Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Tuesday, December 06, 2016
Details are emerging about how a secret deal between Mahama’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) government and Alfred Agbesi Woyome, the party’s reported bank roller, to enable him to execute a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project has been prepared.
The presidency is said to be neck-deep in the murky transaction - which pressure group OccupyGhana has described as another avenue to loot state funds - involving Mr. Woyome’s Anator Holding Company Limited.
The government, through Chief of Staff Julius Debrah, is allegedly putting pressure on the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to fund the controversial public-private partnership arrangement; and it looks like the involvement of the SSNIT is what Anator Holding Limited is waiting for before going to the financial market to raise funds.
Woyome is asking for $8 million (GH¢35 million) from SSNIT, even though he owes the state GH¢51.2 million as money he fraudulently received as judgement debt.
A letter directing SSNIT to ‘strictly’ comply and take 24% shares in the bizarre SEZ project was signed by Ambassador William Ntow Boahene, a presidential staffer, on behalf of the Chief of Staff on October 4, 2016, and had said it was being done following the Attorney General’s advice.
The AG in its advice to the government prepared and signed by Deputy AG, Dominic A. Ayine on September 30, 2016, cautioned, “The Chief of Staff can issue directives with respect to SSNIT to take up the 24% stake in the project subject to compliance with the investment guidelines established by the National Pensions Act 2008.”
The AG had explained that “the issuance of governmental directives to a public body such as SSNIT does not necessarily violate the law.”
The letter indicated, “Where the Board of Trustees of SSNIT agrees with the directive to take up the stake, it would be advisable to conduct legal and financial due diligence on the proponent company in order to ensure that the public interest in the investment by SSNIT is protected.”
The letter accepting the presidency’s directive to SSNIT to be part of the project was written on August 19, 2016 by Albert W.S. Essamuah, Managing Director of Albert Essamuah Associates Limited, who are the Supervising Consultants of the project; and said they were appointed by the government through the Ministry of Transport under former minister, Dzifa Attivor and Anator Holding, proponents, to establish the Master Plan Implementation Office which comprises the legal technical and financial structure to organize, follow, and monitor the realization of the preliminary and implementation phases of the SEZ project.
The consultant then asked the Chief of Staff to issue an urgent directive to SSNIT through its Board Chairman, Joshua Alabi, to take up the 24% stake in the project on behalf of the people of Ghana because the trust had shown interest.
“By transferring the 24% stake holding of the government to SSNIT, the project transaction advisor, Ernst & Young, can progress with their work on raising capital for the project,” according to the letter.
According to the consultant, the SEZ project has landed property totaling over 35,000 acres in Tokpo, Kablevu (963.42 acres), Todze (1,743.39 acres), Sogakope (2.7 acres) and in the Sekondi-Takoradi petrochemical enclave (2,470 acres yet to be reclaimed); all together with a market capital value in their current user states over $256 million, adding, “It is expected that when the construction of the port commences, the value will escalate to over $25 billion.”
The consultant said that the Ministry of Transport and Anator Holding have jointly established an Escrow account from which verified payments will be made towards the project.
The consultant, in another letter dated July 14, 2016, written to the Lands Commission, assured it (commission) that Anator Holding has made arrangements for payment of compensation for land owners to be captured under the project.
They said Anator Holding would assign custody of the lands to UT Bank after the transfers had been done in the name of the Ministry of Transport.
The letter stated that Atuguba & Associates are the project’s local lawyers and that they would ensure that payments are made on the back of signed contracts to prevent future denials of compensation payments.