If Mr. John Stephen Gilchrist (aka) Steve J Gilchrist could not be grateful at all, the last thing he shouldn’t do is to be so vile and wicked by accusing me and my Ghanaian friends of defrauding him. I would want to believe that as intelligent and a good orator who has a good command in English as his first language, Mr. Gilchrist totally misunderstood the use of the word defraud and dupe this time around.
We worked so tirelessly at every length to help his company Cinergex Canada Limited to enter into various contracts with different agencies of the government of Ghana with the intention to build a waste-to-energy project at the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly. His demands, we realized, were unscrupulous and crooked to comply with in the long run. His agenda was most likely a 419 scam. The crime of my colleagues and I is that the project was taken away from him 4 years after failing to come forth to dig the ground with even a shovel to confirm his interest in building the all-media-hyped project in Ghana just as he wanted. Mr. Gilchrist’s idea of the media hype was to use it to his financial gains and as an advantage to showcase the media articles and news in his globe-trotting to seek funding he needed badly for his own driven and hidden agenda.
Taking advantage of the kind and warm Ghanaian hospitality, Mr. Steve Gilchrist thought the government of Ghana was a naďve institution filled with ignorant bureaucrats where he could play his cards to outwit them and lay hands easily on everything he asked and demanded. Coming in as an investor with waste gasification technology that could help Ghana and even some West African countries to resolve the garbage problems in the region, he asserted he has all the funds readily available for such projects.
Typical of Ghanaian hospitality, the man was welcomed with all the support needed to accomplish the waste-to-energy project, the first of its kind in Ghana and Africa. When pressed to show documentation and proof of his source of funds, he found several ways of dodging the question each time. As a former Municipal Affairs Minister for the Mike Harris provincial Conservative government of Ontario and with his past political position we did not doubt his credibility, hence my colleagues and I found no reason to keep pressing him for the proof of source of funding for the said project. All we knew was that he had the entire financial wherewithal with support coming from his Vancouver, BC Company to build the state-of-the-art waste-to-energy project in Kumasi.
Mr. Gilchrist, upon arrival into Ghana, started altering his statements contrary to his utterances in our previous meetings with him prior to our departure from Canada to Ghana. As hard as he could he thought he could talk his way to obtain a Sovereign Guarantee from the government of Ghana to use it as collateral in raising the said funds that he had promised he already had for the project. When pinned against the wall and was denied the Sovereign Guarantee, he resorted to other tricks of getting support from the government in raising funds.
By this time, my colleagues and I were becoming skeptical about Mr. Gilchrist’s intention for the whole project and the so-called financing that he had secured. We realized his actual intention and the true personality when it was too late. There were numerous demands from Mr. Gilchrist and partner Gus Papadakos who owned Cinergex. We realized later, after the May 6, 2007 sod-cutting ceremony of the project in Kumasi that the company was wholly owned by Mr. Gilchrist alone. What happened to Gus Papadakos then, only Mr. Gilchrist could explain how he outsmarted his partner and ditched him out from the company. Such is the character of the person who is accusing my colleagues and me for duping or defrauding him. At this time Mr. Gilchrist had in his possession the following documents from Ghana to allow him to fulfill his contractual obligation to the government and the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly. Copies of all signed contracts are still available with me for evidence and for those media groups interested in this case truthfully.
Below are all the documents needed for Mr. Gilchrist to commence the project which were all made available for him and his partner Gus Papadakos of Cinergex:
• Signed MOU with the KMA
• Signed Agreement with KMA (project beneficiary) and Ministry of Local Government Rural Development and Environment (project overseer)
• Signed Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) from ECG (Electricity Company of Ghana)
• Signed Letter of Support from Ministry of Energy
• Signed Letter of Consent and Support from Ministry of Finance (in place of Sovereign Guarantee)
• Signed Letter of Approval from Ministry of Attorney General for the Mother/Main Contract
Going further you can ask yourself that what else was wrong and what else was Mr. Gilchrist looking for again? With all these documents in hand and promising the nation and the then President at the May 6, 2007 sod-cutting ceremony that they would commence construction in 2 – 3 months, Mr. Gilchrist vanished from Toronto and Canada. All efforts to reach him for a useful discussion failed.
We later learned that Mr. Gilchrist was globe-trotting from United States to South Africa and the Far East looking for financiers for the Ghana project.
What happened to his promise of having financing and the technology in place to commence building the project immediately the contracts were signed? And what happened after the contracts were all signed and given to him? That was beyond me and worse of it all, it was so difficult to reach either Mr. Gilchrist or his partner Gus Papadakos, the two owners and the only two employees in the company. Their corporate business address was also found to be the apartment condominium of Gilchrist himself. My business friend in Canada Mr. Costas Manios kept on tracking Mr. Gilchrist and his associate with all efforts at his hand but to no avail.
When communication was re-established, Mr. Gilchrist started turning back the process by resorting to other tricks – that is languages in the contracts, especially the PPA just to buy time. The guy was not ready to do the project, period. With frustrations from the representatives of government on the project, Mr. Gilchrist was warned by my Canadian business partner that Cinergex may lose the project in no time if they (Cinergex) do not act as they have promised the government. By this time we could not help protecting Mr. Gilchrist and his company and with frustrations from the Ministry (MLGRDE) and KMA, the project was re-assigned for non-performance by Cinergex.
Regardless of what time and date the letter was signed to him charging that he did not fulfill his contract agreements, Mr. Gilchrist and his company for a period of four (4) good years did not perform according to their own promises and contract agreements.
Mr. Jumah, who had submitted the non-performance letter to Gilchrist, was still at post technically on December 31st, 2008 and could still transact business on behalf of the government as a Deputy Minister and Mr. Gilchrist cannot accuse Mr. Jumah of wrongdoing. Did he perform or he did not perform – two (2) years after signing the mother contract and eighteen months after receiving the final and signed PPA from Electricity Company of Ghana – ECG. Technically it was three and half years waiting with no result. Is this Mr. Jumah’s crime of duping Mr. Gilchrist?
Up till that point in time (November 17, 2004 to December 31, 2008), neither Mr. Gilchrist nor his partner had given me a farthing or a dime in all the undertakings of the project in Ghana, not even a meal. In addition he did everything possible to find excuses not to pay my partner and me the finder’s fee of $4.5Million and $6.75Million respectively of the project cost – that is 5% of $92 Million to $135 Million after all documents were given to him to commence business. The sad thing is that at this time I had quit my full-time job at Nortel Networks to take on this project on fulltime basis.
My colleagues and I, including some officials who heard about this technology from Mr. Gilchrist did everything in their power to help Mr. Gilchrist to develop the project without asking for any kind of favor from Gilchrist or his partner. They were all out in unison to see the success of the project. Readers should therefore get it straight that none of the mentioned names in Herald News (that is Mr. Kofi Jumah, Steve Ntim, or Atta Akyea) ever asked for any favor from Gilchrist or his associate and not even from me. Rather it was Steve Gilchrist who rather asked for favors like free transportation for travelling around each time he was in the country. We did all for him, because we were looking at the end of the tunnel and we believed there was going to be light in the end. That light is the frivolous allegation of duping that Gilchrist is accusing us in Herald News and the World Wide Web.
It was, and it is still shocking to see such a venomous accusation in the Herald News (April 17, 2011) in an attempt to tarnish my innocent name and also to drag some good patriotic citizens of Ghana into this fabricated story of Mr. Gilchrist. It is very disheartening, cruel and unfortunate.
It is just so regrettable the Herald News that published Mr. Gilchrist article titled “Kofi Jumah and others duped me – Canadian” April 17, 2011 didn’t do a good job but based the article purely on a speculative written report from the accuser. As a veteran journalist, a little Google or Yahoo search could have given him a little insight about the project for the paper to add one and two together to make the article better, without putting the news onto the “Wide World Web” assisting Mr. Gilchrist to smear my innocent name as well as the poor guys and officials who through their own sweat and funds supported the accuser to bring this technology of waste-to-energy plant to Ghana.
What is so more ridiculous about the defrauding and duping accusation is that both Mr. Gilchrist and the paper could not come out to support their argument on how much money was swindled from the accuser. Mr. Gilchrist should bury his head in the sand and in shame for having the guts to come out with such unfounded and frivolous allegations. Where is the duping?
Reasonable Ghanaians should be reminded of the real specifics of the accuser and his company Cinergex of the fact that, the genesis of the project commenced in Kumasi after an MOU was entered between the said company and KMA on November 17, 2004, but not November of 2003 as the paper and Mr. Gilchrist claim. A little investigative work by the paper could have corrected this date rather than to continue with the erroneous assertion by the accuser into the minds of the good reasonable people of Ghana to pitch against whom I like and whom I hate. Remember the old proverbial phrase, “it is only the foolish
who seeing his brother suffering and says oh well, thank God it’s not me.”
First of all, none of my Ghanaian colleagues I solicited assistance from and even I who led Mr. Gilchrist into the country to build his so-called waste to energy project had any contractual agreement with Mr. Gilchrist or his company directly. No discussions of personal remuneration or finances were whatsoever brought before Steve Gilchrist in any of my meetings with him apart from the actual project financing for KMA but not in isolation either. Everything my colleagues and I did was transparent and it included over 500 emails but mostly through my business friend. I can testify strongly by every means to prove that not even a farthing was ever taken or paid to me or to my Ghanaian colleagues named by the accuser in his assertion with the Herald News that he Mr. Gilchrist has been defrauded by the said individuals.
Everything that I did with the help of others was transparent from the very beginning of the meetings with the accuser. Mr. Gilchrist who claims otherwise met with me and Canadian business partner (including other couple of friends of mine based in Canada) where the accuser pitched continuously without end the benefits of waste to energy project to Ghana and making note that he has the capital and finance in place for the project. All we wanted from Mr. Gilchrist was to affirm that he had the financial resources to build this project in Ghana, because we knew that the government of Ghana had no money to pay for such a multi-million dollar project. With that affirmation the big question of who was going to fund the project was put to rest.
In the end, Mr. Gilchrist got us convinced and arrangements were then made upon his request to meet officials in Ghana to pitch his project. Accra and Kumasi were picked and to make it easier, we decided to start from Kumasi as a pilot project and once accepted by the government we could then build one in Accra as well. Why Kumasi? Because, Mr. Jumah who is innocently accused here in this article is an old friend of mine and he at the time was the Mayor (Chief Executive Officer) of the metropolis, and was pursuing an aggressive agenda of change in the Kumasi Metropolis.
It made sense however to call upon him (Mr. Jumah) to give Mr. Gilchrist and our team the support needed to pilot this project. This is how Mr. Jumah innocently got involved with the project. Truthfully Mr. Jumah did every good thing in his power as an official to promote this project on the airwaves and to other Ghanaian officials to get this project off the ground for the City of Kumasi.
The MOU was then signed under Mr. Jumah as the Chief Executive of the metropolis on the specified date of November 17, 2004. It is interesting to note that Mr. Gilchrist (the President of Cinergex) and his Managing Director, Gus Papadakos had to be bailed out of their hotel and meal expenses for the two or three days we spent at the Royal Park Hotel at Nhyiaeso, Kumasi at the end of the first trip in Kumasi. I strongly believe that Mr. Gilchrist had the funds to take care of the said expenses but instead, Cinergex wanted to take advantage of the warm reception. I felt so ashamed and embarrassed when they asked me and my friends to pay the bills for them. Nevertheless, their request was honored. Transportation was also free. That was a scam on the part of Mr. Gilchrist and partner who boasted of being wealthy investors.
The only time Mr. Gilchrist and his Cinergex Company paid any expenses for me throughout the three and half year encounter with them was during my first trip with Cinergex from Canada to Ghana to promote the Waste-Energy project. These expenses were for my flight from Toronto to Heathrow, Heathrow to Milan, Milan over Rome to Accra and a hotel expense at an East Legon motel for a night upon arrival in Accra before proceeding to Kumasi the following day in November 2004. You can then figure out the type of investor we were dealing with at this point. The flight route alone speaks a lot about the type of cheap investors we had on our hands.
And for over three years that was how Mr. Gilchrist and Mr. Gus Papadakos operated. Having spent eight (8) months in total in the country alone chasing the project, I was also in Ghana more than five (5) times following up this project and every expense was borne out of my own pocket. Cinergex kept giving excuses and not even a lunch meal or dinner was ever purchased by Mr. Gilchrist for me or any of my Ghanaian friends during any of his visits here in Ghana. It was all business from A.M to P.M. This weird attitude toward business, if I may describe it, was not a major concern, we simply wanted to get the job done so that the so called “finders” fees the business friend of mine, Mr. Costas, signed up with Steve Gilchrist and Cinergex company, could be paid to us in no time.
Let me emphasize again that, at this point I had neither direct contract with Gilchrist personally, nor Cinergex as a company. Beside the finder fees that Mr. Gilchrist signed with Costas Manios, Gilchrist had assured me of management of operation of the Cinergex Energy Company here in Ghana plus a number of board seats and to take the entire by-products from the facility during the project life. Assessment on the by-products revealed that it would earn me hundreds of thousands of dollars with spill over for my friends. These were part of the reasons I got Steve Ntim involved and some other friends who were not mentioned by Mr. Gilchrist in his allegation. Steve Ntim, out of his pocket funded most of my expenses and trips once in Ghana as we all looked forward to reaping the benefits of the projects in the long run. Steve Ntim will be the last man to extort or swindle any cent from anyone and more especially Mr. Gilchrist whom we wanted to help. Mr. Ntim’s crime was probably stopping Mr. Gilchrist from handcuffing the government with his tricks.
Honorable Atta Kyea and Honorable Kofi Jumah were not promised anything by anyone. I am not even sure that Steve Gilchrist ever met with Honorable Atta Akyea. He is just a friend who I dropped by at his office once a while in the afternoons to take a rest. No one retained him for anything. He just offered to assist me and my Canadian business friend Mr. Manios about the ridiculous clauses Mr. Gilchrist was inserting into the contracts. Mr. Atta Kyea in addition, helped me with some of the contract agreements because I did not have the wherewithal to retain a lawyer for the numerous activities on the project. Mr. Gilchrist and Mr. Papadakos would and could not retain a local lawyer. Mr. Atta Kyea is a fine gentleman and a staunch man of God if you really know him very well.
Through Mr. Atta Akyea’s legal advice, we were able to sign the items that were required by Cinergex from KMA, and Electricity Company of Ghana plus the guarantee from the Ministry of Finance needed by Cinergex. Mr. Gilchrist realizing his frivolous plans were over and had no more excuses eventually, wanted to outsmart everyone by resorting to language clauses in every contract signed by all parties involved in the project simply to avoid or delay paying the five (5%) percent finder’s fee or no financing at all for the project. With all the patience, I held on with my business friend from Canada and my Ghanaian friends whom I had asked for assistance in achieving this all-important project for Kumasi and Ghana.
It became apparent that Mr. Gilchrist wanted more than he had originally asked for and had been mutually agreed upon. The truth of the matter was and still is that there was no money for the project as he promised the whole of Ghana and the then President of the nation by moving him to Kumasi to do sod-cutting for this project at the very time when the country was in dire need of electricity.
After Cinergex promising the whole nation on May 6, 2007 that concrete pouring would almost immediately start and all components would start arriving within 6 – 8 weeks and construction finishing in 9-13 months, Mr. Gilchrist and Mr. Papadakos vanished from the face of Canada and North America. Several attempts to track the two (Steve G and Gus) by me or my business friend and even the Canadian High Commission here in Ghana proved futile.
By this time the Canadian mission in Accra had been convinced by Mr. Gilchrist of the viability of the technology. Mr. Gilchrist was the only one who knew what cards he was playing or what was on his agenda. Using his position as a former Conservative provincial cabinet minister and a politician, Mr. Gilchrist sounded very credible wherever he appeared by profiling himself on end.
At one point in 2008, Mr. Gilchrist had sneaked into the country and had wanted to secretly go to Kumasi to promise the then Mayor many things to have her sign to him (Gilchrist) exclusive right to the Kumasi waste-to-energy project so that it could not be awarded to any other company until he was ready with the funds. Fortunately, Steve Ntim stopped him from such agenda just in time to avoid handcuffing the whole KMA and the government. At this time Gilchrist had gone through South Africa trying to impress Nedbank for funds for the project. The project that was supposed to be financed by North American financiers has now turned to African banks and financiers.
This is the man who continuously said to the officials of this country that he had financing ready from Vancouver, Canada. The “main or mother” contract from KMA and Ministry of Local Government Rural Development and Environment which was reviewed and approved by the Attorney General Department proves this point in Recitals 3A page 2 in the contract. Substantiation available upon request.
The intriguing questions are, what did Mr. Gilchrist really want? What was his hidden agenda? And what was he taking us for? Who was trying to fool or scam who or the people of Ghana? And to the readers of Mr. Gilchrist publication in Herald News who grabbed the story and tore my colleagues and I apart, may you answer now who was trying to protect the people of Ghana?
There are scores of documentations here for all media houses and individual Ghanaians to pick up and dissect to reason with it rather than just picking up the allegation from anywhere and tearing innocent people apart.
Stephen Gilchrist and his partner Gus Papadakos were given all the necessary opportunity and help to develop this project. All loving and reasonable Ghanaians who followed the story in the media when we landed in Ghana were very warm about the project because they knew that the Waste to Energy project presented by Cinergex was one of a kind to solve more than one problem. The technology presented was rarely mentioned in Ghana until this time and I believe that the technology is still part of the solutions to Ghana’s sanitation and energy problem. But the answer to the problem will not come from Mr. Gilchrist and his Cinergex Company that operates from his Pickering condominium apartment at 155- 2995 Royal Road at Pickering Ontario, Canada. Cinergex was the first to bring this project into limelight in Ghana but unfortunately with a hidden agenda.
Cinergex requirements from us here in Ghana to pay our finder’s fee and to move the project forward were met at long last as follows (Copies are available upon request):
• Initial MOU with the KMA
• Agreement with KMA (project beneficiary) and Ministry of Local Government Rural Development and Environment (project overseer)
• Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) from ECG (Electricity Company of Ghana)
• Letter of Support from Ministry of Energy
• Letter of Consent and Support from Ministry of Finance
Let me remind readers again that the question of Sovereign Guarantee was discussed in Toronto the first time we met with Mr. Gilchrist and the issue was trashed out by my colleagues and me. Mr. Gilchrist however found a way to ambush us and introduced it back into discussions when we came into the country and anytime he had the opportunity to have audience with officials of Ghana. This was shot down all the time and immediately. Gilchrist was told bluntly that Sovereign Guarantee for his private project was a no and no and could not happen, period; but the guy never gave up and kept bringing it up.
The last item noted as “Letter of Consent and Support” was issued to back the PPA signed by ECG in its strongest term by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to Cinergex, just in case ECG defaults payments of tariff. This offer then replaced the request of “Sovereign Guarantee” that Cinergex was trying to use to ambush the government and to find a cause to delay the project. Cinergex accepted this offer on May 7th, 2007 a day after the sod-cutting in Kumasi. Having met all the requirements for Gilchrist and his company, it became apparent that he wasn’t going to pay the finder’s fee nor was he going to start the project in Kumasi. Why didn’t he do anything to start the project as his company promised before the media cameras on May 6th 2007?
Stretching the project all this while, Cinergex continued to stretch it again from this period to late 2008 until the “last straw broke the camel’s back.” All patience for the project to commence ran out and the said letter for non-performance was issued to Cinergex. Note again that Mr. Gilchrist after December 31st, 2008 upon receipt of the letter did not surface up until the second quarter of this year 2011, another three years later. This time around Mr. Gilchrist surfaces accusing us by trying to win new friends in Ghana to be awarded the project again. Simple arithmetic should tell all Ghanaians and Mr. Gilchrist’s that 2011 minus 2004 is just not hard to compute as 7 years. If he was not able to find financial resources to build within this period, then there is enough justification for his contract to be abrogated by the officials responsible at the time, regardless.
Please note that there is very little evidence of any work directly performed for the list of companies and countries the website of Mr. Gilchrist company claims to have completed. The last check on the Malaysia project proved otherwise – just another media hype project that yielded nothing. Until next time the question of who duped who or who scammed who and defamation of character will be answered in the law courts at all jurisdictions concerned. Hope this will clear the vile and venomous false accusations of Stephen John Gilchrist, former provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs for the provincial Conservative Party of Canada.
Source: Duodu-Sarpong, Roy
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