Business News of Thursday, 7 February 2013

Source: Daily Guide

Rot At State Housing

Tongues are wagging at the nation’s premier housing company, State Housing Company (SHC) over the payment of huge sums of money and the lease of part of its head office lands to supposed investors.

DAILY GUIDE has uncovered a massive scheme by some top officials of the company to rip off this once prized national asset.

This involves a virtual giveaway of 2.31 acres of industrial land located at the company’s head office close to the STC yard in Accra to a Lebanese company, SDTM Company Limited, for a paltry amount of GH¢1,000 per month, spanning a period of 20 years, with an option of an additional 15 years’ renewal after the expiration of the first lease agreement.

For the period of 20 years that SDTM would be occupying the prime area, which it intends to use for the construction of a warehouse and an office complex, it has been asked to pay a paltry amount of GH¢240,000 (¢2.4billion) at a yearly rate of GH¢12,000.

In spite of the strategic location of this industrial land, SDTM was made to pay goodwill of only GH¢100,000.

This is what has sparked agitation among staff of the SHC who feel they are being shortchanged.

Management of the company is not forthcoming with information.

The Managing Director of SHC, Mark Nii Akwei Ankrah, declined to comment when contacted, referring DAILY GUIDE to its legal officer, Kwame Waja.

But attempts to speak with Mr Waja also proved unsuccessful since he failed to answer several calls to his phone in spite of an agreement to speak to the issues at stake, after they were put to him.

Documents in possession of DAILY GUIDE indicate that management of the state-run company, under the leadership of Mark Nii Akwei Ankrah, has also paid a total amount of GH¢573,720 to Kiran Group in respect of a supposed regeneration project at one of the company’s estates located at Kaneshie in Accra, without recourse to the Board of Directors for approval or otherwise.

At the time of making this payment, an Accra High Court had placed an injunction on the regeneration project at Kaneshie following a suit filed by residents of the estate facility who had not been consulted on the intended project.

This payment also did not go through the company’s internal control procedures.

This is evident in a memo written by the General Manager for Operations, Kwabena Sabby, to Managing Director Mark Ankrah in which the Chief Internal Auditor, Theophilus Glover Addy demanded a formal agreement with the Kiran Group.

However, the MD of SHC side-stepped the advise of the Chief Internal Auditor and proceeded to instruct the General Manager in charge of Finance and Administration, Isaac Okpoti Nai, to process the payment in two tranches; GH¢200,000 on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 and GH¢373,720 on Friday, September 7, 2012 respectively.

Interestingly, this payment was made in two separate hand-written receipts from an official of the Kiran Group as acknowledged in a memo from the MD to the GM on August 31, 2012.

Meanwhile, at a staff durbar held in November last year, the MD reportedly denied ever paying any such money to the Kiran Group when the issue was raised.

However, this payment was made at a time the company had received a lump sum of almost GH¢1.9million from the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) for land charges at Adenta.