NEW. Watch live television from Ghana plus the latest Ghanaian movies plus OBE TV.Dr Barfuor Adjei-Barwuah, Ghana's former Ambassador to Japan, on Monday said the allegation that he diverted US$125,000 meant for two public universities in Ghana was "malice-laden and unjustifiable".
At a press conference in Accra, Dr. Adjei-Barwuah said: "I have been unjustifiably attacked and regret the way everything in Ghana has been politicized."
Dr. Adjei-Barwuah who was also the High Commissioner to Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea during former President John Kufuor's administration, stated that in December 2001 when he took the ambassadorial responsibility, Ghana's economy was not a on sound footing.
Japan also withdrew a loan offer and suspended the non-project grants that supported the private sector.
"My charge," he said, was to "do all I could to have the Japanese government and the people renew their faith."
Dr. Adjei-Barwuah said he contacted Lotte, a leading chocolate manufacturer in Japan for support, adding that he capitalized on the more than 40 years experience of Lotte's Ghana Chocolate Bar as the largest selling product in Ghana and negotiated for assistance from the company.
According to him, Lotte agreed to monetary support to graduate students from the Ghanaian universities especially those pursuing courses in the areas of cocoa and chocolate industries.
Dr. Adjei-Barwuah noted that part of the programme included Lotte-sponsored internship package where sponsored students would be invited to work with the company for at least six months prior to their graduation.
"Lotte graciously agreed to these propositions and duly lodged US$25,000.00 with the Embassy on July 17, 2003," adding that the Vice Chancellors of both University of Ghana(UG) and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology(KNUST) including the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Cocobod were duly informed."
Dr. Adjei-Barwuah said to protect the donation, on December 20 2003 the amount was moved from the Embassy's Yen account to a property account as it was a dollar account.
He explained that when the internship date was fixed with Lotte as the second instalment of the scholarship, Lotte raised the issue of lack of any report and indication of action on the first instalment of the scholarship.
"I could also not offer any information on the students who were to come to Tokyo."
It was for this reason, Dr. Adjei-Barwuah said, the company decided to roll back the scheme and requested the return of the funding.
When the universities finally sent a letter to that effect in 2004 he said he wrote to them in letter dated November 17, 2004 that "the facility was no longer on the table."
He further explained that if the fund was permanently returned to Lotte, "Ghana's image as well as my credibility as the nation's representative were all at stake, there would never be the possibility of any beneficial cooperation between Ghana and the company."
"In returning the fund, I presented Lotte with a new proposition in which I wanted the company to give the funding to my charitable organisation to support lower level education," he said.
"As part of the agreement, the first three year's instalment would be spent on a basic school in his hometown- Parkoso School," he said.
Lotte, he said "had agreed and subsequently transferred the funds to my charity's accounts in Accra and the charity's account details were communicated to Lotte on July 30, 2004."
Dr. Adjei-Barwuah stressed that audit report on the matter was issued four years ago and the questions about the project were cleared.
He however, said the auditors held the view that since the first instalment of the fund was deposited in government account the money though returned to Lotte and later given to the charity should be put back into government account.
For the avoidance of being accused of taking government money in the future, Dr. Adjei-Barwuah said he was prepared to put the money in a government account on condition that the money would be spent on Parkoso School project because "that was the condition agreed with Lotte and I had to submit reports to that effect."
The auditors, he said on their return to Accra left a number with his wife as being the number of the account into which he was to transfer the funds.
"I certainly could not make the transfer on the strength of a long distance phone information given the nature of the issue," he noted.
He said the Ministry of Education had sent experts to visit Parkoso and assessed the repairs needed and submitted reports to that effect.
Dr. Adjei-Barwuah indicated that as at now, had four instalments of the fund, which stood, at $100,000.00, a figure, which contradicted the amount, quoted by the two newspapers.
He said the fund enabled Bonsafo Barwuah Foundation, the name of his charity foundation to build a six classroom block for the Parkoso School in the Kumasi Metropolitan Area in the Ashanti Region.
The Daily Graphic and the Enquirer in their front pages issue of October 7, 2009 published an audit report, which indicted Dr. Adjei- Barwuah of $125,000.00 scandal.
He was alleged to have transferred the amount meant to offer scholarship for some students of two public universities in Ghana into the account of his foundation Lotte-Bonsafo Scholarship Foundation.