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General News of Thursday, 27 August 2020

Source: starrfm.com.gh

ASEPA petitions CHRAJ over Akufo-Addo's deal with lobby firm KRL

President Akufo-Addo and Dr Bawumia President Akufo-Addo and Dr Bawumia

The Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) has petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) over claims that public funds have been used to settle an international elections and lobbying firm KRL.

Reports say the firm which claims to have helped President Akufo-Addo to win the 2016 elections were paid with public funds after they were allegedly given a contract by government.

The company on its website mentions “Unseating the incumbent in Ghana’s presidential election” as an achievement.

The firm claims to have fashion out a message and for then-candidate Akufo-Addo using media trends and local polls.

In a petition, ASEPA said the Akufo-Addo government regularised relationship with the firm after winning power.

Claims by Open Source

The KRL-NPP contract

On June the 1st 2016, American PR firm KRL International entered into an agreement with I Am For Nana Foundation, an organization created by Ghana’s New Patriotic Party (NPP) to fund the presidential campaign of Nana Akufo-Addo. According to the registration form filed with the U.S. Department of Justice (which monitor foreign lobbying), the beneficiary of the services provided by KRL was a “foreign political party”, New Patriotic Party. (See 5788-Exhibit-AB-20160720-17)

The declared aim of the agreement was to “support free and fair elections in Ghana in support of Nana Akufo-Addo Presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party”. KRL was employed to provide lobbying services (with the US Government, the donor community and media institutions), advise Nana Addo on the communications strategy, and “provide in-country support as required and appropriate throughout the electoral process”.

In fact, according to KRL’s website, the PR firm founded and led by Riva Levinson, a specialist in dirty lobbying and influence operations (Riva Levinson’s dirty lobbying and influence operations), ran the entire presidential campaign of Nana Akufo-Addo (www.krlinternational.com/case-study-ghana-election).

Signatories and fees

The agreement was signed by Chris Beatty, managing director of KRL, and Ken Ofori Atta, director of I Am For Nana Foundation.

A long-time associate of Riva Levinson, Chris Beatty had also been involved in the Kosmos Energy-sponsored smear campaign against Ghana in 2009-2010 (www.opensourceinvestigations.com/).  NPP’s main financier Ken Ofori Atta is Nana Akufo Addo’s cousin and campaign finance manager. Appointed Finance Minister in January 2017, Ofori Atta has recently partnered with ExxonMobil in the Deepwater Cape Three Points oil block (www.opensourceinvestigations.com/).

The fee specified in the contract was 7,500 USD per month without expenses, but the payments were much higher. By January 31, 2017, I Am For Nana Foundation had already paid KRL more than 100,000 USD for “consulting services and travel related expenses” (see 5788-Supplemental-Statement-20160819-20, 5788-Supplemental-Statement-20170228-21)

The breach of law: Contract extension with Office of the President-elect for Ghana

Nana Akufo-Addo won the December 2016 presidential elections and assumed office on January 27, 2017. KRL continued to campaign on Nana Addo’s and NPP’s behalf.

A contract extension was signed on February 27, 2017. The beneficiary (NPP) and purpose (supporting Nana Addo) remained the same. But the payments were no longer made by a private entity, I Am For Nana Foundation; they were now made by the Office of the President-elect for Ghana, using public funds. (see 5788-Amendment-20170228-7)

According to the Amendment filed by KRL with the US regulators, “original contract was with the election campaign foundation for Nana Akufo-Addo. He became the President-elect and is now the President of Ghana. This contract extension for this reporting period is between KRL International LLC and the Office of the President elect for Ghana”

Despite both Ghanaian and US laws, KRL International was providing services for a Ghanaian political party (New Patriotic Party), while being paid by Ghana’s Government.

Cover-ups and false statements

On June 28, 2017, KRL International and the Government of Ghana, represented by the Ministry of Finance, entered into a new and different consultancy service contract. (see 5788-Exhibit-AB-20170705-21)

On August 30, 2017, KRL filed an Amendment “to clarify change in name of a KRL International LLC client”, suggesting that the replacement of I Am For Nana Foundation with the Office of the President-elect of Ghana had never happened.

Without mentioning the February 27, 2017 contract extension, KRL claimed that “once President Akufo-Addo took Office a new agreement was consumated between KRL International LLC and the Government of Ghana, Ministry of Finance on June 28, 2017. At that point in time – KRL said – the agreement between KRL International LLC and I Am For Nana Foundation was terminated, because the campaign effort no longer existed.” (see 5788-Amendment-20170830-10)

It was a desperate attempt to cover-up the fact that for four months (from February 27 to June 28, 2017), Ghana’s Government paid KRL for services provided on behalf of the New Patriotic Party. By June 28, 2017, KRL had referred to the Office of the President-elect for Ghana as a client in three forms filed with the US Department of Justice. (see 5788-Amendment-20170228-7, 15788-Exhibit-AB-20170228-19, 5788-Supplemental-Statement-20170228-21)

The cover-up went even further. In a statement filed with the US Department of Justice in August 2017, KRL International claimed that lobbying services provided by KRL in April 2017 were made on behalf of “the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Ghana”. (see 5788-Supplemental-Statement-20170830-22)

OSI alleges that this agreement has been amended post the election. This amended agreement OSI alleges replaces the “I am For Nana Foundation” with “Office of President-elect of Ghana”.

OSI claims this is a desperate attempt to “cover up the fact that for four months (February 27 to June 28, 2017), Ghana’s government paid KRL for services provided on behalf of the NPP.

OSI alleges further that KRL filed documents with the US Department of Justice in August 2017. They also claimed that lobbying services provided by KRL in April 2017 were made on behalf of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Ghana”.

It claims its current work was a different contract with the Finance Ministry.

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