General News of Friday, 3 August 2007

Source: Crusading Guide

Ex-SCANCEM top shot defends PV

We Signed Consultancy Contract With His Company In Early 1997! – He Reveals

Mr. Jacobsen, one of the former financial bosses of SCANCEM in a telephone conversation with the Editor-in-Chief of The Crusading GUIDE, Kweku Baako Jnr., yesterday corroborated claims by Mr. P.V. Obeng, one time Presidential Adviser to Mr. Rawlings’ government of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), that he (P.V. Obeng) had entered into a Consultancy Agreement with SCANCEM in early 1997, after he (PV) had left public office.

According to him, SCANCEM, a Norwegian cement manufacturing company, in early 1997 signed a consultancy agreement with Mr. Obeng’s consultancy company.

“Mr. P.V. Obeng has asked me to confirm that I did infact arrange and sign a consultancy agreement with him in 1997. That agreement was signed in early 1997 though I can’t remember the exact month but I can only confirm that the information is correct”, disclosed he.

He, however, declined to react to further questions on the on-going case of bribery allegations by some ex- SCANCEM officials against Mr. and Mrs. Rawlings and Mr. Obeng in a court in Norway.

Mr. Jacobsen, on the basis that he was no longer in SCANCEM’s employment also refused to answer questions on a house belonging to Mr. Obeng, that was rented out to SCANCEM in Tema.

“The former head of finance, Per Gerhard Jacobsen, together with Tor Egil Kjelsaas, had authorised the majority of the payments to banks in Luxembourg and Switzerland. Jacobsen did not like the thought of a public trial with Kjelsaas where the subject was major bribes. In the autumn of 2005, he traveled to the Heidelberg group’s head office where he met with the group’s Chairman of the Board and expressed how invidious such legal proceedings would be”, stated a Norwegian newspaper that covered the court proceedings.

Mr. Paul Victor Obeng has since vehemently denied reports that he had conceded taking money from SCANCEM as consultancy payments while in office.

“I wish to state here and now quite categorically that I have never ever made any admissions or any statement, to any person, in whatever shape or form which can even be remotely interpreted as an admission of receipts of any sums of money as consultancy payments from SCANCEM whilst in public office. Indeed, I could not have made any admissions to matters which simply did not happen”, Mr. Obeng stressed.

According to him, his brief interaction with a reporter from The Crusading GUIDE (which was hampered by poor connection) on the SCANCEM court matter and the subsequent publication of the interaction, was being misinterpreted as an admission that he received millions of dollars for consultancy payments.

According to Mr. Obeng, he had told the said reporter that his “company did some consulting work for the Norwegian Company SCANCEM, AFTER I LEFT PUBLIC OFFICE IN DECEMBER 1996 and had been paid for its services but that the total sum paid cannot be in any way compared to the substantial payments made to the Bank account I know nothing about”.

He noted that just as he ended his answer on the lack of knowledge of “Bank accounts”, the line went off, and unfortunately his interviewer never called back, and since he (Obeng) “did not know his telephone number I could not call either to complete the account of any company’s relationship with SCANCEM”.

Clarifying the Weekend Crusading GUIDE’s report that he admitted having rendered consultancy services to SCANCEM for which he received payment while in office, Mr. Obeng said he left his position in public office in December 1996 and in 1998 formed a consultancy firm.

He said SCANCEM entered a retainer agreement with his company in mid-1998; this agreement, however, expired in December 2006.

“I reiterate for the record that I did not work as a consultant for SCANCEM and SCANCEM never engaged me to work for them in any manner while in public office”, said Mr. Obeng, stressing that his company did some consulting working for SCANCEM after he had left public office and that “the contract could not be older than my consultancy company”.

He affirmed that he knew nothing about some payments made to him as reported by the Weekend Crusading GUIDE, by officials of SCANCEM.

“I know nothing of the alleged payments whatsoever and certainly nothing about the alleged Bank accounts in Switzerland or elsewhere”, P.V. Obeng underscored.

He indicated that it would have been wrong if he had worked for SCANCEM while in office, adding that being aware of the implications involved, he never even accepted service on the board of any company.

P.V. Obeng said given the gravity of the publications made against him, he had reported them (publications) to his lawyer for immediate action in order to redeem “the damage done to my image and reputation and certainly to assert the true state of affairs and specifically to circulate this matter to the Ghanaian Press”.

He promised to return to Ghana from London where he is currently, to pursue the matter further.

The Weekend Crusading GUIDE last Friday, July 20, 2007, carried a story on P.V. Obeng as having in an interview, admitted receiving money from SCANCEM in the mid-1990s for consultancy services he rendered to it.

Read the Weekend Crusading GUIDE this Friday for the full text of the rejoinder Mr. Obeng wrote to the media.