A former Executive Director at the Ghana Integrity Initiative, Mr Vitus Azeem, has criticised the Addison-led committee constituted to investigate the AMERI deal for allowing the company to sponsor its trip to Dubai.
The Minister for Information, Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, has reportedly admitted that the Addison Committee’s trip to Dubai to investigate the deal, including hotel accommodation and air tickets, was paid for by AMERI.
This has raised many questions about the objectivity of the report it produced, which accused the erstwhile government of not doing due diligence in signing the contract, and, therefore, costing Ghana some extra $150 million.
The Attorney General last Tuesday sought to justify the sponsorship, saying AMERI offered to pay for the trip because they could not be in Ghana to answer questions from the committee.
Mr Azeem on Eyewitness News insisted the committee should have rejected AMERI’s offer, since it had the tendency to compromise its investigative work. “You are not obliged, but you must turn them down because they will compromise whatever you want to do. What is the reason for those people to offer those things to you?”
“Even if you can carry out the investigation in a very professional way, what impression are you creating out there?”
“They say if you live in a glass house, don’t throw stones; so no matter how professional you will be in your investigations.”
“This is not the first time this has happened. Some parliamentarians have travelled to the same continent and have come back with watches and other things and it was condemned so why should these people do the same thing when this happened and was condemned before?”
“How do they expect Ghanaians to accept the findings they come out with?” he quizzed.
Reason for the committee
The 17-member committee was constituted on grounds of a $150 million anomaly in the AMERI deal, as well as other financial, technical and legal issues, and recommended that AMERI be made to renegotiate the deal or be rejected by the government on grounds of fraud.
Ghana was made to pay $150 million extra in commission to Africa and Middle East Resources Investment (AMERI) Group LLC for the construction of a power plant.
The committee maintains that AMERI in its agreement with government dated February 10, 2015, charged Ghana significantly higher than what it was charged by the Turkish registered company, PPR, which financed and executed the project.
The Turkish firm pegged the total cost of the project, which is to span over a five-year period at a maximum of 360 million dollars.
However, the Build Operate Own Transfer (BOOT) agreement signed between the government and AMERI was pegged at a minimum of 510 million dollars.