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General News of Monday, 12 October 2009

Source: Emmanuel Akli & George Kyei Frimpong for Ghanaian Chronicle

Disgraced Minister Links Kufuor to M&J Scandal

The Minister of Health, Dr. Sipa Yankey, who tendered in his resignation last Friday over the Mabey and Johnson bribery scandal, has accused the current British High Commissioner to Ghana, Dr. Nick Westcott and former President J.A Kufuor of being the brains behind the saga.

According to him, he has been reliably informed that “the whole scheme about this Mabey and Johnson case, the people behind it are the current British High Commissioner and former President Kufuor.”

Speaking to The Chronicle in an interview at his residence in Accra, over the weekend, Dr. Yankey insisted that “Kufuor and the High Commissioner are close friends, and they wine and dine together”.

A source contacted at the British High Commission told these reporters that the allegation could never be true. The source promised that the High Commission would officially respond to the allegations, after it has fully appraised what Dr. Sipa Yankey said.

On September 25th 2009, the Mabey and Johnson Company were pronounced guilty by the Southwark Crown Court in London, on charges of corruption and violating sanctions, by bribing Ghana government officials to secure a £60million contract to construct bridges in the country, in the 90s.

Dr. Yankey and Alhaji Ahmadu Seidu, a Minster of State at the Presidency, who were indicted in the case, tendered in their resignations on Friday

Dr. Yankey alleged that at 6:00am, on the day of the presidential run-off, Dr. Westcott was in the residence of the then New Patriotic Party (NPP) Presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo.

“What was he doing there on that day and at that time,” he asked.

The Former Health Minister maintained that before the general elections, the Commissioner allegedly met with some British citizens in the country to assure them to stay calm, since the election was a done deal for the NPP.

“One of the British nationals then retorted that he hoped it would not be 'a Jake Obtsebi-Lamptey's' win, referring to the situation where Jake declared NPP winner of the 2004 elections, even before the Electoral Commissioner had officially declared the result,” he emphasized.

The spokesperson for former President Kufuor, Mr. Frank Agyekum described Dr. Yankey's claims as ridiculous, and promised to respond appropriately after this publication.

Dr. Yanke, however, insisted that his friends in NPP have hinted him that the case was a plot by the country's largest minority party, since they see him as a threat to their electoral chances in 2012, and that if President Mills should have about three of his (Dr.Yankey) caliber in government, it would be very unpleasant for them.

“That is how come they decided to go about 15 years to 20years to look for dirt to throw at me and my colleagues, but I will not give them the chance that is why I have resigned,” he intimated.

According to Dr. Yankey ever since he started his work as a public servant he has never received bribe from any person or any institution adding “I will never ever by the grace of God take bribe from anybody or any company.”

Dilating on the bribery allegations against him, he said at the time the Mabey and Johnson started their operations in Ghana, he was the head of the Legal Department at the Ministry of Finance, “I have never being a Minister at the Roads and Highways, neither was I a deputy minister or a chief director or even a director at that ministry which could be responsible for awarding contracts for roads or bridges.”

“I was not a minister at that place to form the basis for anybody to bribe me, I was a head of a legal unit at the Ministry of Finance, I didn't have any hand in the award of contracts, it is a false allegation without any basis at all,” he stressed.

Touching on his dealings with the company, he noted that as a legal officer at the Ministry of Finance all agreements were done through them to add their legal opinion on any agreement.

He said the decision to resign was to enable him have ample time to clear his name in London and protect his reputation for the sake of his family and the government.

He noted that the past government wanted to use the Mabey and Johnson case to obstruct the president from pursuing the Vodafon case and investigations into the activities of the Ghana@50 secretariat and other criminal acts they perpetuated that are yet to come out.

“I have also come to the conclusion that I am being used as a springboard to attack the President, there is a smear campaign against Prof. Mills, this is the man who God has given us to rule the country but the forces of evil do not want him to work they want to you this to obstruct his attention to making Ghana a better place,” he moaned.

Dr.Yankey indicated that he would also go the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice to investigate the bribery allegation and any other charges, “I am being accused of bribe but I have not received any bribe from any body, I see bribe as amounting to extortion, blackmail and stealing because you are forcing someone to give you something that is not yours.”

He said although the company is outside the jurisdiction of this country, CHRAJ could still invite them through the British High Commission to substantiate the allegations made since the contract they executed was in Ghana.

Reacting to part of the court proceedings which alleged that the bribe was paid into his accounts, he responded that the court should have invited him to question him on whether or not the account belonged to him.

He said the statements of the directors of Mabey and Johnson who pleaded guilty in court was inconsistent.

“In one they say they gave me 10,500, in another they say15, 000, another one they say 30, so which is which?” he remarked. According to him the old directors of Mabey and Johnson who dealt with the government officials have denied paying bribes to government officials and pleaded not guilty to that allegation however, it is a new set of directors who did not have any dealings in Ghana were those who have pleaded guilty because they do not want any prolonged court case.

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