Barely 24-hours earlier, he had had a row with the nominated Ghana High Commissioner to Nigeria, Alhaji Baba Kamara, over allegations reportedly made by him on radio that the later was the one who collected his passport to facilitate payment to him from M&J.
Sources say Kamara had not taken kindly to the allegations and minced no words in telling the troubled Yankey to go and check his records well before speaking loosely.
Shaken and under criticism from NDC party supporters, some of whom had earlier supported him but were now turning on him, Sipa Yankey decided to do the wisest thing. He flew the next available flight to London to call on his bank to call all records of his transactions within the period under review to be able to speak properly to the issue and to possibly meet the other man who could help refresh his memory on the scandal threatening to end his political career.
Unfortunately, Gye Nyame Concord can authoritatively reveal that the man who could have helped refresh his memory was not in London.
Mr Miles Potter, the Mabey and Johnson man who dealt with and largely paid a number of top Ghanaian officials accused of receiving bribes from the British bridge building company, and who is identified as “Director D” was no longer in London. He now lives on the Asian continent, sources in London told this paper.
The then fresh university graduate spent almost four years in Ghana in the 90s and managed to worm his way into the heart and minds of top public officials through the doling of ‘freebies’ in cash.
Those freebies transferred to various accounts in London and elsewhere are what the soft-spoken 56-year-old head of the British SFO, Richard Alderman (picture on the front page), now says were part of a deliberate bribery scheme put in place by M&J to corruptly procure contracts.
M&J, according to the Queens Counsel for the SFO, John Hardy, paid “a wide-ranging series of bribes” totalling £470,000 to politicians and officials in Ghana, with Dr George Sipa-Yankey, Messrs Amadu Seidu, Ato Quarshie, Boniface Abubakar Saddique and Edward Lord-Attivor allegedly travelling to Britain to collect various sums of money from bank accounts in London.
In the eyes of the SFO, M&J paid public servants modest sums which were relatively small in proportion to the commercial gain the company got.
What the SFO, however, stopped short of doing was to disclose the identity of the man it said oversaw the Ghana situation and whom it only identified as “Director D” in court.
Truth is, the late Danny Ofori Atta had a running battle with the young Englishman with an expertise in finance, who had been brought into the country to supervise the work of M&J and who was to rise as an executive officer to become a Director of the company after a successful stint much later in life in the Philippines.
According to the evidence led by QC John Hardy in court, on April 3, 1996, the late Ofori-Atta stormed the Twyford offices of M&J in London with a relative to meet with the Office Manager of M&J following his frustration with Potter in Accra.
The records show that the complaint from the late Danny Ofori Atta, a former kingpin of the EGLE party, was that he did not have total control of the 15 per cent commission due him and some of which should be shared to public officials.
Miles Potter, who was then in Accra, was not delivering on the bribes to him, the SFO suggests.
In the words of the SFO, Danny Ofori Atta had problems with Potter’s presence in Accra and did not believe Mr Potter was distributing “5% to the “relevant personnel” or “local personalities”.
Records sourced from M&J by the SFO noted that Danny, who is identified in the documents as Mr Ofori, complained that he had been sidelined by Potter, who was now dealing directly with other Ghanaians and that when he (Danny) was involved in the payment scheme of the total amount of the “15% commission the present difficulties would not have existed”.
This was because he had dealt with the situation ably in the past.
Again it was about Miles Potter on whom Danny wrote a letter dated March 14, 1996 and sent via fax on a “Danielli Mabey Ltd” letterhead marked for the attention of his wife, Mrs Margaret Ofori, in Accra to be passed on to M&J head office.
In the fax, Danny complained that “the situation in Ghana has been deteriorating gradually ever since Director D (Potter) came into Ghana.”
Potter according to the SFO had equally sent a “confidential memo” dated 25 March 1996 directly to Director B (David Mabey)) rebutting Mr. Ofori’s assertions, and detailing how it was that he had had a meeting recently with the only person who “can guarantee M&J’s position in this market”: Kwame Peprah.
All these disputes occurred because the Mabey family firm, whose worldwide empire is based on exports of steel bridges, had decided at the time in the word of the British SFO to “sideline” Danny and “to impose more direct control over the payments made to “local personalities” by” Potter “supervising and control from 1994”.
Significantly, after his stint in Accra, Potter was assigned a duty post in the Philippines where he successfully managed to change the fortunes of the British firm by bringing in more than a billion British Pound bridge building contracts.
The story on his Philippine exploits, which nearly marred the presidency of that country’s president, was captured in the following terms by the UK-based Guardian newspaper.
“A little-known family who became one of the richest in Britain have been accused of making excessive profits in an aid project, by building what their critics call “bridges to nowhere”.
A Guardian investigation has discovered that steel bridges costing more than £400m have been sold to the Philippines by the Mabey family, all secured with UK government-backed loans and grants. But many of the crossings, which were supposed to open up the flood-prone jungle terrain, have no roads to go with them.
The British construction company, Mabey & Johnson, owned by the Mabey family, has been handed virtually all the supply contracts for the bridges, despite being more expensive than its competitors. Accusations of corruption and overcharging are now being made in the Philippines. Mabey denies any impropriety, saying the allegations are made by rivals or are politically motivated.”
GYE NYAME CONCORD