Cash for seat report: Ashim Morton Cited for forgery

Two minority members on the cash for seat probe have presented a dissenting report accusing the organizer of the Expatriate Awards, Ashim Morton of forgery.

The report, presented by James Klutse Avedzi and Dr Dominic Ayine, alleged Mr. Morton forged documents to cover up the fact that expatriate businessmen and women paid monies to sit closer to the President during the Awards ceremony organized on December 8, 2017.

The dissenting report also makes adverse findings and damning accusation against the organisers of the Awards, Millennium Excellence Foundation (MEF), for engaging in “deceitful practices” in the process of organizing the awards.

The organisers “selected companies for awards even when the companies had not submitted information meeting the designed criteria and also forged documents meant to deceive the Committee and Parliament as a whole.”

The Trades Ministry, which collaborated with MEF for the organization of the Awards ceremony, was also not spared.

According to the 32-page report, the Ministry contravened existing laws on public financial management and engaged in major ethical violations “by allowing its credibility as a public agency to be used to amass profit for a private non-profit organization, which it cannot hold to public standards of accountability as well as by using the name of the President of the Republic as a means to make such profit.”

The dissenting report was compiled after public hearing into circumstances under which expatriate businesses paid monies to sit closer to the President during the expatriate awards ceremony.

Two members of the Minority in Parliament presented a motion before the house, demanding investigations into the cash-for-seat scandal that emerged in the heat of the Christmas celebrations.

Members of Parliament were on break at the time of the scandal but had to be summoned to an emergency sitting in order to debate the motion.

After drama on the floor, the Speaker, Prof Mike Oquaye, granted the wish of the minority and constituted a five-member committee made up of three majority members and two minority members to probe the scandal.

The Committee sat for about two weeks and interrogated the key actors, including Minority Chief Whip Muntaka Mubarak and Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the Trades Minister Alan Kyeremante and Ashim Morton in a public hearing.

It went ahead to interrogate in camera, other expatriate businesses that participated in the awards.

Throughout the public hearing, the committee members were divided along party lines, a posturing that did not make a dissenting report all too surprising.

But the findings by the minority members are damning, not only to the organizers but to the Trades Ministry as well.

“The Ministry of Trade and Industry failed or neglected to take account of possible violations of foreign corrupt practice laws and regulations in the conception, design and organization of the expatriate business awards,” the findings said.

The majority members are yet to release their findings.

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