Gov’t In $35m Bribe Scandal


Ekwow Spio-Garbrah
It has emerged that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government has surreptitiously asked Destination Inspection Companies (DICs) to contribute $35million to the repayment of a judgement debt to Bankswitch, a private IT firm, in exchange for contracts.

Bankswitch dragged Ghana government to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, for unlawful termination of their contract and the court awarded damages in excess of GH¢197 million to the company.

The government, in its attempt to pay the debt to Bankswitch, is reportedly resorting to what appears to be complete blackmail, in order to get the debt settled.

A letter, purportedly signed by Minister of Trade and Industry Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, asked DICs with the capacity to contribute $35 million each towards repaying the judgement debt to assist government.

In the letter dated June 3, 2015, the government said: ‘To pay this debt, government of Ghana is informing all destination inspection companies that any of them who can advance government of Ghana an amount of 35 million dollars would be awarded a contract of 0.35 per cent of free onboard values on all Ghana’s imports for at least a period of five years to enable that company recover its investments.’

The DICs were given until midday of June 8, 2015 to respond with an expression of interest, according to Joy FM, an Accra-based radio station.

The letter said for the 0.35 per cent FOB payment, any of the companies that make the $35 million contribution will do relevant trade facilitation within the context of the National Single Window and work with West Blue Consulting – which has been identified to implement the single window programme – on aspects of that exercise and said however that West Blue will be paid separately.

The DICs, according to the letter, are also required to indicate how soon they will make the $35 million available.

It said the government has decided to implement a national Single Window from September 1, 2015 and that the contract of destination inspection companies will come to an end on August 31, 2015.

Filthy Business
Samuel Atta Akyea, Member of Parliament (MP) for Abuakwa South, has described as ‘filthy’, the deal being entered into by the government.

He described the letter to the DICs as ‘a very veil form of bribery’ and said the government could not seek to solve its problems by inducing companies through monetary donations in the form of contracts.

‘This is very filthy for you to use your office to induce people to pay monies which they are not supposed to pay so they have some advantage because of your promise,’ he told Joy FM.

‘What is even worse is, you wouldn’t want to respect the Procurement Act and that there will be no competitive bidding and you will give it to them because they did your bidding.’

The MP added that ‘we owe it to ourselves to really address this concern and haul him before the House (of Parliament) to come and answer questions relating to the letter; but I don’t want to believe he signed the letter because if he did, then it is scandalous.’

Bankswitch’s Story
Bankswitch Ghana took the government to The Hague demanding the award of ¢853 million for the illegal termination of a contract it signed with the government in 2007.

The Ministry of Finance had entered into an agreement with the company for the provision of a customers’ valuation software for the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority to help with revenue mobilisation.

Along the line, the government abrogated the contract for non-performance; but Bankswitch challenged the decision at the international court.

The court held that the contract signed with the ministry to provide the services was wrongfully abrogated and awarded damages in excess of GH¢197 million.

By William Yaw Owusu


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