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General News of Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Source: GNA

Former Ambassador to Japan reacts to media reports

Accra, Oct. 13, GNA - Dr. Barfuor Adjei-Barwuah, former Ambassador to Japan on Monday said the media-led allegation that he diverted an amount of $125,000 meant for two public universities in Ghana was malice-laden and unjustifiable.

At a press conference in Accra in reaction to the allegation, Dr. Adjei-Barwuah declared, "I have been unjustifiably attacked, and regret the way things in Ghana have been politicized.

"I owe the Ghanaian public I served for more than seven years a word as to the veracity or otherwise of the stories published about me by the Daily Graphic and the Enquirer," he said.

He stated that ghana's economy was not on a sound footing when in December 2001 former President Kufuor entrusted him with the responsibility as Ghana's ambassador to Japan.

By then, Japan had withdrawn a loan offer and had also suspended the non-project grants they offered to support the private sector in Ghana, he noted.

"My charge was to do all I could to have the Japanese government and the people renew their faith in our country," he said, adding that in commitment to this charge he contacted Lotte, a leading chocolate manufacturer in Japan for support.

He explained that he capitalized on the more than 40 years experience of Lotte's Ghana Chocolate Bar as the largest selling product in Ghana, for Lotte to demonstrate some appreciation for the contribution of Ghana to the success story of the company.

Dr. Adjei- Barwuah said this negotiation coincided with former President Kufuor's visit to Japan which yielded dividend.

According to him the Japanese government agreed to give monetary support to graduate students from the Ghanaian universities in the area of cocoa and chocolate industries.

Part of the programme he noted included Lotte sponsored internship package where sponsored students would be invited to work with the company for at least six months prior to their graduation. "Lotte graciously agreed to these propositions and duly lodged $25,000.00 with the Embassy on July 17, 2003," he said, adding that the Vice Chancellors of both the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkruma University of Science and Technology, including the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Cocobod, were duly informed.

Dr. Adjei-Barwuah said to protect the objective of the donation the amount, on December 20, 2003, was moved from the Embassy's Yen account to a Property dollar account.

He explained that when the internship date was fixed with Lotte as the second installment of the scholarship they complained about the lack of any report or indication of any action on the first installment of the scholarship.

"I could also not offer any information on the students who were to come to Tokyo. The company indicated they had decided to roll back the scheme and requested the return of the funding," he said. He further explainded that if the fund was permanently returned to Lotte, Ghana's image as well as his credibility as the nation's representative were all at stake, and there would never be the possibility of any beneficial cooperation between Ghana and the company again.

"In returning the fund I presented Lotte with a new proposition in which I wanted the company to give the funding to my charitable organization to support lower level education," he said.

As part of the new arrangement the first three years' installment would be spent on a basic school in his hometown, the Parkoso School. Dr Adjei-Barwuah indicated that Lotte agreed and subsequently transferred the funds to his Charity's accounts in Accra, and that the account details were communicated to Lotte on July 30, 2004.

He assured his family, friends and all those who have been demonstrably anguished by the newspaper stories that they have nothing to worry about as he was completely innocent. 13 Oct. 09

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