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General News of Sunday, 25 October 2015

Source: The Republic

Akufo-Addo secretly picks Cousin to manage 'campaign fund'

Nana Akufo-Addo - NPP Presidential Candidate Nana Akufo-Addo - NPP Presidential Candidate

The flagbearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo has once again picked his cousin Ken Ofori-Atta as fund manager for his 2016 presidential campaign, the Republic Newspaper can report.

This highly controversial appointment made by the much-criticized flagbearer was without any recourse to the various executives and committees of the party, as a simmering discontent engulfs the party hierarchy, this paper gathered.

The Databank director is currently roaming with his cousin and boss William Akufo Addo on his three days tour to the US where he is struggling to raise the needed funds to execute the campaign.

Mr. Ofori-Atta whose stewardship of Akufo Addo’s previous campaign funds had caused massive scandals on NPP party funds is said to have been picked by the flagbearer just at the eve of his campaign tour to the United States this week.

Critics fear that with Ken Ofori-Atta managing campaign funds, the party may be faced with the same financial issues that confronted it in the run up to the 2012 elections where parliamentary candidates and polling station agents complained that necessary funds for mobilizing voters never trickled down to them.

Akufo-Addo has often been flayed for his over-reliance on his family members and friends to coordinate his campaigns, rather than the official party structures.

This dependence on close allies has been linked to his two defeats at the Presidential polls in 2008 and in 2012. He is said to have maintained the status quo for his third attempt in 2016. Critics, foresee a repeat of his defeats in 2016, particularly with his shock appointment of Ken Ofori-Atta as campaign fund manager.

According to party sources, the non-cooperation of Ken Ofori-Atta’s management team with the mainstream party structures led to parallel campaign accounts created by the party as they struggled to salvage the financial drought the party had to contend with run up to the 2012 elections.

The management of Akufo Addo’s campaign funds by Mr. Ofori Atta (CEO of Databank, an investment firm cited for the scandalous Obotan financial deal several years ago) has been blamed on the current financial quagmire facing the main opposition party.

Reliable sources have told this paper that after Ken Ofori-Atta’s stint with party finances during and after the 2012 presidential elections, the party’s funds have been left in tatters. Three bank accounts of the party have been rendered almost dormant.

As at the last check, NPP’s account at Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) hold just about GHC 89.00 while at Prudential Bank, the party is said to be in debt to the tune of almost GHC 2 million. At Ecobank, almost GHC 6 million of funds from parliamentary aspirants lodged into the account a few months ago have been completely depleted with no proper accounts made.

Recently, Ken Ofori-Atta was questioned over the manner in which he reportedly used party letterhead to secure a GHC 2 million overdraft from Prudential Bank without the knowledge of the party’s executives.

Both the party’s General Secretary and National Chairman, Kwabena Agyei Agyapong and Paul Afoko respectively, have denied knowledge of how the Prudential Bank debt was acquired.

When pinned to the wall, Ken Ofori-Atta was forced to make public statements that the liabilities of the Prudential bank’s facility was his personal liability.

But serious questions were raised. For instance he was questioned about who the principal borrower of the Prudential bank's loan was since he and his deputy, Keli Gadzekpo used the party’s letterhead to apply for the funds from the bank. Also questions about the exact collaterals used to guarantee the huge facility have been raised. It is yet unclear if the debt is an NPP debt or a Ken Ofori-Atta debt on behalf of the NPP.

In a reaction to heated debate over the debt, Mr. Ofori-Atta recently issued a statement saying he was “…personally liable for any obligation that arises from this transaction and not in any way the New Patriotic Party.

The Republic Newspaper can report that this issue is one main issue that has driven a wedge in the relationship between Akufo Addo who was a beneficiary of the campaign funds (being the party’s presidential candidate in 2012) and the current top executives; Paul Afoko and Kwabena Agyapong.

Apparently, in 2012, Akufo Addo had raised and blown a whopping GHC 57 million on his presidential campaign without revealing details of this funds and its expenditure to the party structures. The funds were managed by his cousin Ken Ofori-Atta and his partner Keli Gadzekpo, who co-own Databank, an investment firm that has recently been rocked by controversies about how they handle clients’ mutual funds.

Databank is involved in the infamous 'Obotan scandal' where it reportedly used subtle means to infiltrate the Social Security and National Investment Fund (SSNIT) to skim off a whopping US$2.24 from pensioner’s fund. The company later used its influence in the then NPP government when Akufo-Addo was the Attorney General to cover up the deal.

A forensic audit initiated by then administration of John Agyekum Kufuor described it as a scandalous investment.

The forensic report recommended the criminal prosecution of the NPP flagbearer’s cousin Ken Ofori-Atta and five others, but that recommendation has since been ignored, allowing the workers’ US$ 2. 244 million pension money to disappear into thin air.

A few years after this scandal, Databank became the money bag for Nana Addo’s 2008 election campaign, according to Arthur Kennedy’s book, “Chasing The Elephant Into the Bush: The Politics of Complacency”. Ken Ofori-Atta became the campaign fund manager of the Akufo Addo campaign.

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