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General News of Saturday, 2 February 2013

Source: The Herald

US$80 Million Gold Exporter Arrested

The state security establishment has tracked down and arrested one of the men behind the US$80 million supposed gold bars recently seized at Istanbul-Turkey due to lack of documents, but the mystery surrounding the deal continue to deepen, with the shocking connivance of some corrupt state actors.

Peter Kofi Bedzrah (pictured), who is one of the owners of Omanye Gold Mining Limited at Achimota-Accra, which exported the so-called 1.5 ton gold onboard a detained cargo aircraft is now in the firm grip of the security agents, assisting them to unravel the business deal which also has a strong odor of a “419 gold scam”.

The US$80 million supposed gold bars, have now mysteriously changed into “thirty (30) boxes of mineral samples weighing 1,500kgs” with the Geological Survey Department interestingly saying they were “for laboratory analysis only and are of no commercial value”.

Details are sketchy, but The Herald sources within the state security apparatus, disclosed that Peter Kofi Bedzrah, who claims to be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Omanye Gold Mining Limited, was busted last Wednesday evening and has since been helping probe the deal which almost wrecked Ghana’s image.

Meanwhile, extra documents The Herald has laid hands on following last Wednesday’s publication continue to reveal that the US$80 million gold transaction has many things wrong about it with the collusion of some state officials at the Geological Survey Department and Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, hence Turkish detention of the mineral.

One of such documents, currently in the custody of The Herald, entitled “Certificate For Mineral Samples” revealed how the Geological Survey Department shockingly allowed Peter Kofi Bedzrah through Omanye Gold Mining Limited to send 1,500 kilogrammes of gold related substance claiming it was “for laboratory analysis only and are of no commercial value”.

The certificate was dated December 31, 2012 and signed for the director of the Geological Survey Department, Dr. T.K. Adu.

The certificate is among a list of 11 documents, hurriedly prepared and signed for Omanye Gold Mining Limited on December 31, 2012, by the Geological Survey Department, Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and SG-SSB Bank Limited to enable them haul the 30 boxes of mineral to Dubai.

The “Certificate For Mineral Samples” disclosed that Omanye Gold Mining Limited was “sending thirty (30) boxes containing mineral samples weighing 1,500kgs to Master Sara Turizm Import & Export San TIC STI”.

Peter Bedzrah, who represented Omanye Gold Mining Limited, provided the address of the buyers in Dubai as “No 305, 3rd Floor Dubai Pearl Building Bani Yas AQ, Deira, P.O. Box 13802, Dubai UAE” and specifically mentioned one “Mr. Valid Moradi Moghaddam” as the recipient.

The Geological Survey Department said that “these samples are for laboratory analysis only and are of no commercial value”. The certificate said the samples, which were inspected in the presence of Mr. Peter Bedzrah (CEO) were not under seal.

The certificate was copied to the Assistant Commissioner of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, the Chief Executive of Mineral Commission, the Deputy Director of Foreign Banking Officer (Receipt) and the CEO of the Omanye Mining Limited.

Many of the other documents revealed how state officials with the speed of light, on December 31, 2012 processed the necessary documentation for the Omanye Mining Limited to enable them export the so-called mineral samples.

Experts have said that the claim on the certificate that the 30 boxes “of minerals for laboratory analysis only and are of no commercial value” could be a clever means by the Geological Survey Department to outwit tax officials because the regulations mandates Bank of Ghana to collect tax from both the buyers and the sellers.

The absence of proper documentation on the said gold, the experts argued, is said to have accounted for the lie that the gold was on its way to Iran to settle Ghana’s bilateral transactions, leading to the Turkish officials seizing the consignment onboard the cargo aircraft chartered from Tripoli-Libya.

Earlier documents from the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and the Registrar-General’s Department linked, Omanye Gold Mining Limited, owned by Frederick Kojo Essumang and Peter Kofi Bedzra with Post Office Box, 293, Mile 7, Achimota, Accra as its business address, as the shippers of what was said to be gold bars onboard the chartered cargo flight.

A certain Mr. Mohadi with telephone number 0544799069 was also mentioned on a “Landing Clearance Request” to the GCAA as the person who chartered the aircraft from Libya on behalf of Omanye Gold Mining Limited. But his telephone has since been off.

Again it was discovered that the US$80 million supposed gold was not on its way to the Islamic Republic of Iran to pay off a bilateral transaction between the government of Ghana and the Iranian government as claimed by the Executive Director of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) think tank, Danquah Institute, Gabby Asare-Othere-Darko.

Details of the documents from the GCAA, revealed the name of the aircraft as USL Airlines Cargo with the address of the operators as UAS, HDQ, Post Office Box 54482, Dubai, U.A.E.

An agent by name John Ametame, made a “Landing Clearance Request” to the GCAA on December 27, 2012 on behalf of the charterer, Omanye Gold Mining Limited, to enable the airline to spend 72 hours here in Ghana before leaving for Turkey.

He identified the type of cargo onboard the aircraft as gold bars with date of arrival of the aircraft in Ghana given as December 28, 2012. The name of the pilot, his nationality as well as the other persons onboard the aircraft was not provided to the GCAA by the said John Ametame.

On that same day after the “Landing Clearance Request” was made by John Ametame on behalf of Omanye Gold Mining Limited, it was forwarded to the Ghana Air Force Headquarters for approval, which was subsequently given by one Squadron Leader Osei-Owusu also on behalf of the Director of Air Force Operations at Burma Camp-Accra.

Additional checks carried out at the Registrar General’s Department identified Omanye Gold Mining Limited’s authorized business as “mining” and “dealers in precious minerals and export”.

The company’s registration number at the Registrar General’s Department is CA-98,960. Frederick Kojo Essumang, one of the listed owners of the company has a residential address of House Number 15 Lane Osu-Accra with his occupation as Businessman/Technician.

Peter Kofi Bedra, the other listed owner of the company, has House Number TH/9 Tantra Hill Achimota-Accra as his residence, but shockingly has “businesswoman” as his occupation.

Again Frederick Kojo Essumang, was identified as the secretary of the Omanye Gold Mining Limited. Magsam & Associates with Post Office Box, AT 2430, Achimota, Accra as their address, has been listed as the auditors of the Omanye Gold Mining Limited.

Omanye Gold Mining Limited was registered at the Registrar General’s Department on Friday, December 9, 2011 by one Owusua A Ofori and given a certificate to commence business on Thursday, December, 22, 2011.

On January 19, 2013, Mehr News Agency (MNA), a private Iranian news agency, reported that Turkey had released a cargo plane full of Gold from Ghana “carrying Ghana’s commitment to Iran in gold.”

On January 2, 2013, Turkish authorities seized the 1.5 tonne of gold on a Turkish Airlines cargo plane bound for Dubai en route to Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport in Turkey. The Turkish authorities claim the gold lacked the necessary papers needed before it could be transported.

It was, however, realised that the information given to the authorities was not entirely true because nobody knew where the cargo originated from or where its destination was, even though the gold on board the plane bore Ghanaian seal.

After the seizure in Turkey, the Iranian Foreign Minister came to Ghana for a closed-door meeting with President Mahama on January 8, 2013. President Mahama’s next official assignment outside Africa was to Turkey. But that official trip and subsequent release of the gold-carrying aircraft has turned out to be coincidental and not an exercise for the release of the gold haul. More to come!

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