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General News of Wednesday, 29 November 2000

Source: Weekly Insight

Company Bosses Drop Big Names in ?200 Billion Scandal

In a bid to extricate themselves from the scandal involving the loss of more than ?200 billion to the state the bosses of the three companies involved have resorted to name calling and the dropping of big names.

The Directors of TIN-IFA (Ghana) Limited and Intercom Data Network (Ghana) Limited have instead of responding to the allegation that they illegally terminated international calls and made them look like local calls have concentrated on attacking the character of Dr. Ben Adu, a consultant of the National Communications Authority (NCA).

They have claimed that Dr. Adu instigated the investigations because he had set up a similar company and wanted to kill off competition.

The case of the NCA is that the two companies and Mac Telecom which is partly owned by two Israelis illegally installed sophisticated equipment which gave them the capacity to make international telephone calls look like local calls.

Through this practice, the three companies and their foreign partners pocketed more than US $30 million, which they kept in foreign accounts in the USA and Israel.

In an interview with the "Weekly Insight" Mr. Francis Quartey, a Director of the IDN insisted that his company had done nothing illegal and mentioned Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings and her 31st December Women's Movement as some of their clients.

Other clients mentioned included the United Nations and some of its agencies and some Western Embassies.

Mr. Quartey could however not state whether these clients used the facilities, which were allegedly installed illegally.

Clearly the dropping of big names is meant to cloud the issues, which include whether or not any of the operations of the companies was illegal, whether the equipment installed had been examined by the NCA as required by law and why monies accruing from their operations were kept in foreign banks?

In the case of Mac Telecom, one of its Directors, a Liberian refugee, Mr. Scot Wright has put the blame for the illegal operations squarely on the shoulders of two Israeli Directors of the company, Ainstern and Libermann.

In a statement to the Police, Wright said he became suspicious when he noticed that telephone bills from Ghana Telecom were running into tens of million of cedis.

He then decided to make a report to Ghana Telecom but the two Israeli directors assured him that there was nothing to worry about.

Ainstern and Libermann then transferred monies from Israel to enable him to pay the telephone bills from Ghana Telecom.

Currently, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the National Communications Authority (NCA) are at each others throat over the conduct of investigations into the alleged crime.

The NCA has already asked the Attorney General to investigate circumstances under which the SFO allegedly made false representations to the Greater Accra Regional Tribunal trying the directors of the three companies.

The SFO has also accused officials of the NCA especially its consultant Dr. Ben Adu of acting in their self-interest.

Dr. Adu has told the "Weekly Insight" that the national interest has been his only motivation in his work as a consultant of the NCA.

Informed sources say that Ghana Telecom has joined the fray and is considering instituting civil legal action to claim the monies it lost through the illegal operations of the three companies.

Public concern is that, the truth has still not been fully established in the case and it will be important for an independent body other than the SFO to go into the matter.

Obviously the fact of the First Lady and the 31st December Women's Movement being clients of IDN is neither here nor there.

The main point is did anybody do anything illegal and what is it? How much did the illegal activity cost Ghana?