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General News of Monday, 30 July 2007

Source: GYE NYAME CONCORD

Rawlings dares Kufuor, Baako and NPP


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PROVE I'M CORRUPT OR SHUT UP ...Over the Scancem/Ghacem bribery case

The wife of ex-President Jerry John Rawlings and President of the 31st December Women's Movement, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, has denied allegations that a Norwegian cement company, SCANCEM, paid millions of United States dollars as bribes to them (SCANCEM) to gain monopoly in the cement business in the country.

She said it is also not true that she owns any account in an offshore Bank and that she has never done any business with Tor Egil Kjelsaas, the man standing trial for stealing at the centre of the Asker and Baerum High Court case in Norway.

Her husband and former President has equally dared the ruling Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration to use all means within its powers to prove the allegation or let his name rest in peace over the scandal.

"Tell Ghanaians, tell President Kufuor, tell the NPP Government, that at last they have got what they have been looking for so long: some information that shows that I have stolen and hidden money, and that Jerry Rawlings is corrupt. Tell the President to get his Attorney General and all experts and financial wizards, and use all the diplomatic and political leverage that it has at its disposal, to investigate these allegations and prove that I am corrupt. And when they are ready, I will be ready too," noted Rawlings in a statement released through his lawyer, Mr. Tony Lithur yesterday.

Speaking on JOY FM yesterday, the former first Lady denied having knowledge of any business transaction between SCANCEM and former PNDC government advisor, Mr Paul Victor Obeng, stressing that if PV did a job for them (SCANCEM), then it is PV's own palaver.

A report in the April 21-22 2007 issue of the mass circulation Norwegian magazine, DN Magasinet, on an ongoing case in the Asker and Baerum High Court case revealed that the Norwegian cement company has accused one of its employees, Tor Egil Kjelsaas, of stealing.

According to the article published by the Norwegian Magazine in April this year, titled, "Gray Cement - Black Money", proceedings from the court indicate that Kjelsaas claimed to have bribed public officials at the highest levels in Ghana, Togo and Nigeria.

Kjelsaas, in his defence, is alleged to have told the court that he paid various sums of monies as bribes to very high ranking members of government in Ghana, Togo and Nigeria with the main aim of ensuring that SCANCEM maintained its monopoly over cement production and distribution in these countries.

He is reported to have told the court that he paid ex-President Rawlings, his wife Nana Konadu and former PNDC/NDC No 2 man, P. V. Obeng, various bribes running into millions of dollars using two accounts which were stuffed with huge sums of US dollars.

It said between 1993 and 1998, a total of US$1,690,000 was transferred to the Barclays Bank account and a total of US$2,460,000 was also paid into the Unibank account during the same period.

The proceedings showed that SCANCEM management believed that the money deposited in the Barclays Bank account went to Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, and that of the Unibank went to Mr P V Obeng, then the special advisor to Rawlings' PNDC regime.

Testifying in Court, one Gerhard Heilberg, a SCANCEM official based in Ghana at the time, said Rawlings and his wife were among those who received money from SCANCEM.

A testimony by former SCANCEM Finance Chief, G. Jacobsen, also said of bribery in Ghana and Africa: "Cash was a practical way of doing it".

The report also quoted one Tor Nygarrd, a management staff of SCANCEM of saying that they paid out monies to politicians, the party s well as port officials.

Meanwhile, this paper has sighted a report authored by one of the lawyers of the former first family, Mr. Tony Lithur, saying in part that "our clients had never at any time asked for or received any monies whether directly or indirectly from Scancem in order to further their corporate objectives".

He quoted former President Rawlings as stating that the underlying yardsticks that informed the June 4, 1979 uprising that brought him to power, were integrity, dislike for corruption and the desire to improve the welfare of the ordinary Ghanaian, and that those yardsticks were his guide throughout his almost two decades in power.

The former president says further that he has had occasion to throw a challenge to the present government and to the world intelligence community to unearth any bank account that they may discover belonging to him into which he has paid stolen money.

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