General News of Thursday, 22 November 2012

Source: Ghana Palaver

Nana Addo, Jake entangled in illegal divestiture scandal

A quiet scandal is brewing towards the camp of New Patriotic Party (NPP) flagbearer Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo-Addo and his party chairman Jake Okanta Obetsebi-Lamptey.
The two have been cited as those who in 2002 unilaterally sold government interest in the then Ambassador Hotel Limited (AHL) to Kingdom Holdings Limited/ Mövenpick Hotels in circumvention of the divestiture laws of Ghana.
“Our information is that Jake Obetsebi Lamptey and NANA Akufo Addo, in their official capacities transferred the assets of AHL to Kingdom Investments Limited/ Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel (the present occupants of the hotel premises),” the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) stated in a communication February last year.
The unfolding events threatens to pull government of Ghana into yet another quagmire of judgment/settlement debt issue as a result of acts of commission and omission of the two former ministers of state under the J.A Kuffuor led NPP government
In the mean time, the search for the documents covering the deal including contracts signed on between Mövenpick and the governments of Ghana, on behalf of the good people of Ghana are nowhere to be found.
In a letter dated February 21, 2011 the Executive Secretary of the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) requested the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) to carry out an investigation into the establish whether the present owners paid for the enhanced value of the then Ambassadors Hotel, whom it was paid to and who the terms and conditions under which ownership was devolved to Mövenpick .
One of the original partners in the AHL deal with government, Energo Projekt (E.P) Ghana Ltd has petitioned the Attorney General over the non-payment of their claim for the reconstruction and redevelopment of Ambassador Hotel.
It would be recalled that in 1992, the government entered into a Joint Venture Agreement with Samed Associated Bureau to rehabilitate the Ambassador Hotel with the government’s equity of 40 percent represented by the assets of Ambassador Hotel, whilst Samed’s equity of 60 percent consisted of financing the rehabilitation of the hotel.
Having spent about 7.75 million dollars on the project, Samed decided in 1994 to sell its interest to Grace Investments Ltd, as it was no longer interested in the project.
Having paid Samed ltd 1.25 million US dollars, Grace Investments ltd invited the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) into the venture, with SSNIT paying 3.25 million to Samed and thereby enhancing its equity in the joint venture which became known from then on as Ambassador Hotel Limited (AHL).
AHL therefore commissioned various contractors including EP Ghana limited to carry out various rehabilitation works for which they now claim payment.
The shareholding structure before the sale to Mövenpick was 57 percent for SSNIT, 27 percent for Government of Ghana, 11 percent for Ghana Reinsurance and five percent for Grace Investments Ltd.
The petitioners, EP Ghana ltd,who constructed the Ghana International Conference Centre around 1991 for the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) Conference in Ghana petitioned the Attorney Generals Department on December 10 2010 to retrieve monies due them in the award of contract to rehabilitate the Ambassador Hotel.
It is however clear that the sale of government shares in Ambassador Hotel was done in disregard for the divestiture laws of Ghana, and as to whether the deal ever went to parliament, one cannot tell, while the documents covering this transaction cannot be traced in any government department.

The Government of Ghana set up the DIC in 1993, PNDC (PNDC Law 326) to implement and execute ALL (caps ours) government policies in respect of divestiture programs.

The DIC is mandated to plan, monitor, coordinate and evaluate all divestitures;
to arrange for the effective communication of government policies and objectives for any divestiture; and to develop criteria for the selection of enterprises to be divested and assume responsibility for preparing such enterprises for divestiture.

It is also mandated to make appropriate consultations for successful processing of all divestiture programmes, and to ensure consistency in procedures for divestiture, in particular with regard to valuation, invitation for bids, and negotiation of sales and settlement of account.

However this is the third classical case of under the Kuffuor –led NPP government when the divestiture law was blatantly circumvented in the divestiture of state assets.
It would be recalled that the same NPP government sold Ghana’s shares in the Westell limited to Zain and Ghana Telecom to Vodafone in 2007/2008.