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General News of Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Source: The Enquirer

EO Group's Darkest Secrets


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The E.O. Group, a company whose 3.5% interest in Ghana’s first oil find is estimated to be worth over $200 million, never operated any visible office. Investigators say they traced the registered address given by the company as their place of work to Darko Farms.

Meanwhile, apart from hen coops and animal shelter, investigators could not locate any office belonging to the EO Group, whose promoters are about to face trial for various acts, which are said to border on criminality.

The Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) say they have uncovered a web of shocking criminal conduct involving the promoters of the Group and some top government officials connected to former President John Kufuor.

According to deep throat sources within government, the evidence against the promoters of EO Group, who introduced Kosmos Energy, a US-based oil company to Ghana and walked away with a whopping 3.5% (worth over $200 million) is very weighty and has the potential of nullifying the legal existence of the company. Investigators say, right from whistle blow, some of the promoters of the EO Group demonstrated their criminal intents by falsifying claims and public documents, which enabled them to obtain shares in the name of the company.

EO Group was formed in 2002, between Dr. Kwame Barwuah Edusei and George Owusu as partners, with the initials of their surnames forming the company name. On the company’s registration documents, George Owusu is said to have forged Edusei’s signature as shareholder and a director.

George Owusu is also said to have forged another signature of his partner on the Oath of Declaration forms.

Dr. Bawuah Edusei, whose interest in EO was predicated on a forged document, served as one of the most trusted appointees of then President Kufuor. He was appointed as ambassador to Switzerland in August 2004 and later posted to Washington to head Ghana’s Embassy in the US.

George Owusu, the other partner in EO Group remained a close associate of former president Kufuor at all times, as well as a close buddy to Kan Dapaah, one time Energy Minister under the Kufuor administration.

In December 2004, George Owusu of the EO Group incorporated another company called Newbridge Hospitality Services Limited – to provide transportation services. On the company’s registration forms, Owusu is said to have once again forged the signatures of one Gustav Acquaye, Rex Opoku and Evangeline Boatey as shareholder-directors.

Again in February, 2005, George Owusu, established another company called Equiva Services Limited, to provide human resource services. There, too, he allegedly forged the signature of one Evangeline Boatey as a director of the company on the registration documents.

Whilst serving as the country representative for Kosmos Energy, George Owusu is said to have run the two companies from the office of Kosmos Energy in Accra. Kosmos is said to have allowed George to have his way because he was said to have become too powerful because of his connections.

By 2007, Kosmos was paying George Owusu $25,000 salary as country representative for Kosmos, plus accommodation, a cook, and a car. Surprisingly, whilst paying these salaries, sources say Kosmos brought down to Ghana another expatriate to do the same job for which George was being paid.

In total, George Owusu was said to have received salary in excess of $2 million from Kosmos Energy as country representative over a three-year period.

Surprisingly, soon after George Owusu was questioned by investigators in connection with fictitious invoices during the ongoing probe, Kosmos fired him, supposedly for making certain serious admissions, some of which touched on the credibility of Kosmos.

During a $2.5 million investigation initiated by one of the oil companies in jubilee field, George Owusu was interviewed at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Accra, with an army of four lawyers on his side, where he was again said to have admitted to forging another document.

George, according to sources, claimed that invoices amounting to about $250,000.00 included work supposedly done by EO Group in 2002.

When it was put to George Owusu by US lawyers that at the time he claimed EO Group undertook the said job for which Kosmos was paying them, EO didn’t exist, George Owusu is said to have told them that one Glick, a top officer of Kosmos asked him to forge that invoice.

Within a month, Glick was fired, by Kosmos. Glick is believed to be back in America. After George Owusu’s allegations, the investigation wrote to Glick for comment but he refused to comment.

On January 21, 2009, the US lawyers who were conducting the due diligence for one of the partners in the jubilee field sought to interview Dr Barwuah Edusei. He gave them 45 minutes, during which he picked and chose which questions to answer.

HOW IT ALL STARTED

Contrary to claims from media impresarios that the case against EO Group and George Owusu is an act of President “Mills’ witch hunt,” it has been established that the investigation into the conduct of Kosmos and EO Group preceded the coming into office of the new administration.

It all started in late 2006, when Anadarko, a US oil giant with the capabilities in deep water exploration was invited by partners in the jubilee field to bring on board their expertise.

Since Aandarko was a publicly listed company, they were obliged to conduct proper due diligence.

When Anadarko approached the other companies they were going to partner in the field for information as part of their due diligence, Tullow Oil and Sabre Oil co-operated, but Kosmos Energy and the E.O. Group did not.

Anadarko therefore started a due diligence that was to cost them about $2.5million, using the services of an experienced US Attorney, with 40 years of experience. Anadarko got alarmed when initial investigations revealed several red flags.

Anadarko subsequently deposited their report with the Department of Justice, under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), 70-day mandatory period. Red flags popped up going through the files deposited by Anadarko. It was Anadarko’s rig that was used in drilling the Mahogany 1 exploration well, that hit oil in commercial quantities.

EO GROUP AND GHANA’S OIL

The EO group first came to Ghana in 2002, with Ennex, who presented a solid technical and financial data.

EO, after three months of data review, wrote to the Ministry of Energy to terminate the agreement with Ennex. EO at the time lacked technical and financial expertise required to undertake exploration activities. Edusei was a medical doctor, whilst George Yaw Owusu was an environmentalist. In March 2004, the license was terminated.

George Owusu claimed to have called Jim Musselman to tell him about WCTP and brought on board Kosmos in late March, 2004 and got them interested.

April 30, 2004: Kosmos and EO Group entered into a letter agreement signed between Kwame Barwuah Edusei, for EO and Glick, for Kosmos Energy.

The E.O. Group, under the said agreement had 3.5%, whilst Kosmos Energy had 86.5%.

The agreement stated that Kosmos would carry the E.O. Group and additionally, pay them $250,000.00

The EO Group then approached GNPC, seeking to substitute Kosmos Energy for Ennex under their previous agreement. On May 12, 2004 the GNPC/Ministry of Energy, in a letter to the EO Group, told the latter that they did not have an agreement. On the same day, May 12, 2004 the EO Group wrote a letter to GNPC, copied to the MOE and President John Kufuor, saying their letter terminating the agreement was a misunderstanding because they meant to terminate their relationship with Ennex and not GNPC.

Three days later, May 15, 2004 the Application with Kosmos Energy was approved and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed, stating that they have a license. That was a record time, as petroleum agreements generally are preceded by due diligence and hard negotiations to maximize benefits for Ghana.

In July 2004, they signed a petroleum agreement with GNPC/Government of Ghana. The Petroleum Agreement was signed on behalf of the EO Group by Derrick Oppong Agyare. Even though he was neither an official, director nor a shareholder of the company, he was supposed to have done so under a Power of Attorney, granted him by the group.

Kosmos then came to Ghana. They appointed George Owusu as their Country Representative at an initial fee of $3,000 per month, increasing it to $8,000 and then to $10,000.

In July 2004, Kosmos paid the EO Group $75,000.00 as part of the $250, 000.00. In August 2004, Kosmos paid the Group another $75,000.00. In the same month of August 2004, Edusei was appointed Ghana’s Ambassador to Switzerland. The closeness between the last payment and the appointment of Dr. Edusei as Ambassador to Switzerland got Anadarko’s investigators worried. This was because under the FCPA it is an offence for American companies to pay monies that benefit foreign public officers.

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