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Opinions of Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Columnist: Eshun, Emmanuel

Tsatsu AND STRATOIL – Many Unanswered Questions

Emmanuel Eshun

On January 23, I published an article about Tsatsu Tsikata being a clear and present danger to Ghana. Many thought I was making things up about an honorable man. Today, all of Ghana is beginning to know what kind of man he really is. Just like the communists that he grew up adoring, his immediate reaction to documented evidence of his alleged bribery scheme shrouded in an undeniable conflict of interest was to flatly deny any wrong doing. He claims it was a “legitimate business” dealing. Then to ensure that no more secrets are disclosed, he threatens lawsuit at those who may publish further disclosures. Well, until Ghanaians find answers to the following questions, Tsatsu will not, and cannot silence anyone. The Gestapo days of Ghana are long gone.

Question One: How many companies in the world does Tsikata know that would sign a consultation agreement with a man being tried for causing financial loss to the state, more so when the business environment is being presided over by the government that is prosecuting him? So Modec wants the contract to build the FPSO for the Jubilee Field. It is July 2008 and NPP is in power. The partners in the Jubilee Field consists of Kosmos, Tullow (Operator), Anadarko, Sabre, and EO Group. And all of them needed the magical consultation services provided by none other than Tsatsu’s Stratoil. Just what kind of fools does Tsatsu take Ghanaians for? Obviously the Special Advisor to the President on Energy Matters back dated his contract to the famous June 4th, a date that he would not forget. That is why the payments did not start flowing until March 31, 2009.

Question Two: Tsatsu registered Stratoil in the British Virgin Islands. For a foreign company to do business at that level in Ghana, it had to have been registered in Ghana at least a year before. It also has to show a three year financial activity. Finally it has to be registered to do business with GNPC if its area of business is in the energy sector. There is no Ghanaian subsidiary of Stratoil. It is impossible to show a three year financial activity for a company registered only a year and a half ago, and there is no evidence at the business registry of Stratoil having been registered in Ghana at all. So how did Tsatsu pull this “magic” off?

Question Three: If it was a legitimate business dealing by a legitimate company, why is there no record of taxes paid on the $750,000 collected on March 31, 2009, on the $750,000 collected on July 24, 2009 (one week after the Plan Of Development was signed), and the $500,000 collected on April 30, 2010 (the very day the FPSO was commissioned in Singapore)? This is supposedly a consultation agreement signed between a Japanese company and Stratoil regarding the award of FPSO to operate in Ghana. Somewhere Ghana’s Internal Revenue Services should be paid. Why has the taxes not been paid?

When our Black Stars were given their reward for their outstanding performance in the just ended World Cup in South Africa, Ghanaians were quick to point out their tax liabilities. Tsatsu Tsikata derived his so-called “consultation fees” in Ghana for services performed in Ghana. If the amount of $2 million was not paid under the table, why is it that Mr. Ablor Quarcoo the IRS Commissioner has not noticed it to levy a tax on it? And Mr. Tsikata himself has committed a crime of tax evasion for not disclosing the earnings in order to be taxed.

Question Four: Why is it that Tsatsu Tsikata prefers to deal with companies originating from countries with no stringent laws against corrupt practices by their companies operating abroad such as Modec of Japan, CNOOC of China, Oando of Nigeria, and so on? Could Tsatsu and these companies be the proverbial “birds of the same feathers?”

Question Five: Whilst some hardworking men and women at GNPC were working for the Ghana oil industry he was laughing all the way to the bank with his $5 million. Whilst the MPs of the Parliamentary committee on Energy were busy safeguarding the interest of Ghana Tsatsu was laughing all the way to the bank with $5 million. Whilst the NDC foot soldiers were crisscrossing the country in support to the party Tsatsu was waiting in the wings for the food to be cooked so that he can step in and steal the lion’s share. The foot soldiers are known for dealing with their own when they do not account for their actions. Where are they when one needs them to hold someone accountable?

Could this be what president Rawlings was referring to when he proclaimed “greedy bastards?”

Until Tsatsu Tsikata answers these questions to the satisfaction of Ghanaians, the IRS shall be placed on notice to impose the necessary tax on his “consultation fees.” To World Bank’s IFC, Ghanaians will not sit back and allow you to merely sweep these serious allegations under the rug. We have agents closely monitoring how you execute this investigation. Finally, what Ghana needs is the full interpretation and implementation of the laws.