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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Zachem threatens court action against British diplomat

Mr Craig Murray
Mr Craig Murray

Zakhem International, which has been accused of engaging in fraudulent deals with the Kufuor-led government, has threatened legal action against a British diplomat Craig Murray who made the allegations.

In a press statement issued by the company Wednesday night, Zakhem said Mr Murray, a former deputy British High Commissioner to Ghana, got it all wrong.

Mr Murray published on his blog an article that suggested that the Kufuor administration entered a deal with Zakhem in which the company was supposed to build the Kpone Power Project for the Volta River Authority.

The company was paid $80 million upfront to install turbines the authority had bought from Alsthom for $70 million.

The former British diplomat said in an interview with Joy FM on Thursday that his checks indicate the project is only 7 percent complete although the government of Ghana has already advanced $80 million to Zakhem.

But Zakhem has responded saying it deems Mr Murray’s article and subsequent interviews on Ghanaian radio stations as rather damaging and requiring him to retract the allegations and apologise or else the company will take the necessary legal action against him.

“Our attention has been drawn to an article published by one Craig Murray on the internet in early February, and subsequent interviews that he has granted to radio stations in Ghana, in which he makes false and defamatory statements about us and one of our prestigious projects the Kpone Thermal Power
Project (“KTPP”).

“We are aware that Mr. Murray considers himself to be a ‘campaigner’ in respect of certain issues but sadly on this occasion he has gone too far. We should make it clear that we do not, have not and will not engage in any form of corruption in respect of our interests in KTPP, or any other project in Ghana or elsewhere. These are wild and unfounded allegations.

“These are very serious and deeply damaging allegations which have no foundation in fact. We have no alternative but to address Mr Murray’s factual inaccuracies in his report and set the record straight,” the statement said.

Zakhem said only $39.5 million has been advanced to the company contrary to Mr Murray’s suggestion of $80 million, and adds that overall progress to date stands at approximately 40%.

The company says the project has stalled because of changes in the scope of work, among others.

“The original project duration was for 18 months, however, since the start of the project there has been substantial delay due to changes in the scope of work, delays in payment and the relocation of actual site from its original site.

“These are the facts and show that Mr. Murray is misinformed and misguided. As a good corporate citizen, we cannot allow Mr. Murray to continue to publish deliberate falsehoods,” it said.

“We have invited Mr Murray to reflect on the actual facts and have given him the opportunity to retract these statements and apologize unconditionally for the damage he has caused to our excellent reputation.”

Meanwhile Mr Murray says he is unfazed by threats of legal action against him.

Story by Fiifi Koomson/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

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