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General News of Tuesday, 16 January 2018


'This is not a fishing expedition' - Foundation refuses to release bank details

Embattled event organisers, Millennium Excellence Foundation has refused to provide a bank statement to a parliamentary committee investigating claims it used the presidency to raise money for an expatriate awards dinner last December.

Counsel for the Foundation Charles Zwennes said the request from a member of the committee and MP for Bolga East, Dominic Ayine is not supported by the terms of reference set out by Parliament.

"I don't think this is relevant and we are not prepared to do so" he told the five-member committee probing the cash-for-seat allegations.

The request for financial details was made after Ashim Morton revealed the Foundation received 2,367,426 cedis from Ministry of Trade and Industry.

He also stated the Foundation spent 40,000 cedis on the event but clarified this figure was only a part of the expenditure incurred.

The Bolgatanga East MP requested for further details of the bank statement, stressing the monies it received from the Ministry came out of a public account and must be of interest to the public.

"I insist that we need to have evidence of monies received... we are entitled to know where the money went", the NDC MP said.

The Foundation's lawyer Zwennes quickly intervened with an explanation that the Foundation has confidentiality agreements with several charities and organisations who put money into the Foundation.

"So we can't supply you with bank statements", he maintained.

"I don't believe this was intended to be a fishing expedition", he replied and expressed concern that the request could lead to an "interminable forest research".

He said the terms of reference relate to the specific allegations of cash for seats and claims that the Foundation extorted monies from sponsors.

"I fail to see the relevance of the internal accounts of the Foundation to this particular inquiry"

He said if the Committee was still interested, the MP could access any further bank details from the Trades ministry because the Foundation received the monies from the ministry.

The Ministry collected cheques from sponsors on behalf of the Foundation to ensure accountability and also allay potential fears from sponsors but this suggestion did not also go down well with Ayine.

In a compromise to the request, the lawyer offered to provide only specific dates of payments and amounts it received from the Ministry in respect of the cash for seat scandal.

"To that extent, we can certainly indulge the committee," Mr. Zwennes said.