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Opinions of Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Columnist: Tawiah, Francis

Where Is The $80 million Gold From Ghana Seized In Turkey?

Turkey stopped cargo freight flier with Gold from Ghana. Turkey is gradually becoming the busiest hub for gold shipments to the Middle East. The Turkish authorities gave four days in Istanbul to a freighter laden with 1.5 tons (worth $80 million) of gold from Ghana. The plane landed around early January at the airport Ataturk in Istanbul and was arrested for four days with 1.5 tons of gold on board by the authorities.

The Turkish fleet origin, an Airbus A300, cargo aircraft was chartered for transporting Gold from Ghana to Dubai. Other media reported that the machine had come from Algeria. For safety reasons, the Turkish authorities (customs) sealed the aircraft, since the crew had no genuine documents covering their freight on board, they were requested by the Turkish authorities to present required requisite documents.

Not quiet long ago, the Turkish Government was repeatedly criticised and advised from the international community to be watchdogs since large quantities of gold from Turkey in the Islamic Republic were delivered in the past few months despite an international embargo against the Iran.

The Geological Survey Department (GSD) has absolved itself from blame in the on-ongoing investigations into the seizure of an aircraft in Istanbul, Turkey, allegedly carrying 1.5 tonnes (worth $80 million) of gold originating from Ghana and destined for the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The GSD Director, John Agyei Duodu insists his outfit only carried out laboratory analysis on mineral samples and not on gold bars, when speaking to Peacefmonline.com in an interview. The Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) carried investigation into how a shipment described as mineral samples could turn to gold bullion. It will be recalled that sections of the media reported on the supposed gold bars seized at Istanbul-Turkey due to lack of documents. It was widely conjectured that the said shipment was payment by Ghana government in respect of some financial transaction with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Government, in two separate responses, denied any involvement in the use of gold to settle any transaction with the Government of Iran. Following that denial, President John Dramani Mahama directed that the matter be investigated by the security agencies. Even though president John Dramani Mahama had to rush to Turkey, we were later told he went there to commission Ghana Embassy in Istanbul/Turkey.

Before the BNI could come out with its initial findings, sections of the media published that the US$80 million supposed gold bars, have mysteriously changed into thirty (30) boxes of mineral samples weighing 1,500kgs.

The publication further accused state officials at the GSD and Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority of collusion for the detained Gold from Ghana. The publications also questioned why and how state officials at the GSD, Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and SG-SSB Bank Limited, with the speed of light, hurriedly prepared and signed for "Omanye" Gold Mining Limited, the company at the centre of the whole DEAL on December 31, 2012, to enable them haul the 30 boxes of so-called mineral samples to Dubai.

The publications further sought to malign the integrity of the GSDsaying 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, according to the publication citing experts' opinion, 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 on board the cargo aircraft chartered from Tripoli-Libya.

Now, figures here, figures there, investigations yesterday, investigations today and investigations tomorrow, fact and the question is! where is the 1,5 tonnes of the Ghanaian Gold, worth $80 million which was temporarily confiscated in Turkey? Was is really a DEAL meant to settle (Ghana) debt in Iran or where ever, a THEFT or an act of CORRUPTION?

FRANCIS TAWIAH (Duisburg - Germany)

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