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General News of Thursday, 7 May 2015

Source: Vanguard

Ghc74m loss at BOST: MD accuses Huudu Yahaya, NDC board

The embattled Managing Director of Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation, Kingsley Kwame Awuah-Darko has confirmed reports of fraud, impropriety, arm-twisting and extortion at the strategic national asset, resulting in a massive financial loss of Ghc74.41 million in just four years.

Mr. Awuah-Darko indicated the financial loss did not occur under his stewardship but was still in the era of Mills-Mahama administration with Huudu Yahaya as Board Chairman and Dr. Yaw Akoto as Managing Director.

According to him, it was as a result of the gross mismanagement and arm-twisting under the same ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) that he signed an agreement with TSL, a Ghanaian subsidiary of Nigerian-owned firm for it to operate, maintain and manage BOST’s petroleum terminals in the country for a year at a total cost of about $7.2 million

Under the agreement, the contract could be extended to five years at the cost of $7.2 million a year.

In a hurriedly arranged news conference at the Fiesta Royal Hotel in Accra to debunk a story by Vanguard on controversial agreements, alleged corruption and malfeasance leveled against him by BOST workers; Mr. Awuah-Darko evaded the critical issues raised by the paper and ended up heaping all the blame on Huudu Yahaya’s Board and the previous management.

He told journalists that BOST in 2010, made a loss of more than Ghc3.8 million, more than Ghc14.2 million in 2011, over Ghc10.85 million in 2012 and Ghc45.56 million in 2013, all totaling over Ghc74.41 million.

According to Mr. Awuah-Darko who took over Managing Directorship of BOST in October 2013, the company made a profit of Ghc8.1 million in 2014 when TSL was contracted.

He, however, failed to disclose the amount BOST paid to TSL for a proper and informed balance sheet of profit and loss to be drawn on the accounts of the state-owned company.

Fighting a credibility battle and in a subtle attempt to divert attention from serious allegations of mismanagement and political victimisation leveled against him, Mr. Awuah-Darko reportedly leaked a damning report of a ministerial committee to the media, to expose the impropriety of his predecessor and former Board chairman Huudu Yahaya.

The ministerial committee of inquiry chaired by Mrs. Clotilde Agbenoto, was set up on June 18, 2013 by then Minister for Energy and Petroleum, Emmanuel Kofi-Armah Buah to investigate allegations of fraud, impropriety, arm-twisting and extortion at the Accra Plains and Kumasi Depots of BOST.

After almost two months of investigation, the committee handed its report to Mr. Buah on August 5, 2013.

However, the report was shelved for almost two years by the minister until it was recently leaked to sections of the media following agitations by BOST workers against their MD, Awuah-Darko, over what they had described as mismanagement of the company.

The report, a copy of which is in the possession of Vanguard, uncovered about 24 cases of impropriety, fraud, extortion and arm-twisting.

It stated for instance that the Board of Directors chaired by Huudu Yayaha who is now rewarded as Board member at Ghana Grid Company Limited (GridCo), interfered in management’s activities.

According to the committee, it was inappropriate for the Board Chairman, Huudu Yahaya, to have entertained a petition from Accra Plains Deport (APD) Manager, Bagnaba Van-Gogh.

“The Chairman and the Board of Directors appear to have cowed management into submission. One of such example is the disruption of rotation exercise (rotation of managers of BOST depots),” the report bemoaned.

It said, “extortion of monies from Tanker Drivers ends up in siphoning of products to make up for monies paid to staff at the Depots but management and the governing board have not developed any mechanisms or strategies to counteract these vices.”

Again, transporters use politicians and “big men” to interfere and distract the smooth running of discharging/loading operations at the depots.

The report stated further that there is extortion of monies, creation of avenues for arm-twisting, impropriety and to some extent fraud at both Accra and Kumasi depots, adding “there is a chain of ‘thank you’ and/or show of appreciation at both depots.

The damning report revealed fraud, extortion, gross mismanagement, impropriety by political appointees of Mills-Mahama administration, running down BOST in the process.

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