Centre for Public Interest and Democratic Peace (CPIDP), a civil society group, has expressed concern about the lack of interest by His Excellency, President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo in the scandalous transaction between the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company Limited (BOST) and Springfield Energy Company in the matter of BOST’s indebtedness to Springfield Energy.
According to the group, there are countless occasions where Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo had indicated his readiness to fight corruption, which they applauded but his silence on the recent exposé of the high magnitude of corruption perpetuated by the current Managing Director of the State owned BOST, Mr. George Mensah Okley and his Head of Finance, Mr. John Kojo Arkoful to the tune of GH¢14.4 million (equivalent to US$3 million) has been creating doubt in the minds of most well-meaning Ghanaians as to whether indeed the President is serious about his assurance to fight corruption in Ghana, a canker that has long eroded the economic fortunes of the nation.
In a statement read by Alex Abaka Jacobs, the executive director at a press conference, he urged the President to show concern by asking both George Mensah Okley and John Kojo Arkoful to go home, institute a forensic audit to establish the real motive behind the payment as well the process leading to this shameful scandal.
There are suspicions of political influence linked to the wife of Kelvin Okyere, CEO of Springfield, according to Member Of Parliament For Assin Fosu South, Hon. Kennedy Agyapong .
He indicated that the fact that Kelvin’s wife is the daughter of the first lady’s sister should not hinder the appropriate sanction of investigation into the deal and possible prosecution.
Below is the full text
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen of the Print and Electronic Media.
We first want to thank you for responding to our invitation to this Press Conference, and admire very much your full presence.
The issue at hand in this Press Conference is the on-going media expose’ of the scandalous transactions between the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company Limited (BOST) and Springfield Energy Company in the matter of BOST’s indebtedness to Springfield Energy.
This matter is of great interest and concern to Centre for Public Interest and Democratic Peace, because there are countless occasions where His Excellency President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akuffo-Addo had indicated his readiness to fight corruption in the country and indeed the sacking of the former Energy Minister points to that zeal and commitment, which we applauded so much.
However, his silence on the recent expose’ of the high magnitude of corruption perpetuated by the current Managing Director of the State owned Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company Limited (BOST), Mr. George Mensah Okley and his Head of Finance, Mr. John Kojo Arkoful to the tune of GHS 14.4 million (equivalent to USD 3 million) has been creating doubt in the minds of most well meaning Ghanaians as to whether indeed the President is serious about his assurance to fight corruption in Ghana, the canker that has long decimated and economic fortunes of the nation and stunted her rapid growth.
At this moment every well meaning Ghanaian and civil society organizations built on integrity and national interest should be worried about the current development in the country because if whistle blowers risk to bring such fraudulent and scandalous transaction out and it turned out to be kept under the carpet, eventually they will be discouraged from exposing future corrupt practices and in the end it is the nation and the ordinary citizens that suffer the naked consequence of under-development and poverty.
Evidentially, Springfield Energy took BOST to court for the recovery of the principal amount of USD 11, 104,143.29 at the interest rate of 19% from 13th November 2015 till the final payment.
The court granted these claims and when the Springfield entering the judgment, they back dated the duration for the interest to October 2013 so that BOST would pay more interest on the indebtedness to their company but BOST external lawyers Nsiah Akuetteh & Co then came in to challenge the period for the calculation of the interest and the 19% interest rate for a dollar transaction in which seemed very strange and shady.
The trial judge stayed his ruling partially, allowing BOST to pay the principal amount that was not in dispute and appealed against the 19% interest rate and the back dated starting date for the accrual of interest.
On the 20th December 2016, BOST fully paid the principal amount of USD 11, 104,143.29 through a Five Year Term Loan from Fidelity Bank, Accra, which sources indicates that BOST is still servicing the loan using all their revenues from Storage and Rack.
According to our checks this has seriously affected the cash flow of BOST leading to its inability to settle its other genuine debts thereby bringing the company’s reputation into mud.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is on record that while the matter was pending in court, Springfield Energy approached BOST to settle it. During the settlement both parties agreed to 12% interest rate but BOST latter changed its decision and offered 8% upon further consultations. Springfield did not agree after it had been paid USD 4 million interest. The parties went back to court for the case to continue to its logical conclusion and is still pending in court.
The illegality on the part of the current Managing Director of BOST is that considering the matter and assuming the back dated starting date for the accrual of interest is accepted by BOST and the 12% interest rate is also accepted by BOST taking into account the allowable industrial losses of $300,000.00, then by computation Springfield Energy should have refunded $194,425.55 to BOST being overpayment.
Despite this clear development, when BOST wrote to Springfield for the refund, Springfield refused and demanded further payment from BOST and this compelled BOST external lawyers Nsiah Akuetteh & Co. to warn the management of BOST against possible scandal if BOST make any further payment to Springfield under the circumstances.
Below is the extract of the external lawyers professional advice and warning which was acknowledged by Head of Legal Department of BOST, Mrs. Harriet Amoah on the 14th November 2017:
“We have not revised our view that Springfield Energy is smartly trying to blow hot and cold at the same time. We therefore stand by our professional advice given earlier that BOST should not cave in to the blackmail of Springfield to hand them underserved millions of dollars from the public purse.
The modus operandi of Springfield is not new. It has been so since the inception of this case.
Let Springfield boldly go to the court, prove their case in accordance with the law and let the court deliver its judgement. BOST will then have the option of satisfying the judgement or if it is unhappy challenge the judgement higher up.
That way it would be seen that BOST stood its grounds and fought a good battle to protect the public purse. That way nobody can accuse all those involved in the case of creating, looting and sharing.
Therefore, we ask that on what basis George Mensah Okley and John Kojo Arkoful paid an additional USD 3 million which is equivalent to GHS 14.4 million to Springfield Energy.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the question that Ghanaians are expecting to be answered to put the matter to rest.
- It is clear from the facts that both George Mensah Okley and John Kojo Arkoful had failed to protect the public purse thereby causing serious financial loss to the state.
- The Board Chairman had indicated in the media that, the Board knew nothing about the payment made to Springfield Energy.
- Arkoful was well aware of the transaction at every stage but refused to advice George Mensah Okley not to pay meaning that he had personal interest in the payment.
- George Mensah Okley rushed to pay such a huge amount within his first month in office without due diligence shows that he is either incompetent to head this national organization or had personal interest in the payment.
- Springfield Energy knows that they are not entitled to 3 million US dollars that is why they stopped attending court.
- John Kojo Arkoful was indicted heavily in a similar scandal to the tune of $18 million when he was the Acting Managing Director of BOST and was accordingly interdicted. It is not a surprise to anybody in the petroleum industry that John Kojo Arkoful had been bought back to BOST to commit another financial crime or fraud.
- Both George Mensah Okley and John Kojo Arkoful must be sacked immediately from BOST.
- John Kojo Arkoful with his previous $18 million scandal must be sacked from Electricity Company of Ghana Board immediately.
- Both George Mensah Okley and John Kojo Arkoful must be put before court for prosecution to serve as deterrence to other public servants with similar criminal mindset.
- The security agencies such as EOCO, BNI, and CID of Ghana Police Service must be authorized to retrieve the money from Springfield Energy.
- The Board and the immediate past MD must give a reason why they kept John Arkoful at BOST despite the damning committee report available.
- The Board is incompetent and must be dissolved and replaced with competent one.
Ladies and Gentlemen; this is our submission, and we pause here to answer any questions that you have, about the issue raised or your comments and opinions on the matter.
Alex Abaka Jacobs