..After Chopping Its Money
Lawyer Philip Addison, the leader of the 17-member committee, tasked by the Minister of Energy; Boakye Agyarko to investigate the Ameri Group agreement, but got hugely compromised, is desperately trying to rescue his bartered image by hitting back at the Dubai-based company, claiming it had no expertise in building and managing power plants.
According to Philip Addison, the company which through the government of Ghana, has helped drastically reduced the country’s energy crisis, executed the project through third parties.
What was supposed to be an independent investigation into the power purchase agreement between the government of Ghana and Ameri Group Of Dubai, has been heavily compromised with luxurious hotels, high-priced wine, food, sightseeing, deserts safaris and expensive shopping all paid for by the key subject of the investigation; the Ameri Group.
Receipts and other documents on the expensive trip from the visa arrangements, first class plane tickets, travelling allowances, and video recordings of some of the male members of the Philip Addison-led committee are in the hands of the members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Parliament.
The NDC Members of Parliament (MP) have hinted at going to the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to seek a judicial review into the work of the 17-member Philip Addison-led committee set up by the Minister of Energy to determine the extent to which it can be relied upon.
It has also emerged that, the 17-member committee was later joined in Dubai by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ayawaso West Wuogon, who is the younger brother of the Energy Minister, Emmanuel Kyeremateng Agyarko,
“If you see the contract, there is nothing in that contract that tells you that it would be performed by a third party. All the warranties and guarantees were given by Ameri”, Mr. Philip Addison, said in a desperate move to save his face and the others from shame.
“Now it turns out that this is a company that has no idea, expertise, and history about power projects; so how did they enter into this kind of agreement? So if you make statements by which another party is induced and it turns out that those statements are false, they are fraudulent misrepresentation,” he said.
According to Mr. Addison, Ameri only served as an agent to secure the contract, but instead of executing it, the company subcontracted other companies, including General Electric (GE) and Metcar to build, install and run the plants.
Speaking on Metro TV’s Good Evening Ghana programme on Tuesday, Mr. Addison said the committee has recommended a renegotiation of the contract or outright abrogation if the renegotiation proves futile.
“First of all, there is $150 million that is the contract price, then they subcontracted it to PPR for $360 million. So that is 150 million out of the $510 million. In addition to that, in the agreement, there are variable charges which had been put in the agreement as $16.6 million.
I questioned this, both here in Ghana and at Dubai. At both places the answer I got was that it was a mistake. The reason why it struck me was that, how come a variable cost could have a fixed sum. I’m advised that the plant even at maximum production, should be around $8 million,” he added.
Mr. Addison further explained that, there was absolutely no need for these variable charges, because it has been taken care of in the $360 million “and it is not Ameri that is performing the contract so what is the variable charge for?” On why the deal was not abrogated immediately such anomalies were detected, Mr. Addison explained that “we thought that we have come far, PPR is operating the plant, so let’s take first soft approach to renegotiate because they themselves have expressed that willingness to renegotiate failing which we terminate.”
“So there is also a recommendation for termination in the event that renegotiation fails,” he added.
Mr. Philip Addison also rejected claims that Ameri’s hospitality extended them influenced their work.
The Vice President of policy think tank, IMANI Ghana, Bright Simons, had earlier claimed that, the contract awarded to Ameri was executed by five different companies.
According to him, bringing on-board these companies which included General Electric (GE), PPL, APR AND Metcar was unnecessary.
Ameri Power secured a contract from the erstwhile government to provide about 250 Megawatts of power for Ghana because of erratic power cuts in the country. However, the NPP government upon assuming office tasked a 17-member committee to investigate the contract, which they believe was not in the best interest of Ghanaians.
Former Deputy Finance Minister in the erstwhile Mahama regime, Casiel Ato Forson, had revealed to journalists in Accra that Emmanuel Agyarko, , had joined Addison and his committee members in Dubai, two days after the 17-member Ministerial Committee had left town.
Just like the trip by the committee itself had been sponsored by AMERI, the bills for Emmanuel Agyarko’s trip, had been footed by the company, whose Power Agreement with Government Mr. Agyarko’s brother and Minister of Energy, Boakye Agyarko, had set up the Addison Committee to investigate.
Mr. Ato Forson added, even more damning revelations, telling journalists at Parliament House in Accra yesterday that, the trip to Dubai by the Addison Committee, which was supposed to be a three-day stay, had been extended into a whole week’s stay.
The Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo, believes the Philip Addison-led committee investigating the AMERI deal ,did not compromise itself by allowing the company it was investigating to fund its trip to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Madam Akuffo, said embarking on the AMERI-paid trip to Dubai was “a sensible position to take,” given the circumstances.
According to the Attorney General, the meetings forming part of the investigation into the deal were to take place in Accra.
But one of the representatives of AMERI indicated his or her unavailability, thus it became necessary that the meeting should be moved to Dubai.
The Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko, however, put his foot down and said any possible trip by the 17-member committee was not going to be done on Ghana’s purse.
She, however, stressed that she only spoke with knowledge of the reasoning for the moving of the meeting from Accra to Dubai.
The Attorney General recounted that “the position taken by the Minister was that, we are not going to bear the cost. We are not going to throw good money after bad. We have agreed that we hold the meeting here, we are trying to cut back on our losses and we would not be incurring additional debt to relocate to that place.”
“So the other party [Ameri] said we are prepared to bear the cost. As to whether they were feted or given per diem, I do not know. I do not have anything on my desk. I do not know about these extra things being spoken about.”
Nothing nefarious at play.
The Minority in Parliament has ridden on the detail of the AMERI-funded trip to Dubai to allege malfeasance on the part of the Philip Addison-led committee, and has further said it will be petitioning the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).
But Madam Akuffo said, in her view, there was no ill-intent on the part of the committee or AMERI.
“My understanding was that it was a matter of engaging with a view of coming to some amicable resolution of the observations the committee had made in studying documents. It is not as though you have a policeman trying to catch a robber then the robber suddenly feeds him. I do not see it as that,” she explained.
The 17-member committee was constituted on grounds of a $150 million anomaly in the AMERI deal, as well other financial, technical and legal issues, and recommended that AMERI be made to re-negotiate the deal or be rejected by Government on grounds of fraud.
Ghana was made to pay $150 million extra in commission to Africa & 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 10th, 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 5-year period at a maximum of 360 million dollars.
However, the Build Operate Own Transfer (BOOT) agreement signed between government and AMERI was pegged at a minimum of 510 million dollars.
With such a legal background, Casiel Ato Forson underscored that it was scandalous that members of the Committee had placed themselves in a situation of compromise under the influence of the very company that they had been set up to investigate.
It is latest revelations about the trip that show that, the very Energy Minister, who had inaugurated the Committee, had had his brother also join in the trip suspiciously sponsored by AMERI to Dubai.
Interestingly, Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko, himself, was a headline figure in the news a few weeks ago when he was alleged to have passed GH¢3,000 each to members of Parliament’s Appointments Committee as back hander to influence them to approve his nomination as Energy Minister.
The Addison Committee has since urged government to renegotiate the AMERI Agreement because it claims that the erstwhile Mahama regime’s contract with the company had been bloated by some 150million dollars but AMERI is said to be rigidly opposed to any such renegotiation talks.