche in Ghana was his firm and that he was in fact the International Service Coordinator for Deloitte and Touche International.
But in an effort to “legitimize” his claim to Deloitte and Touche and transfer of his earnings abroad, Dr. Nduom stated that he was a Managing Partner of Deloitte and Touche USA in which capacity he was to represent the company and to hold himself out as such representative and to use the name of the company. As a result of such mandate, he was also bound to remit all his earnings to Deloitte and Touche USA. He could however not furnish the committee with any record of such mandate from the US company when requested to do so.
Meanwhile at the instance of Dr. Nduom, State Enterprises Committee illegally transferred a total of one million and forty-six thousand, two hundred and fifty-eight US dollars and eighty-seven cents (US$1,046,287.87) to the USA in favour of the former. Nduom has made various representations to the commission to the effect that he was appointed by US firm of Deloitte and Touche as their representative for which reasons he insisted on his earnings being transferred to his ‘employers’ in the US. It was however found out that although the above amount was paid into an account in the US as instructed by Dr. Nduom, the US firm of Deloitte and Touche never signed a consultancy agreement with the SEC for SOERP in which contract they appointed Dr. Nduom as their representative in Ghana and for which service under the contract they received payments in the United States. His actions were found to be fraudulent: intended to induce Ghanaian Institutions to deal with him with the belief that they were dealing with the International firm of Deloitte and Touche thereby inducing payments to be made to the account he set up in the US in the name of “Deloitte and Touche(West African) Limited.
Another interesting dimension is the fact that although Nduom’s wife Mrs. Yvonne Nduom, a citizen was a Director of Dr Nduom’s Deloite and Touche, the company was not registered at the Ghana Investment Promotions Council (GIPC) as an investment venture. In fact Nduom’s wife declared her nationality as Ghanaian and in the light of the above, the committee was of the opinion that the company could not claim repatriation of profits under the investment law.
There were allegations of conflict of interest leveled against Dr. Nduom as well when he was consultant, specifically while he acted as Executive Director, Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation (PME) Department of the SEC. It was revealed that while Nduom was engaged as an external consultant for the SEC, he was appointed by the then Executive Chairman of the Commission Mr. W.A. Adda as Executive Director of PME department, a position he occupied for two years. This placed Dr. Nduom in a situation where he became a client of his own consultancy services – having to evaluate and accept his own work. This became a source of conflict between Dr. Nduom and the other internal consultants of SEC. Furthermore, by treating Nduom as a ‘foreign consultant’, SEC paid him a total of USD$41,261 as per diem. Meanwhile the provisions in Dr. Nduom’s contract for these benefits were improperly included and were null and void. Evidence also shows that SEC did not have such exclusive monopoly of Dr. Nduom’s time that SEC should pay him per diem and by his position as acting Executive Director of PME Department of the Commission, Dr. Nduom was an insider who knew what specific jobs would require execution and what categories of professionals would be needed.
These are but few of the instances of conflict of interest which were found against Dr. Nduom.
Another serious but interesting instance is the reconstruction of the state newspaper houses and Ghana Publishing Corporation by Dr. Nduom.
In line with Government policy initiated in 1989 by the then PNDC Secretary for Information, Dr. Mohammed Ben Abdallah, to arrest the poor state of the finances of the State newspaper Houses, SEC sent out invitations to companies to submit proposals for a contract to undertake a study to determine the most appropriate mechanism for restructuring and capitalization of the State Newspaper Houses.
Dr. Nduom emerged on the scene and submitted stage 1 summary results of the News Times Corporation, another one covering the Graphic Corporation Restructuring Project and finally general recommendations on Ghana Publishing Corporation. As expected, Mr. W.A Adda pushed the connection through and Dr. Nduom, Deloitte and Touche Consulting (WA) was asked to provide consultancy services in the restructuring of the three companies. At the end, either there was outright rejection of the project as was executed by Dr. Nduom or a great deal of reservation from the beneficiary organizations. By virtue of his position as Executive Director of the PME department of SEC, Nduom evaluated the work of Deloitte and Touche based upon which evaluation, the company’s work was accepted as satisfactory and paid for. The entire job executed by the company was described as having provided half-measured solutions. Meanwhile there were instances where the Ministry of Information was reported to have accepted invoices from the consultants for processing for payment without verifying the status of the job done.
By this action of processing for payment without verification, an amount of one hundred and fifty-eight thousand, eight hundred and forty US dollars (US$158,840.00) has been paid by the state for no job done.
Based on the above findings, various categories of violation and incompetence in administration procedures with regards to the running of State Enterprises Commission (SEC) by Mr. W.A Adda have been found. He was to bear the responsibility for some of the financial losses to the State from the unlawful transfer of consultancy fees to the foreign accounts of four people namely, Dr. P.K Nduom, Dr. Tait Davis and Professor Mkhululi and Shirima.
From the stock of evidence gathered by the committee, Mr. Adda, Dr.Nduom and Dr. Davis are liable to be charged with criminal responsibility for the loss to the state.
The above investigations were on the instruction of a Presidential Staffer, Nii Okaija Adamafio, who set up a special committee for the purpose, in November 1995, of conducting investigations into allegations of fraud and other malpractices in the State Enterprise Commission (SEC) that had caused serious loss to the state.
This is the man Dr PAA Kwesi Nduom, the Edwumawura. The big question now is has he renounced his US citizenship in his pretext to assume the highest office of the land? Did be abdicate his American citizenship before assuming the position of a cabinet Minister in the erstwhile Kuffour administration?
Nduom who cheaply disposed most of Ghana’s industrial base started by the CPP in the first republic have some of these state owned companies as part of his group of companies. It is plain to see that Nduom still carries his American citizenship of Paul Yorke when abroad and comes to Ghana as Papa Kwesi Nduom. He should come clear on where he really stands so that the EOCO can continue with the probing of his fraud issue.
The True Statesman