UK Bribery Scandal…AG Initiates Swift Action

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu, has requested the Ministries of Finance and Economic Planning and Roads and Highways to furnish her outfit with all the documentation in respect of activities concerning Mabey and Johnson (M&J), a UK-based construction firm, from 1991 to 2005. Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, the Attorney General said following the directive by President J.E.A. Mills for action on the bribery scandal, she also had taken advantage of the mutual legal assistance scheme under which Commonwealth countries co-operate in the prosecution of trans-border crimes and requested information from the UK authorities as to their investigations into the matter. “We are awaiting that information and when I am able to get a composite picture, we will then proceed under our criminal offence act,” she said. Meanwhile, former President JJ Rawlings has called for swift investigations into a court ruling that certain leading members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) benefited from bribe money given by Mabey and Johnson when the construction firm undertook projects in Ghana in the 1990s. He said the investigations were needed to clear the name of the party and those of the individuals involved. President John Evans Atta Mills ordered the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu, to begin thorough investigations into the matter in which Mabey and Johnson had claimed in a court in London that it paid bribes in favour of contracts in Ghana in the early 1990s. Consequently, Mr Mould-Iddrisu has sent a request to the appropriate authorities in the UK for full information on the matter as a first step. Former President Rawlings, however, said the quick response in requesting further investigations into these allegations could only be applauded, adding, “however, hesitancy and inaction in the days to come will be seen as not serving the greater good.” Officials mentioned in the alleged scandal include Dr Obed Asamoah, former Foreign Minister and Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Dr George Sipa-Adjah Yankey, Minister of Health, who was a director at the Ministry of Finance; Mr Kwame Peprah, a former Minister of Finance; Alhaji Amadu Seidu, a Minister of State at the Castle, who was also a Deputy Minister of Roads and Highways in the 1990s. The rest are Dr Ato Quarshie, who was a Minister of Roads and Highways and one Mr Edward Attipoe and Alhaji Boniface Saddique, a former Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing in the Kufuor Administration, who was a director of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning at the time of the alleged scandal. Former President Rawlings stated that “Probity, accountability and service to the people are the basis upon which the NDC was founded” and that was why he had been espousing those tenets since 1982 and had consistently reminded the currently NDC government of the need to urgently pursue and prosecute persons who had been and continued to remain unaccountable to the people. “Ghanaians and the international community are watching closely how the Mills administration handles these allegations,” he said. Former President Rawlings alleged that “since coming to power in 2009, we have failed to pursue and prosecute the criminal activities of the past NPP government functionaries, who, in connivance with foreign partners, have stolen millions of dollars and accepted huge bribes. Let us not destroy the reputation of the NDC by being indecisive on this scandal.” For his part, Dr Obed Asamoah, who was also a Cabinet Minister in the Rawlings administration, has denied knowledge of any money allegedly given him and some of his colleagues by officials of Mabey and Johnson. He therefore, called for a swift official probe into the issue so that his hard-won reputation would not be marred and the records set straight “because nobody even spoke to me about such contracts.” According to Dr Asamoah, who doubled as the Foreign Minister of Justice, he never came into contact with any of the projects mentioned or any official of Mabey & Johnson. He explained that if certain persons used his name for such criminal activity, they must be investigated and those found culpable made to face the law because “such persons had done a great disservice to me.”