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Friday, October 2, 2009

Mabey & Johnson: Statement By NPP Ireland & UK

We in NPP UK and Irelandand many of our concerned citizens in UK have been watching brief on the bribery matter that involved the whole NDC government machinery between 1993 and 2001 here in UK and in Ghana. On Friday, 25 September 2009, the British company involved, Mabey & Johnson Ltd, appeared at Southwark Crown Court, London for sentencing in relation to the admitted offences of overseas corruption and breaching UN sanctions. The company was ordered to pay £6.6M. This is the first prosecution brought in the UK against a company for these offences.

M & J, is a privately owned by a family company based in Twyford, Berkshire UK and founded in 1922. It is an engineering company, supplying steel bridges all over the world, largely in the developing world. M & J had already indicated at a magistrates' court hearing on 10 July 2009 that it would plead guilty to these offences.

The prosecution for corruption arises from the company's voluntary disclosure to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) of evidence to indicate that the company had sought to influence decision-makers in public contracts in Jamaica and Ghanabetween 1993 and 2001. The decision to voluntarily disclose the corruption offences to the SFO was taken by the management of Mabey & Johnson's holding company in February 2008 whereupon an investigation was opened.

M&J and the bribery in Ghana

M & J conducted business in Ghana over a number of decades. John Hardy QC, stated in the Prosecution opening statement that Mr. Kwame Ofori, aka Danny Ofori Atta was influential with the ruling party, NDC in Ghana. In March/April 1996, he attended the offices of M & J in Twyford and complained that the M & J's office in Ghana was not distributing funds appropriately. Mr. Ofori stated that the situation had been deteriorating even more since a certain manager had arrived. The reality was that Mr Ofori was no longer any good and someone else had to be a conduit.Kwame Peprah, the then acting Minister of Finance and Chairman of the NDC Finance Committee was the new conduit. Baba Kamara, Treasurer and Minister of Roads and Highways, helped facilitate the contract. Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, wife of the then president of Ghana was a member of the NDC Finance Committee. Obed Asamoah was also a member and an influential person to know.

Summary of payments:

Dr. Attoh Quarshie (former Roads Minister) - £55,000 ($88,000)

Saddique Bonniface (then a student at Exeter University in UKreceived £500 ($800) as his educational expenses) but this is unclear as there is another paper trail of bribes leading to a Boniface Snr. It is unclear who Boniface Snr. was and whether it was the same Boniface who received further monies.

Amadu Seidu (former Deputy Roads Minister) - £10,000 ($16,000)

Edward Lord-Attivor (Chairman Inter-City Transport Corporation) - £10,000 ($16000)

Dr George Sipah-Yankey (current Health Minister) - £15,000 ($24000)

Dr. Attoh Quarshie, the then Minister of Roads and Highways received a cheque in the sum of £55,000 for "Contract Consultancy". Instructions were received to enable Dr. Quarshie to immediately cash that cheque. The prosecution reiterated how much money laundering was going on under then NDC regime. The court stated that Amadu Seidu received £5,000 - it was paid to an account in Guernsey. Boniface received transfers from M & J to an account in Barclays Bank, Watford. It was a feature of the NDC officials, the court was told, to travel to the UK and open bank accounts in London, Watford, Channel Islands, Guernsey, etc. The officials received kick backs (bribes) which were disguised as commissions/consultancies. They paid 10 to 15% of contract value. They inflated the contract price to allow for payment of 'commission'. The Company, M & J did not lose anything. They did not lose any profit.

As a result of theses bribes, M & J were paid £1.3 million ($2.08m) for Tano Bridge and £4 million ($6.4m) for the Priority Bridge Programme in 1994 and £10 million ($16m) for the feeder roads they constructed up to 1998. The contract values exceeded the sums set out in those contracts. Payments received in theGhana contracts were valued at £26 million ($41.6m). These bribes went on until the general election of 2000.

There was a paper trail of highly incriminating evidence where between 1994 and 1999, direct payments were made to Politicians and Civil Servants of Ghana. Government officials and individual politicians were paid bribes to the whacking tune of £470,792.62 ($753,267.20)

Ghana is to receive £750,000 ($1.2m) with reparations of£658,000 ($1.05m) and confiscation order of £1.1million ($1.6m)

It is therefore up to us as a country to pursue the outcomes of this matter - the financial loses that we have incurred as against the corrupt financial gains the individuals and the government of the NDC made from mid-1980s till they were thrown out by the people of Ghana for a better government.

We call on the current NDC government of Ghana whose corrupt predecessors benefited from this to come forward to collect the reparation money and fines totaling over £1.4 million. The representative of the Ghana High Commission, Mr. Quansah, who described himself as the Acting High Commissioner in the court came unprepared and without any clear instructions from President Atta Mills or his appointed representative, Dr. Dodoo (whom the SFO have been dealing with). The Judge commented several times that if the Ghana Government was unable or unwilling to accept the reparation, then the money should be sent back to the SFO (within 28 days) and perhaps used for the purposes of Overseas Aid. The specific details were not revealed.


We in NPP UK and Ireland on behalf of all concerned Ghanaian citizens in Ghana and all over the world call on the government ofGhana

  1. to instruct the Attorney-General to immediately secure a copy of the Judgement from Southwark Crown Court and question those individuals named in the Court's Judgement immediately without delay.
  2. to set up an independent Commission of Enquiry to commence an investigation of the individuals and businesses M&J in Ghana who profited or benefited from the bribes. They should refund the money or their assets confiscated and for criminal charges/penalties for causing financial loss to the state be brought against them IMMEDIATELY.
  3. ALTERNATIVELY, Parliament should be recalled immediately and the whole committee of it or the Constitutional Select Committee of Parliament call the Attorney General to immediately institute the necessary investigation as directed by the President and call the A-G to the floor of Parliament to answer questions about Mabey and Johnson.
  4. to ensure that the reparation money be used for a worthwhile project in Ghana that will touch on the lives and benefit the ordinary people in health and education under the supervision of an independent body to be set up by Parliament. This should be monitored clearly by the citizenry. to see to it that government officials involved in the matter resign IMMEDIATELY pending investigation into the matter;
  5. We urge the President of Ghana to condemn such behaviour by government officials and let the whole nation know where he as a person and his government stand on the matter;
  6. We believe that former President Rawlings, who is always preaching accountability, must himself state clearly to the nation what he knew and what his role in the matter was, including his failure to stop the corrupt officials that he appointed.
  7. We also believe that the NPP as the main party in opposition owe it to the people of Ghana to mount pressure on the government to follow up with the recommendations in this statement and the many that other Ghanaians may have suggested. We should not let this matter go away quietly and pressure must be mounted on the President to sack his officials who were involved in this scandal. The National Executives of the NPP should therefore immediately petition the Govt. to institute the necessary investigation into the matter.

We also call on the media, the fourth estate of the Republic to continue to highlight the hypocrisy of the NDC government, former president Rawlings under whose watch this massive scandal of international dimension took place and to ensure that politicians are never again allowed to use our goodwill to align their own pockets.

We further call on all Anti-corruption NGOs, Christian Council, Religious organizations to raise their voices in protest against the NDC Corruption in this matter. Public Demonstrations should be waged as soon as possible in protests demanding immediate firing/dismissal of all those named who are currently in government. eg. Sipa Yankey, Kwame Peprah, Attoh Quarshie, etc.

Media Group

NPP UK & Ireland

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