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Friday, March 5, 2010

CHRAJ Goes Public On M&J Scandal

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The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) will, on March 15, 2010, begin public hearings into the case of some Ghanaian officials whose names were mentioned in the bribery trial of the British construction firm, Mabey and Johnson (M&J).

The officials mentioned at the trial were a former Foreign Affairs Minister and Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Dr Obed Yao Asamoah; a former Minister of Health, Dr George Sipa Yankey; a former Minister of Finance, Mr Kwame Peprah; a former Minister of State at the Castle, Alhaji Seidu Amadu, who was a Deputy Minister of Roads and Highways in the 1990s, and a former Minister of Roads and Highways, Mr Ato Quarshie.

The rest are Alhaji Boniface Saddique, a former Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing in President J.A. Kufuor’s administration and director at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning at the time of the alleged bribery.

Public hearings are often employed by CHRAJ as part of the open processes of investigating administrative impropriety in the public sector. According to it, all public officials who were mentioned during the trial of the UK-based firm had already been notified.

The Chairman of the commission, Mr Justice Emile Short, told the Daily Graphic that the network has been established for CHRAJ to receive all relevant materials from the British Serious Fraud Office (SFO) before the public hearings.

That was because the Attorney-General, Mrs Betty Mould Iddrisu, had already submitted information required by the UK SFO on the competence of CHRAJ in the matter under the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement, by which countries collaborate in trans-border crimes.

During the trial of the M&J in September 2009, allegations were made that some public officials in Ghana ad been bribed by the UK construction firm in respect of contracts in the country.

After that, the government called for all documentation on the activities of M&J in the country and the Attorney-General proceeded to the UK for more information on the matter in October 2009.

After that, President Mills invited CHRAJ to take up investigations into the matter and Dr Yankey and Alhaji Amadu, two of the officials named in the scandal, resigned, with Dr Yankey explaining that he had resigned to devote his time to prove his innocence.

Since October 2009, CHRAJ has been undertaking preliminary investigations into the case and it wrote to the UK SFO in December 2009 requesting for some vital documents tendered in evidence at the trial of M&J.

Last month, in a press statement, CHRAJ indicated its inability to proceed with the investigations because its request for Legal Mutual Assistance, by which information would be shared between the UK SFO and itself, had not been responded to by the UK SFO.

Subsequently, the UK SFO requested for more information on the competence of CHRAJ to deal with the matter through the Attorney-General’s Department and that was duly submitted.
Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana

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