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Monday, May 30, 2011

BIG Corruption Scandal Under Mills: TAQA Paid $1m To Govt Officials - CEO Confesses

President Mills is he going to take action or it 
will be business as usual?

In 2009, barely a year into the 4-year term of the Mills-Mahama National Democratic Congress, functionaries of the NDC allegedly received at least US$1 million dollars in bribery payments from TAQA, the United Arab Emirates based majority shareholder of the Aboadze thermal plant.

Moreover, according to confessions of TAQA’s former Chief Executive Officer, in its bid to triple the output of its Takoradi Power Station (110MW), TAQA paid multimillion dollar bribes to Ghanaian politicians in the energy sector in 2009, the year that TAQA sought approval for its expansion.

“The authorization to triple its output was obtained by inflating the official price of the expansion works” and then paying part of the surplus to Government officials, according to Peter Barker-Homek, the CEO of TAQA at the time.

Like the SCANCEM and the Mabey & Johnson bribery scandals which rocked the NDC, it has taken another legal case, this time by Mr Barker-Homek against his former employers, to expose the alleged corruption taking place currently in Ghana’s energy sector.

In a detailed letter sent to the Securities & Exchange Commission earlier this year, and revealed by the Maghreb Confidential on May 12 2011, Mr Barker-Homek detailed how TAQA made standard corrupt payments of US$1 million a year to Ghana government officials.

In 2010, TAQA formally signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Ghana and the Volta River Authority in relation to the proposed 110 MW expansion of the Takoradi plant. It is the contract sum that the former CEO claims was inflated to take care of Government officials.

Mr Barker-Homek sued the UAE state-owned energy firm TAQA in a US court in 2010, claiming he was forced out in 2009 after he “tried to put a stop to the kickbacks, bribery, accounting fraud and corruption.”

Barker-Homek, recruited to Taqa after working at energy companies including BP Plc, was allegedly forced by General Manager Carl Sheldon to sign a severance agreement, according to the breach-of-contract lawsuit filed August 27 2010 in Detroit federal court.

The case is Barker-Homek v. Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC, 2:10-cv-13448, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit).

This will not be the first time officials of the NDC have been involved in taking bribes for the award of contracts in Ghana.

In September 2009, it took a legal case brought by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office against Mabey & Johnson, a firm which pleaded guilty for engaging in bribery and corruption in a foreign country. Ghana, under President Jerry John Rawlings and Vice President John Atta Mills, is one of the countries where this corruption allegedly took place.

The Reading based company, owned by one of Britain’s richest families, had admitted on 7th July 2009 at Southwark Crown Court to paying bribes to win contracts in Ghana, Jamaica and Iraq.

Contracts worth £22m were awarded in the 1990s for the construction of nine bridges in rural areas in Ghana.
Similarly, in 2007, proceedings from the Asker and Baerum High Court (in Norway) alleged that Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings and PV Obeng were beneficiaries of huge sums of United States dollars paid into anonymous accounts by the management of Scancem, a Norwegian cement giant (owners of Ghacem), headquartered in Oslo, Norway.

The African representative for Scancem, Tor EgilKjelsaas, was hauled before the court for theft by his employers. Tor EgilKjelsaas was believed to have paid huge sums of money to some African leaders in order to sustain Scancem’s monopoly over supply of cement to the countries concerned.

The court proceedings indicate that between 1993 and 1998, a total of US$1,690,000 dollars was transferred to a Barclays Bank account and a total of US$2,460,000 was paid into a Unibank account during the same period.

The court proceedings also showed that Scancem management believed at the time that the money lodged in the Barclays account, as intended, went to Nana Konadu and that of Unibank went to PV Obeng, then the de facto prime minister of the Rawlings administration.
Source: The New Statesman/Ghana

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