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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mills Must Jail M&J Ministers - MP Insists

HE MP FOR Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, Hon P. C. Appiah Ofori, says President Mills cannot be taken serious on his anti-corruption talk unless he sacks, prosecutes and jail ministers in his government who have been caught by the UK judicial process of having received various sums in alleged bribes under the previous Rawlings-led NDC administration.

He also chastised former President Rawlings whom he said rode to political office on the crest of probity and accountability mantra of having ‘worked with some thieves’.

Speaking on Peace FM’s midday news Monday afternoon on what he expected President John Evans Atta Mills to do on the ongoing Mabey and Johnson bribery scandal after his return to the country, Appiah-Ofori said he expected the President to dismiss them.

Speaking in his native Akan language, he said the President cannot be taken serious if he does not sack the alleged corrupt officers who he said betrayed the public trust.

“They must not be allowed to resign; he must sack them and ensure that they are charged for the various offences and sent to jail”, he said, adding, that President Mills must otherwise not be taken serious on his claims of wanting to fight corruption.

“How can you campaign on the premise of cleaning Ghana of corruption and such vices and sit in Cabinet with people who took various sums of money to project the interest of companies they were to supervise? How can this be? He must not only dismiss them but they must be tried and jailed to serve as a deterrent” he insisted, betraying a tinge of anger with the conduct of the five Ghanaian public officers named as direct recipients of bribery by the Southwark Crown Court ruling in London, UK.

The five individuals indicted on the corruption related case involving Mabey & Johnson, a British construction firm that constructed bridges in Ghana, are Dr. George Sipa-Yankey, former Chief Legal Advisor of the Ministry of Finance under the Rawlings-led NDC administration and presently the Minister of Health, and Mr Amadu Seidu, a Minister of State at the Castle, who was also top public officer at the time.

Others named in the plea-bargain confession statement by M&J made available to the court by the UK Serious Fraud Office as having received various bribes are Dr. Ato Quarshie, a former Minister of Roads and Highways under the Rawlings-led administration, Mr Boniface Abubakar Saddique, a former staff of the Ministry of Finance under the NDC administration who became a Minister for Water, Works and Housing under the immediate past Kufuor-led NPP administration and Mr. Edward Lord-Attivor, a former Chairman of the Inter-City Transport Board.

Others such as former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, Messrs Baba Kamara, designated High Commissioner to Nigeria, former Finance Minister and current SSNIT Board Chairman, Kwame Peprah, who incidentally served prison terms with Dr Yankey over the Quality Grain scandal where over £20million was paid to an American woman over the Aveyime rice project, did not have serious adverse findings against them though their names were mentioned in the UK court ruling.

President Mills is reported to have demanded the resignation of the two indicted ministers at a meeting with them Monday.

The Mabey family-owned Mabey and Johnson bridge building company as part of a plea bargain arrangement to avoid serious punitive damages confessed to the Southwark Crown Court that it had systematically bribed officials in Ghana, Madagascar, Angola, Mozambique, Bangladesh and Jamaica with almost £1m to win public contracts. In exchange, Mabey & Johnson secured contracts worth £60m.

It named 12 officials in six different countries where it paid the bribes, with five of the recipients being Ghanaian officials who worked under the former Rawlings administration

Five of Mabey & Johnson’s eight directors have stepped down since early last year when Mabey’s holding company told the SFO of the corruption offences.

When the company pleaded guilty, Peter Lloyd, Mabey & Johnson’s Managing Director, said: “We deeply regret the past conduct of our company, and have committed to making a fresh start, wiping the slate clean of these offences.”

SFO director Richard Alderman said: “The offences are serious ones but the company has played its part positively by recognising the unacceptability of those past business practices and by coming forward to report them and engage constructively with the SFO.”

Sentencing, Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC said the “unusual case” came to light after five of the company’s directors stepped down and the new board decided to “dramatically” turn itself in to the SFO.

It later handed over “deeply incriminating” documents detailing its bribery and “sanctions-busting”.

The firm therefore deserved “recognition and approval” for its efforts to put matters right.

He said he recognised the company had taken extensive steps to distance itself from its criminal past and ensure there was no repetition.


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