The various corruption allegations surfacing are proof that the Mahama administration was far more corrupt than previously thought, former Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Prof Stephen Adei has said at a Business Roundtable organised by Yamson and Associates in Accra on Wednesday, 31 May.
“Do you know why many people want to be politicians? It’s because that is the quickest way to get rich in this country,” Prof Adei said, adding: “We are yet to know the facts because we are not the investigators but the types of things that are being revealed about the amount of corruption [are mind-boggling].”
National Communication Authority graft
So far three appointees of former President John Mahama are being investigated by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) for allegedly diverting some $4million belonging to the National Communications Authority (NCA).
The three appointees, according to Information Minister Mustapha Hamid, conspired with a private citizen to commit the act.
The former Mahama appointees being investigated, as named by Mr Hamid in an interview with Joy FM’s Kojo Yankson on Wednesday, 24 May, include Mr Eugene Baffoe-Bonney, former Board Chairman of the NCA; Mr William Tevie, former Chief Executive Officer of the NCA; and Alhaji Osman, former Deputy National Security Coordinator.
Their conspirator, according to Mr Hamid is one George Oppong. Mr Hamid said they engaged in the graft in connection with a contract between the Mahama administration and an Israeli company, NSO Group Technology Limited, in which the latter was to supply eavesdropping gadgets worth $6 million. The equipment were meant to help the government of Ghana monitor the calls of suspected terrorists.
In the course of the transaction, Mr Hamid said a local agent – Infraloks Development Limited – charged $2million as facilitation fee, bringing the total amount to $8million.
According to Mr Hamid, National Security, which did not have the funds for the equipment, allowed the NCA, which supervises the use of such equipment, to fund the project.
The NCA top officials, he revealed, withdrew $4 million from the NCA’s kitty but gave only $1million to the Israeli firm.
The surplus, according to Mr Hamid, was deposited into the personal accounts of Mr George Oppong, who fronted as an agent of Infraloks Development Ltd. He said Alhaji Osman orchestrated the entire deal.
According to Mr Hamid, demands by the Israeli firm to be paid the $5 million balance after the Mahama administration lost power in the December 2016 elections prompted the new Akufo-Addo government to probe the transaction after which the graft was detected.
Mr Hamid said: “They took $4 million from NCA accounts and paid $1 million to the Israeli company and then deposited $3 million in the accounts of the local agent, one Mr George Oppong, and proceeded to share the $3million among themselves.”
Mr Hamid gave the breakdown of the share of the $3 million as follows: “Mr. Eugene Baffoe-Bonney took $200,000; George Oppong took $100,000; William Tevie got $150,000, Alhaji Osman received $70,000” while one other person got $500,000.
Mr Hamid revealed that Mr Oppong has refunded $1 million while Mr Baffoe-Bonney promised to refund $40,000 as of last week. He said the others have also promised to refund every cent. “BNI hasn’t even decided at this stage because they believe that the money must be returned. … If they succeed in retrieving the money then they will decide their next action,” Mr Hamid said.
According to him, the transaction was a clear case of top officials colluding to plunder the state coffers.
“The reason why this is a classic case of ‘create, loot and share’ is that…it was basically Alhaji Osman, acting as Deputy National Security Coordinator, who spearheaded this deal. …People cannot just go and open a state vault and take whatever that is in there,” Mr Hamid lamented.
Ghana Standards Authority graft
Also, it was revealed recently that the former CEO of the Ghana Standards Board, Dr George Crentsil, took a bribe worth $1.2million from Lemet Construction Company, the firm that was awarded a contract to build a new training school and hostel facility for the institution under the Mahama administration.
Speaking on this matter in an interview with Chief Jerry Forson, host of Ghana Yensom on Accra100.5FM on Tuesday May 23, PRO of GSA, Mr Kofi Amponsah Bediako said the revelation had opened a can of worms on other alleged dubious deals that were undertaken by Dr Crentsil.
Mr Amponsah Bediako said Dr Crentsil “and his family dipped their hands into the coffers of the Ghana Standards Authority and made away with those monies.”
“Some of us long suspected that some dubious deals were being undertaken but we did not have any concrete evidence or basis to confirm our suspicions, so we all kept quiet.”
According to Prof Adei, these revelations appear to be the tip of the iceberg, which betray how endemic corruption was in the Mahama administration beyond his imagination.
“You know, the last six months of Mahama’s regime, every month I gave a boom speech; it was not in support of NPP or anything. Why? Because I was convinced that they had reached a point whereby their continued being in office … is not good for Ghana.
“I talked about corruption once, and now looking back, even the little tips we are hearing means that it was far more than anyone of us suspected. Never in our nation have we seen official hijacking [of the] state for private gain. And I hear that when you go and you say something is for GHS1 million, he says: ‘Please get away with your nonsense, go and make it GHS5million.’ Then once those to protect the money say: ‘Go and make it five.’ He’ll give you GHS1 million, he will take GHS3 million and GHS1 million is for your original one,” Prof Adei said.
He warned the Akufo-Addo government not to go the way of the Mahama administration. “I hope that you the NPP people are not going to follow suit but that you are going to do not an NPP-NDC battle, but systematic legal investigation because we must deal with the past surgically.”