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General News of Monday, 7 April 2003

Source: Business & Financial Times

Presidential jet mystery uncovered

A senior member of the Ghanaian Government has disclosed that the administration has uncovered the secrets surrounding the acquisition of the presidential jet, which will soon be made public.

The source according to a Business & Financial Times report, said substantial evidence has been unearthed to establish a wrong doing in the Gulf Stream deal and said government is seriously involved in discussions with the Attorney General and some international legal experts to execute its next line of action.

“The senior minister, John Henry Mensah confirmed the story when the B&FT contacted him, but declined to give any further details except to reaffirm the fact that, “government this time round is really in control of vital information to enable it take action.”

However, separate reports say government is preparing itself to engage in legal tussle with various parties involved in the deal though its main preoccupation would be to recover the huge sums of monies paid to the claimants of the Presidential Gulf Stream Jet as well as take decision to rid itself of the jet if it can prove the deal was fraudulent.”

The president has been criticised for traveling on chartered flights whilst the presidential jet which the country continues to pay for, lies there idle. Many political analysts have described the president’s decision very political.

As of April last year, government was expected to have made payments totaling over &5million for the lease of the jet and a further $5million is expected to be paid by the close of this year.

The amount represented accumulated debt of US$1.5 million recurrent every six months. By the close of this year, over $10million would have been paid. This is well above the price for an outright sale of the jet pegged at $9million a year ago.

The information in the hands of the government is also expected to clarify the roles of the HSBC and the Gulf Stream Savannah facility in the deal as well as establish the terms of the contract and the details of the negotiations that led to the acquisition of the G111 aircraft at a price alleged to be higher than the market value.

Almost 28 months ago, efforts by the Kufuor administration to unveil the origin of the jet and establish the reason for the high cost of the used aircraft have proved futile.

Analysts see the latest move as government’s last attempt to prove that its decision not to use the jet, which has been grounded for almost 30 months, makes financial sense.