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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Corruption and Kickback Scandal Nail NDC

An image-denting case stares the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the face, as a London Crown Court in the UK postponed preliminary hearing into a case in which a major British company, Mabey and Johnson, admitted paying bribes to government ministers under the Jerry John Rawlings administration between 1994 and 1999.

The unfolding case, which was adjourned after attracting a large turnout of members of the public, the press and representatives of the Ghana High Commission in London last Friday August 7, 2009, has no doubt put an extra strain on government lawyers at the Justice Ministry and Attorney-General’s Department. Presiding Judge Rivlin at the Crown Court number 1 at Southwark, UK, adjourned the case to Friday 25 September at 10.00 am. The case had been transferred from Westminster Magistrates Court following a hearing on July10, 2009 to the Crown Court because of its magnitude.

Of the 10 charges preferred against the British company under that country’s law, Mabey and Johnson entered a plea of guilty to three.The first charge, germane to Ghana, has it that between January 1st 1994 and 18th August 1999, certain directors, executives, employees and agents of the company conspired to offer corrupt payments to ministers, officials and agents of the then NDC government.

The bribe, the charge went on, was to facilitate the securing and reward for contracts from the Ghana Government. “Between the 1st day of January 1994 and 18th day of August 1999, Mabey and Johnson Limited conspired with some of its directors, executives, employees and agents to give or agree to give corrupt payments contrary to Section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 to Ministers, officials and other agents of the Government of Ghana as inducements to secure, or as rewards for having secured contracts from the Government of Ghana, known as “Priority Bridge Programme 1”, “Priority Bridge Programme 2” and “Feeder Roads Projects” for the supply of goods to the said Government of Ghana, contrary to Section 1 of Criminal Law Act 1977”, the charge sheet said.

Under the aforementioned contracts, Mabey and Johnson were allowed to supply relevant goods to the government of Ghana in the execution of a number of capital intensive projects which were predominantly donor-driven.The commission of the alleged acts of offering bribery as contained in the charge sheet was a breach of Section 1 of the Criminal Law Act 1977. Spearheading the case is the indomitable Serious Fraud Office of the UK. Although a preliminary hearing, the case has ignited a lot of interest among especially people with proclivity for corruption stories as they pertain to the developing world, particularly Africa.

Mabey and Johnson has the British law to beat in this epic case, as it is also charged with corruptibly paying an amount of three hundred and sixty three thousand pounds to the erstwhile Saddam Hussein’s regime between May 2001 and November 2002 with a similar story in Jamaica between 1993 and 2001. Mabey and Johnson is a possession of one of UK’s richest families whose reputation is certainly weathering tempestuous times with these charges facing them.The company’s bribery infamy is also traceable to the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Dominican Republic and Panama. Both Mabey and Johnson and the man, who was President of Ghana at the time of the alleged corruption, have a record of scowling at those they perceive to be engaged in financial misdemeanour.

In the case of the former, it is on record to have engaged in a litany of accusations against poor countries over corruption, ironically failing to take a position against local British companies and others who as it were feed it by paying bribes to win contracts, according to the Ghana Pundit, an online organization from who the foregone details were culled. Ex-President Jerry John Rawlings considers himself an anti-corruption crusader and even scorning the man he sponsored to become President in Ghana for not doing enough to have jailed, those he perceives as corrupt under the previous Kufuor regime.That Mabey and Johnson paid so much to his ministers and others, would definitely deal a terrible blow to his underbelly, especially as so-called investigations are ongoing against former President Kufuor ministers.

Source: peacefmonline.com

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