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General News of Monday, 19 July 2021


Parliament resumes ‘overpriced’ Sputnik V probe today

Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu

The parliamentary committee probing allegations of an overpriced Sputnik V deal continues sitting today, Monday, July 19.

Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu who superintended over the deal is expected to appear before the committee to answer questions from the minority side who had raised red flags about the deal.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) had requested time to study documents the minister presented to the committee last Thursday.

The minister on the last meeting disclosed the deal with the Emirati Sheikh had been terminated but justified his decision to go ahead and procure the vaccines despite the Attorney General’s advice that he needed to get parliamentary approval.

Meanwhile, Deputy National Youth Organizer of the National Democratic Congress(NDC) Edem Agbana, said the opposition caucus in parliament has been vindicated by advocating for the truth and making sure that Ghana was saved from losing millions of taxpayer’s money to middlemen in procuring Sputnik V vaccines from Russia.

He said the National Democratic Congress (NDC) willfully stood by the truth in protecting the public purse from corrupt government officials and some middlemen deliberately stealing money from the state coffers.

Health Minister justifies deal

It is recalled that the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu justified the government’s decision to procure Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccines at a price which is almost twice its ex-factory price.

According to the minister, the government did its best but that all attempts to procure the vaccines at the ex-factory price of $10 per dose failed, leaving them with no option that to settle on a deal of $19 per dose for 3.4 million doses.

Mr. Agyeman-Manu said even at that price it is still difficult to get the vaccines as some deadlines agreed upon with the supplier have already been missed.

He explained several engagements were made, and that some letters of credit were expected to be issued.

Overpriced Sputnik V Vaccines scandal

It emerged that H.H Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, whose private office brokered the deal to sell Sputnik V vaccines to Ghana, has several years of ties with a man on the wanted list of Norwegian police.

Sheikh Al Maktoum is said to be friends with Umar Farooq Zahoor, who is said to be behind several organised crimes in Norway.

Umar Farooq is a Pakistani but grew up in Oslo.

Speaking on TV3‘s Midday Live on Thursday, June 10, Norwegian journalist Markus Tobiassen, who works with tabloid Vergens Gang, said there is suspicion Umar Farooq is behind the deal but the Sheikh is just fronting it.

According to him, there are reports that Umar Farooq was at the Kotoka International Airport with Sheikh Al Maktoum to meet officials of Ghana’s Ministry of Health for the 15,000 doses to be delivered as part of the deal.

Ghana stands shortchanged in the deal as a dose was agreed to be sold at $19 instead of the factory price of $10.

But the Ministry of Health says several factors including transportation and shipment went into the agreement, which even saw the price per dose beaten down from $25 to $19.

“This is the result of the cost build-up to the ex-factory price of US$10 per dose, taking into account land transportation, shipment, insurance, handling and special storage charges, as explained by the seller.

“These are the factors which led us to agree the final price of US$19 per dose,” the Ministry stressed in a statement dated Wednesday, June 9.

But Markus Tobiassen told TV3‘s Komla Adom that despite Sheikh Al Maktoum being a member of the Royal Family of the United Arab Emirates, his ties with Umar Farooq raise suspicions.

“[Umar Farooq] has been under several criminal prosecutions. He has been convicted of embezzlement several years ago and back in 2010 he was charged related to a big bank fraud case.”

He said though the Pakistani national denies the charges, he has been on the Norwegian police’s hunt for the past 10 years.

In 2015, then Minister of Power Dr Kwabena Donkor came under trouble for signing a $510 million deal with Umar Farooq.

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