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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

‘I Took Cash from Baba Kamara’ -Sipa Yankey

The toppled Minister of health, Dr George Adjah-Sipa Yankey, has admitted for the first time that he financially benefitted from Mabey and Johnson (M&J), a United Kingdom(UK) based construction firm accused of bribing Ghanaians officials under the Jerry John Rawlings administration.Mabey and Johnson worked in the country in the 1990s during the era of ex-President Rawlings when President John Evans Atta mills was the vice President and Chairman of the country’s Economic Management Team.

Dr Sipa Yankey, then Director of Legal Services at the Finance Ministry, however explained that the money (£15,000) he took from the company was not a bribe but a gift freely offered him for a job well done.

The money was paid into his London account.On or about 29th October 1996, Amadu Seidu, who also resigned and was a Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Roads and Highways, received (£5000 in his Woolwich account held in St. Peter Port. Guernsey and Dr George Sipa Yankey received £10,000 in his Midland Bank account at Hill Street, London W1.

Dr Yankey, who was convicted over the Quality Grain scandal where an American woman was given over $20 million to grow rice, told Hello FM in Kumasi on Saturday after his resignation that he was approached to do an arbitration work when the M&J Directors in the UM had problems with their local agent, Danny Ofori-Atta of NDC/EGLE party.

According to the ex-convict, Baba Kamara, a former Deputy National Treasurer of the NDC and High Commissioner designate to Nigeria who was the new local agent of M&J in Ghana, together with other officials, approached him for the arbitration work, an exercise he voluntarily agreed to do without a fee while serving at a ministry that was dealing with the corrupt British firm.The immediate past Health Minister said because the problem was so huge to the extent that it nearly halted the work of the company, he had to spend a number of sleepless nights working around the clock to ensure that the dispute was amicably settled.

The deposed minister stated that the company was excited when he successfully resolved the impasse and therefore wanted to show appreciation for his efforts by offering him money. Dr Yankey noted that because he did not charge any fee before undertaking the exercise and that he did the work with a view to reviving the company, he severally rejected the offer.

He said at one point, Baba Kamara and some officials of the company came to his office and entreated him to accept something small for them as appropriate for his service, but he sternly refused.According to him, Baba Kamara following up to his residence one weekend and pleaded with him to accept the offer and that if he would not personally use the money, he could donate it to charity.

He disclosed that Baba Kamara, after successfully pleading with him to accept the offer, then asked for his bank account which he readily gave to him for onward depositing of the money.Daily Guide learnt that an amount of £15,000 which was Dr Yankey’s share of the Mabey and Johnson booty, was paid into his foreign account in the UK.Ironically, Dr Yankey who was forced by President Mills to resign over the weekend, stressed that he had never received bribe and that he comes from a decent family whose member would not stoop so low in that regard.

He said if he would ever be interested in receiving bribes, he would go for bigger offers and not £15,000.Emphasizing that he was a well-to-do man who did not live on bribes, he noted that he had a son who was a cardio surgeon at the New York University Hospital in the United States and a daughter who was a designer in Canada.According to him, immediately he assumed office as Minister of health in February this year, his son asked him to forfeit his salary and that he was ready to pay him $10,000 a month. Against this background, Dr Yankey noted that he had never taken his salary since he assumed office and that instead of even living in a government bungalow, he was rather staying at his own residence.

He accused the New Patriotic Party (NPP) of masterminding the Mabey and Johnson bribery scandal that led to his overthrow from office, indicating that his excellent performance in office was a threat to the NPP.Stressing that he would defiantly be back in government to serve the nation, Dr Yankey said he was ready to do anything possible to clear his name even if he had to travel to the UK to fight his case. He passionately appealed to president Mills to appoint Dr Benjamin Kumbuor, Deputy Minister of health as his replacement, pointing out that the legal luminary was a fine brain who could easily fill the vacuum his overthrow had created at the ministry.

Meanwhile, Francis Emile Short, Commissioner of human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), HAS TOLD Kessben FM in Kumasi that his outfit is ready to investigate the alleged bribery scandal involving some ministers of state and other government officials.He said even before President Mills referred the matter to them, his outfit had already contacted the British High Commission for some information regarding the issue so that they could investigate the matter.

Source:Daily Guide

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