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General News of Friday, 26 October 2007

Source: the Enquirer

How Minister's Daughter Swindled Govt Cash

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Saga of the 2 billion cash
…the story of Sheila and Silvia Bartels

IT was like a game of ping-pong by the Bartels'. Sheila Bartels and her hubby Nana Ayitey Sam on one side and Silvia Bartels and her hubby also on the other. The game plan was to use a complicated but yet simple tactics to dribble the government and grab and blow money under the Trade and Investment Reform Program.

When the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning awarded over 2 billion a dead company called Platinum Technologies Ltd owned by Sheila Bartels to buy equipment, General Leasing Company Ltd, mandated by the government to manage the fund decided that they would pay companies who supply the equipment to Platinum Technologies directly.

Investigations reveal that in April 12, 2005, a company called Asbax Ghana Ltd, also owned by one Silvia Bartels (another daughter of Kwamena Bartels) and her husband sent an invoice worth 524,174,264 Cedis to Platinum Technologies Ltd. representing the cost of 50 computers and accessories. Platinum is also owned by Sheila Bartels and her husband.

Following the submission of the invoice, General Leasing & Finance Company Ltd, managers of the Ghana Investment Reform Program wrote to Asbax Ghana Ltd. on May 19, 2005 saying that they were acquiring the equipment for the use of Platinum Technologies Ltd.

"We request that the selected equipment is made available to our client in the presence of our designated staff. Our cheque covering the above purchase for 524,174,264.00 will be forwarded to your company within one week of delivery" a letter signed by one Daniel Ofori Danquah, head of operation stated. The 524,174,264.00 represented the supply of "50 Units of computers, 1 Voltage Stabilizer, 15 Units of Phones, 1 PABX System, 1 Floor Mounted Cabinet, 5 Units 24-Ports Switches and Units Patch Panels"

On June 8, 2005, general leasing issued a check with number 991713, from its account to Asbax Ghana Ltd whose corporate account number 12751001 is lodged with The Trust Bank Ltd.

Investigations revealed that, instead of General leasing paying the money to Asbax Ghana Ltd, the cheque was handed over to a man identified by The Enquirer as the accountant of Platinum Technologies ltd.

Further investigations reveal that on June 9, 2005 the accountant of Platinum Technologies who was in possession of the 524,174,264.00 deposited the cheque in Asbax Ghana Ltd's account under a special clearing arrangement. Two days after General Leasing issued the 524,174,264.00 cheque to Asbax Ghana Ltd, for the supply of the equipment, Absax owned by Silvia Bartels forwarded the entire money back Platinum Technologies Ltd, her junior sister's company.

The 524,174,264.00 which only transited in Asbax Ghana Ltd's account at The Trust Bank was retransferred to Platinum Technologies through a Trust Bank cheque with number, TTB025645.

Three days after Asbax transferred the money back to Platinum, Sheila Bartels issued a memo dated June 14, 2005 announcing that "The second batch of payment for our working Capital has been paid to the company in the sum of 524 million after charges and deductions. As per our covenant with God between GOD and the company, we are submitting our tithes of %10 (52m) to the following missions. Prayer of Hope Ministry: 35M, Global Revival Ministry: 10M, the remaining 7M will be held in our accounts until it is deemed necessary"

The turn of events sparked controversy among insiders who questioned how money paid to Asbax Ghana Ltd for the supply of equipment to Platinum Technologies could be retransferred back to Platinum Technologies who were expected to take delivery of the equipment and as "second batch of working Capital"

Insiders alerted The Enquirer's investigators Asbax Ghana Lts, did not supply the computers and that the whole thing just a ploy to "swindle' the 524,174,264.00 which under normal circumstances should have gone to genuine supplier. Staff of Platinum Technologies told Enquirer's investigators during the one year investigations that "a friend of Hon. Bartels brought us some slightly used computers" adding that Platinum did not indeed take delivery of any computers from Asbax Ghana Ltd who were paid the 524,174,264.00 for the supply of the said computers.

When the Enquirer told the staff that we had documents suggesting that General Leasing had indicated that the equipment had to be supplied "in the presence" of their staff, Platinum Technologies staff said that the computers which was shown to General Leasing was not from Asbax Ghana Ltd as they claimed.

Subsequent investigations by The Enquirer revealed that, the names mentioned as the donors of the computers had taken up shareholding in Platinum Technologies Ltd on July 9, 2005, exactly a month after the said computers which was said to have presented to General Leasing as if it was supplied by Asbax Ghana. Ltd

On July 9, 2005, documents obtained by The Enquirer indicate that Sheila Bartels who owned 50,000 shares in Platinum Technologies Ltd transferred 10,000 in consideration of an amount of 167,000,000 to one Isaac Kobina Mensah, a man Interior Minister, Kwamena Bartels admits in an interview with The Enquirer a friend.

On the same July 9, 2005, Sheila Bartels' husband, Nana Ayitey Sam also transferred 10,000 shares out of his 50,000 to the same Mr. Isaac Kobina Mensah also for an amount 167,000,000.

On that same again day, documents suggest that Nana Ayitey Sam who had transferred 10,000 shares to Isaac Kobina Mensah again signed another deed of transfer to transfer 14,000 shares to the same Isaac Kobina Mensah, this time in consideration for 233,000,000.

It is this man, that the staff said supplied the slightly used computers. . In total, Sheila Bartels and her hubby Nana Ayitey Sam transferred shares in Platinum Technologies Ltd to the value of 567,000,000, a figure which almost equals the cost of the computers which was to be supplied at 524,174,264.00.

Both daughters of the Minister of Interior, Silvia Bartels and Sheila Bartels as well as General Leasing refused to comment on the issue when the Enquirer contacted them. Sheila Bartels said she will never grant any interview to The Enquirer and hanged up the phone. Silvia Bartels also said she does not want to make a comment and also hanged up the phone. General Leasing told The Enquirer early this year that they could not comment on any issue affecting clients in the projects.

At the, Platinum could not execute a single job and failed to pay up the money. The company rather dismissed all their workers. It was whilst Sheila Bartels and her husband were being pursued to repay the money that their father's Ministry which was then Ministry of Private Sector Development/Presidential Special Initiative awarded Sheila and her husband another 4 billion under another program.

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