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¢90m Blown On Booze
 
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30-Nov-2012  
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Latest information from the scandal that rocked the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) indicates that contrary to earlier denials, indeed GH¢9,000 (¢90million) of public funds was spent on assortment of alcoholic drinks during the 70th birthday celebration of the GIPC board chairman, Ishmael Yamson.

This new information emerged after the attempt by the Chief Executive of the centre, George Aboagye, to explain the huge financial scandal that rocked Ghana’s investment gateway this week.

On Tuesday, DAILY GUIDE exposed GIPC’s misapplication of public funds when an official memo dated April 26, 2012, intercepted by the paper, showed that the investment centre had earmarked GH¢20,000 (¢200 million) for the birthday bash of Mr. Yamson. This follows a publication on Monday about the doling out of GH¢4000 (¢40million) to NDC foot-soldiers canvassing support for President John Mahama under the name Volunteers for Mahama (VFM).

Mr. Yamson immediately denied ever spending the money.

According to him, when the cheque was presented to him, he felt it was inappropriate, hence his decision to return it.

He stated that his children were actually the ones who footed the bill for his birthday.

In an interview with Joy FM yesterday, the embattled George Aboagye said, “I don’t think he [Ishmael Yamson] will say that he returned the cheque. Look, what happened was that he himself did not directly come for the money. It was the people who were organizing his birthday. Normally these things come as we want to surprise him. So this is what happened.

“It was a management decision to support his birthday party…We said we would buy the drinks, and so when we bought the drinks, almost GH¢11,000 (out of GH¢20,000) was in excess and he returned the money and we gave him a receipt. So the actual money that was spent out of the budget was less than 50 percent of the amount.”

When asked why such a huge quantum was spent on just drinks, the CEO, who resigned on Wednesday, justified it by saying that the birthday was held in an expensive location. “It’s a five-star hotel. It was held at La Palm and there were many dignitaries that were coming and this was the support that we gave him,” he said.

According to Mr Aboagye, who is the NDC parliamentary candidate for Ahanta West, Mr. Yamson was not an ordinary citizen, hence he deserved a befitting birthday. “He is not a private person, he is the Chairman of the Board of GIPC. This is a man who doesn’t even take his board allowances. He commits it to the Institute of Hygiene or so. It is not like we were just going to just give him money to consume it, he wouldn’t do that. “That is why we wanted our receipt for expenditure which was given to us and we also took the money that was left and then gave him a receipt.”

Conflict of Interest

On Wednesday, an official statement signed by the board Chairman confirmed the resignation of the beleaguered CEO following the scandal which also involved spending public funds (GH¢4, 000) to finance a pro-National Democratic Congress (NDC) group.

The CEO has been cited for conflict of interest, particularly because he is also an aspiring parliamentarian on the ticket of the NDC.

Mr. Aboagye, on Monday, told DAILY GUIDE that he had been on leave since October 2012, yet he was the one who approved the request presented by the pro-Mahama campaigners, VFM, in November.

In his recommendation for the approval of the fund transfer to YFM, Mr. Aboagye wrote on the request letter of VFM, “For peace sake, let us donate GH¢4,000 please.”

According to him, the VFM group came to GIPC for “Peace purposes” even though nowhere in the letter did VFM stated that it needed the money for a peace walk.

The group was unequivocal in its request. “It is our aim to galvanise support and celebrate volunteerism in getting His Excellency John Dramani Mahama elected as President in 2012 general elections,” the VFM letter stated.

Mr. Aboagye said he had the impression of a peace walk. “Those people came to us and they came to us with a letter and upon discussion, I was able to think that they were going to do a peace walk. That’s what I understood-that they were going to do a peace walk.”

President Mahama’s campaign team has ordered the VFM to return the cash squeezed out of the GIPC, yet Mr. Aboagye is denying completing the payment to the group.

According to him, even though an Ecobank cheque was written and duly signed for the VFM to retrieve the cash, the cheque was never released to the group.

According to the CEO, who was mostly stuttering in his encounter with Joy FM, the signed cheque was given to the group, but miraculously the cheque was brought back to the GIPC.

Rationalizing The Resignation

He blamed the GIPC structures for leaking such sensitive information, hence his resignation.

“I resigned because I felt that the issue at hand is just an aspect, but there is a larger picture to the whole incident. I resigned because I felt this is a place where confidence is very important especially among the investor community. If documents could be copied and put in the public domain under my watch, there is that possibility and the place looks porous in terms of keeping confidentiality. Then it is not fitting that I stay because investors should have confidence that documents they bring, register and lodge with us may not be tampered with,” he stated.


 
 
 
Source: Raphael Ofori-Adeniran/D-G
 
 

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