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Friday, October 16, 2009

M&J Directors: We Paid No Bribes

Directors of Mabey and Johnson, who were at post at the time the company constructed bridges in Ghana have denied ever paying bribes to officials. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) of the United Kingdom had stated in its Opening Notes to the Southwark Court that new directors of Mabey and Johnson have admitted paying bribes to Ghanaian officials in order to win contracts.

Information trickling from the UK indicates that the old directors are set to make a formal complaint to the Crown Prosecution Service over what they call the “unfair manner SFO had conducted investigations into the activities of Mabey and Johnson.”

“What they are saying is that the SFO did not interrogate them when investigations were being conducted.

“Only the new directors who were questioned admitted paying bribes. “These people were not at post then, how would they have confirmed that indeed bribes were paid?” a source close to the old directors fumed.

The source further said that the old directors have tasked their lawyers to explore the appropriate legal remedies in order to clear their name.

Under current legal regimes world wide, both the giver and the receiver of bribes are all guilty and it is still a misery to many why the UK SFO chose to hide the identity of Mabey &Johnson directors who allegedly gave the bribes. Only the names of Ghanaian officials including Dr Sepa Yankey, Mr Seidu, Dr Ato Quarshie and Baba Kamara were mentioned as the alleged receivers of bribes. Resigned Minister of Health Dr Sepa Yankey is also contesting the way the UK SFO had handled things.

Insisting he was innocent and never received any bribes, Dr Sepa Yankey said it would have been proper if the SFO had queried him over the issue.

In a press statement, he adduced that a fundamental principle of law where accused persons should have the chance to defend themselves was breached in the SFO investigations.

Dr Sepa Yankey, a law lecturer, said he would await the investigations of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) into the matter. He was voted by some keen Ghanaian media followers as the best Minister in the Mills government.

Dr Sepa Yankey was instrumental in resolving the concerns of health workers recently, a development that averted a nationwide industrial strike which would have paralyzed the health delivery system.

The man, said to be a key ally of President Mills, recently set record when he defied all odds to pay a working visit to the Bechem Hospital to acquaint himself first-hand with the health problems prevailing at the health post dear to many who dwell in the Brong Ahafo region. Staff at the Hospital expressed gratitude for his visit and urged other policy makers and implementers to emulate his shinning example. This feat has earned him the accolade for being the first Health Minister to visit Bechem hospital since its establishment over forty-five years ago. The former health minister has also put into motion a policy to decongest the major hospitals so that pregnant women will not be sleeping on bare floors. The Mabey and Johnson scandal rocked the nation early this month. The Southwark Court ordered the UK construction firm, Mabey and Johnson to pay repatriation of £658,000 to Ghana.

Mabey and Johnson was found guilty of corruption overseas.

The company spent £26million building bridges in Ghana.

Because new directors of Mabey and Johnson pleaded guilty to the charges preferred against them by the SFO, the court could not hear detailed evidence on the alleged bribes which were paid.

Mabey and Johnson rather went on a plea bargaining with the SFO.

The court judgement did not mention any Ghanaian officials for receiving bribes. The judgement only mentioned the fine imposed on Mabey and Johnson.

This reporter gathered that some Ghanaians are trying to link the Mabey and Johnson scandal to a conspiracy on the Mills government.

According to them, the British government wanted to use the Mabey and Johnson case to smear Ghana Government after the latter had declared its resolve to review the Vodafone deal.

The British telephony, Vodafone, acquired 70 per cent stake in Ghana Telecom at the cost of US$900million amid much public outcry.

Information doing the rounds alleges that because of some top UK government officials at Downing Street having substantial stake in Vodafone, everything is being done to stop the review.

Already, P.C. Appiah Ofori, a New Patriotic Party Member of Parliament has alleged that each member on the majority side in the house then received US$5000 for voting for the Vodafone deal.

He said that he has a list of the recipients to prove his allegation. Castle sources say President Mills was informed early this on the approaching scandal from the UK.

Sources say an MI6 officer of the UK had demanded an end to attempts to review the Vodafone deal in exchange for an equal one to drop the charges against Mabey and Johnson.

President Mills rejected that outright, hence the hasty shoddy case built by the British to coincide with the Vodafone back and forth arguments. Stay tuned for more! Source:

Livingstone Pay Charlie, News Editor

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