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General News of Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Source: Lens

Lens: Rawlingses Know Nothing About Scancem Bribe

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…They Call On Transparency International To Unearth The truth
…And Dare Kufuor and NPP To Nail Them If Case Can Be Proven Against Them

The former first lady, Mrs Konadu Agyemang Rawlings yesterday categorically denied having ever received any bribes from any official of Scancem, the parent company of Ghacem.

Speaking on interviews on Radio Gold Paper Review and Joy Midday news yesterday, Mrs Rawlings described as absurd, reports that during the 1990s she benefitted from kickbacks amounting to millions of dollars from Scancem through Tor Egil Khelsaas, who was at that material time the Director in charge of Africa.

"I do not even know the man, Tor Egil Khelsaas," she said.

The Crusading Guide and The Statesman have been busily repeating libelous reports concocted by a Norwegian newspaper that claimed that the bribes were paid into two bank accounts belonging to Mrs Rawlings- a Barclays Bank account in Geneva and a Unibank account in Luxembourg.

"Where is the money and who collected the money," Mrs Rawlings queried.

She emphatically stated that she does have any such bank account and knows nothing of such payments.

She explained that the issue first came to their attention when the Norwegian newspaper first published the scurrilous accusations back in April, 2007.

Mrs Rawlings said that while efforts are being made to seek the necessary financial support to launch a legal suit against the Norwegian newspaper, the Rawlingses are also preparing a full fledged document meant to be widely circulated to international anti corruption agencies like Transparency International as a way of urging them to actively investigate the issue and bring the truth into the open.

Mrs Rawlings also stated that the judge who presided over the case involving Tor Egil Khelsaas threw the case out of court because the Scancem officials involved failed to substantiate the allegations.

"The new owners of Scancem want the issue back in court to re-investigate the officials involved and we fully back that action," the former first lady said.

"We would not be backing that course of action if we had something to hide. If the Scancem officials actually did pay any such monies, then the investigations would surely show that we have nothing to do with that case."

She explained that the 31 st December Women Movement had several times in the past written to Ghacem requesting support for some of the Movement's projects.

"They have never supported even such small projects. If I had such a relationship with them, why will they not have readily financed projects of the movement," she asked.

Mrs Rawlings had a word for NPP media guard dogs like Kweku Baako who are swooning all over and publishing the libelous claims of the Norwegian newspaper.

"Why don't the NPP government and people like Kweku Baako who claim they have investigative abilities also take up the mantle to unearth the truth behind the allegations," she wondered.

Describing them as people who do not care about the blatant thievery going on under the Kufuor regime, Mrs Rawlings said: "It will be our truth against their lies".

She also stated that she and President Rawlings never knew of any relationship between Mr P.V. Obeng (who incidentally was just recently honoured by the NPP government) and Scancem.

"That is for P.V. to answer. I will not speak for any anyone else because I am not in a position to know what relationship he had with them but if he says he provided them with consultancy services, then it is for him to explain. We never had any relationship with them."

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