Ex-CHRAJ Boss & Vitus Azeem Shred Addison’s AMERI Probe

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The controversy surrounding the Addison committee’s AMERI-sponsored trip to Dubai, will require a thorough investigation, since the situation is complex, a former Commissioner of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), has said.

Justice Emile Short, suggested it was wrong for the 17-member committee to travel to Dubai under the sponsorship of AMERI, which is a key party in the investigation.

A Former Executive Director at the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Vitus Azeem, has also criticized the Addison-led committee constituted to investigate the AMERI deal, for allowing the company to sponsor its trip to Dubai.

According to Justice Emile Short, although the incident appears to be a clear case of conflict of interest, the context in which it occurred, makes it quite peculiar and complicated.

The 17-member committee, chaired by Philip Addison, was constituted by the government to investigate a power deal signed by the erstwhile government with AMERI.

The committee said, it discovered the former government paid $150 million, more than they were expected to pay.

The Minority in Parliament, has claimed that, the committee’s report was biased, and was compromised by AMERI’s sponsorship of the team’s trip to Dubai to meet AMERI’s executives.

The Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo, in an interview with Citi News, said the Philip Addison-led committee, did not compromise itself by allowing AMERI to fund its trip to Dubai, but according to Justice Emile Short, the situation is quite complex, and requires some tact before conclusions can be made.

“We have to look at the special circumstances of this case. The provision of government especially with regards to this AMERI deal and the fact that the company was the one that insisted that the committee should travel abroad…So these are the parameters which any institution investigating the matter would have to take into consideration. It is not your normal situation,” he said.

“Ordinarily speaking, when a committee is going to investigate a matter, it is true that the person or institution that is going to be investigated should not be seen to be giving benefits  or providing facilities for the committee investigating the matter, but in the peculiar situation of this case, there is a twist,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Minority has given indications that it would petition CHRAJ to investigate the matter, which it has described as “embarrassing, unethical and shameful.”

The Minister for Information, Mustapha Hamid, had earlier admitted that , the Addison Committee’s trip to Dubai to investigate the deal, including hotel accommodation and air tickets, were 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 on 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.

But Vitus Azeem on Eyewitness News, insisted the committee should have rejected AMERI’s offer, since it had the tendency of compromising 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, no matter how you come out with the findings, there are some people in the society who will say you have compromised your position and I think that people should know this.”

“This is not the first time this happened. Some parliamentarians have traveled 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 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.

 

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