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Opinions of Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Columnist: Aquaye, Gloria

Political Witch Hunting and Corporate Harassment


Gloria Aquaye, Petroleum Consultant, Oslo, Norway

The poisoning of the Ghanaian business environment continues unabated. Today, locally and around the world, the once vibrant business potential of Ghana has been replaced by a fear amongst entrepreneurs that they invest in Ghana at their own peril. You name a successful corporation in Ghana today, and chances are that it has faced the wrath of the NDC government. This anti-business stance, buoyed by a cynical notion that success in business can only be a result of corrupt practices, has been the driving force behind pure political witch hunting of companies including Norway’s Aker Group, ExxonMobil, Vodafone, Trasaco Realty, Accra Mall, EO Group and others using classical communist tactics. The life blood of every nation’s development is foreign investments; even United States, China and other major players in the international scene depend on them. With the current approach, it would not be long before Ghana becomes a toxic investment destination.

There is a clear and well established pattern whereby some diehards within the NDC government have been leaking Ghana's State secrets involving oil and gas international agreements to the Enquirer Newspaper (privately owned by NDC financier Eddie Annan and edited by unprincipled Raymond Archer). The NDC belief is consistent with the communist adage that "IF YOU KEEP REPEATING LIES, PEOPLE WILL ACTUALLY BELIEVE THEM TO BE THE TRUTH." Once the Enquirer gets these confidential pieces of information, it twists the facts and adds fabrications. The resulting concoction of innuendo and blatant lies will then appear on its front pages as well as on GHANAWEB on a weekly basis for the consumption of unsuspecting international audience.

The Enquirer has no credibility in Ghana due to its shamelessly low standards. No wonder the paper and its unprincipled editor have been the subjects of multiple indictments resulting in court judgments against them. And as of result of these intentional leakages from the government, reasonable Ghanaians do NOT believe the Attorney General when she says someone stole charge documents from her office. How did state secrets get in the hands of Raymond Archer to maintain such consistency in publishing all details of previous charges and investigative findings in the past one year in a serialized fashion since the NDC came to power?

There is little doubt that the investigation of the EO Group is a pure political witch hunt as the NDC government, on assumption of office, removed most of the experienced professionals at the Police CID and replaced them with NDC Political fanatics. Today the CID committee investigating what many call a "wild goose chase" comprises Tsatsu Tsikata protégés such as Capt Rtd Assasie-Gyimah, Kwaku Monney, Duke Amannianpong and Mr Afeku, a group that operates without regard to objectivity. This committee is anything but neutral. Even faced with a comprehensive report by Anadarko and its team of 50 lawyers that exonerated the EO Group, this committee continues to expend valuable state resources to look for what simply does not exist.

So after over two years of exclusive focus on one company, here is what we know:

1. Prior to the government’s own investigation, Anadarko had, since 2007 after the discovery of oil, spent over $2.5 million and over two years during which the Houston based company employed the services of 50 attorneys to investigate the EO Group. After examining more than 8 million pieces of documents, one million emails, all company and personal bank records, computer hard drives, and tax records, the resulting comprehensive report completely exonerated the EO Group.

2. The NDC’s idea of a serious investigation is to eliminate experienced investigators at the Police CID and replace them with political fanatics who are known Tsikata protégés, and some of whom, like Duke Amaniampong (a proud owner of four bankrupt companies and a $2.7 million mortgage), are pursuing the investigation merely to line up their own pockets. These people inwardly know there is no realistic hope of finding any credible evidence against the EO Group yet they pursue for unknown reasons.

3. There is an intercepted email from Tsikata to Duke Amaniampong persuading the bankrupt San Francisco lawyer to keep digging until he finds something on the EO Group. About eight months at $25,000 per month later, Amaniampong has yet to come up with any conclusive evidence against the EO Group.

4. At the same time, another indigenous company, Sabre Oil and Gas owned by Kofi Esun, which signed a similar agreement but for 4% of Tullow’s block, (EO had 3.5% of Kosmos’) is doing business unperturbed. You may recall that one of the NDC’s major bones of contention was that the EO Group had to have received a "sweetheart deal" if it received 3.5% and Ghana received "10%." The last time I checked, 4% was larger than 3.5%. It is noteworthy that we in the business do not have any issues with Sabre’s 4%. But this smacks of double standard.

5. Even with the facts such as the actual dated Petroleum Agreements at their disposal, these fanatics continue to use a disgraced editor and his tabloid newspaper to peddle lies repeatedly with the hope of swaying public opinion. When pressure mounted on the Attorney General to send the case for prosecution, her lame excuse was that the charge sheet had been stolen.

Although the Attorney General insists that there is no political witch hunting, these are undisputable facts, and they underline the objective of a government out to destroy business endeavors begun under the previous administration for political expediency. Now majority of Ghanaians as well as the international community has concluded beyond doubt that this anti-business stance by the government is politically motivated. The politics of VEGEANCE has influenced illegal leakages of state secrets to a tabloid that in turn have compromised the whole legal process. There thus cannot be any fair judicial outcome