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General News of Monday, 8 October 2007

Source: The Enquirer

How Bartels Sprinkled 4 billion cedis ...

When Daddy decides to stay sweet to his daughter and son-in-law, when Daddy is in charge of a multi-billion government project, and daughter and son in-law are beneficiaries of that project, there cannot be a better name for your company than what Sheila Bartels, daughter of Kwamena Bartels, and her hubby gave to their company.

"STAY SWEET SUGAR INDUSTRIES LTD" is the name of the company.

Sheila Bartels and hubby Nana Ayitey Sam, have a man in their life who put sparkles in their business. And that man is Kwamena Bartels, who on March 30, 2006, was the Minister for Private Sector Development and Presidential Special Initiative and who gave them a sparkle valued at over ¢4 billion.

Established in February 2002, Sheila Bartels then 26 years, and her husband Nana Ayitey Sam, then 30 years are the only individuals listed as both shareholders and directors of Stay Sweet Industries.

Fours years on, Sheila Bartels turned 30 years and her company entered its 4th year of business without any visible track record, but Stay Sweet Sugar Industries was awarded a 4-billion-cedi (310,000 euros) facility under the Ghana Private Sector Development Fund-Italian Credit.

The above Italian Credit facility was pioneered by Hon. Bartels. The fund was also under the firm control of the Ministry of Private Sector Development, where Kwamena Bartels was the supervising Minister.

Kwamena Bartels, The Enquirer established, was also the chairman of the committee responsible for approving proposals from the hundreds of companies who submitted applications to benefit from the facility.

Each company could benefit up to about Euros 450,000

Fellow committee members admitted to The Enquirer last year September that as a member of the committee which approves applications, they are privy to the guidelines regarding what should constitutes a successful proposal because they defined "what constitutes a successful application"

According to investigations conducted by the Enquirer, when the Italian facility was concluded, The Minister gathered his daughter and son-in-law on one fine Sunday after church and tipped them off about the facility and asked them to apply.

Subsequently, investigations revealed that the Minister, with all his insider knowledge about application guidelines also coached his daughter and his son-in-law on how best to structure his proposal in order to be successful. Interestingly, at that time, Bartels was the general overseer of the fund and maintained his post as Chairman of the selection Committee and sector Minister of the fund.


Documents available to The Enquirer revealed that On March 30, 2006, a seemingly excited Bartels wrote a five- paragraph letter under his Ministry's letterhead with reference number MPSD/SCR/ITA-A/03 to General Leasing and Financing Company then managers of the fund and now called Horizon, happily announcing that Stay Sweet Sugar Industries had been selected by his Ministry to benefit from the fund.

Kwamena Bartel's letter also asked the management company to fast-track the final documentation process with his daughter’s company and indicated in the letter that the risk covering the facility was going to be covered by the government.

Attached to the letter was a management agreement covering the risk which he said had to be signed by his Ministry and the company managing the fund. On May 19, 2006, General leasing and Financing Company wrote to Stay Sweet quoting the letter from Bartels and informing Bartels' daughter that her application had been approved and that government of Ghana was going to cover the risk.


Speaking in an interview with The Enquirer, Kwamena Bartels who is now the Interior Minister confirmed tipping off his daughter and son-in-law and also admitted asking them to apply as well as coaching them on how to apply but said he did that because the project was already advertised.

When challenged about why he was coaching and assisting his daughter to apply for the facility knowing very well that he knew the best way to coach somebody to succeed, by virtue of the fact that he presided over the selection committee, he said there is” absolutely nothing wrong with it" adding "Are they not Ghanaians" Bartels said he coached other 32 other people who are not his children, it is perfectly legitimate.

When The Enquirer questioned him on whether the coaching and assisting of his daughter and her hubby as well as the so-called 32 people about "how to go about it" is assistance all applicants enjoyed or were likely to enjoy under normal circumstance, he said he did not see anything wrong with it..

"I told my daughter who was already into fruit processing that if you want to expand this is another way of expanding, go and apply. When it got to the point of decision making, I made sure that I was not part of it" Bartels defended himself.

"You were the Chairman of the approving process, in fact the committee, you virtually knew how to coach somebody to get the money, and don’t you think that you had already done the job with your daughter? Telling her about the possibility, showing her the best way to get the process done, and then you go to the committee and excuse yourself, what's is the difference" The Enquirer asked

But Bartels insisted that it was perfectly legitimate "I coached my daughter and 32 other people who are not my children" adding that all he did was to show them "this is how you do it, go and do your business plan"

"I don’t know what your definition of assistance is", adding that all he did was “Drawing their attention to it, telling them that the facility is available, this is how you go about it, I have done that for 32 other people", Bartels said.

When he was accused of insider trading, he said “I am saying it was advertised, The Ghana Private Sector Development Fund is one of the most publicised funds. It was advertised publicly. My daughter was into processing of orange juice and I told her, why don’t you apply"

But insiders wonder that if the fund was the most advertised as Bartels wants the public to believe, why did it still take his prompting to draw the attention of his daughter and son in law.

Interestingly, at the time Bartels drew his daughter’s attention and coached her on how to apply, he had not excused himself as committee chairman and as sector Minister. He admits that he only excused himself when he saw his daughter's application at the selection committee.

When The Enquirer revealed to him that even though he claims he excused himself from the entire process, he signed a letter on March 30, that his Ministry had awarded the facility to his daughter’s company, he said he later joined after the committee had selected his daughter’s company. “

Bartels admitted signing that letter but said the writing of the letter was just an administrative function.

Meanwhile, a member of the committee who spoke to The Enquirer said he does not recollect Bartels excusing himself at any point and expressed surprise at Bartels’claim.

When asked how he excused himself, he said he did that verbally but said it might have been captured in the minutes of that day. He told The Enquirer that his alibi is the former Italian Ambassador who is no more in Ghana.

"What does my man Bartels mean that the writing of the letter to his daughter announcing the award of the facility by his Ministry to her was only administrative, the selection process is also a bureaucratic, administrative process. It is not a scientific research, neither is it a space exploration process. If one selects and another signs, we are all doing the same thing. We are all contributing to one process" the member said.

"If we want someone murdered and one person goes to fetch him, then the another ties his legs and the third person cuts his throat, how can one say that because he didn't hold the cutlass to cut his throat he is not part of the action. We are all accessories to the crime, because at every point we all contributed to the murder"

The committee member said, it is his hope that some of these happenings won’t destroy the image of the project because "it is by all standards a good project, we have to congratulate Bartels for his efforts but I am sorry his explanation concerning his daughter's facility is not acceptable ".

But members of the committee, his own committee members told The Enquirer last week that the project was advertised, the rules were clearly advertised, the job of the committee members is to give an objective assessment of a proposal, so I am wondering why he chose to assist people to apply for the fund outside his official job as committee chairman. So did he excuse himself in the case of the other 30 applicants? Anyway, let’s leave it here, but please tell the public that the project is a good project and fits perfectly with the President’s dream of helping the private sector to be the engine of growth"