….And Targets Smarttys
The Herald’s preliminary findings about the Rural Electrification Project in which Smarttys, has been mentioned, has revealed that the contract was rather between Ghana Government and the China Hunan Construction Engineering Group Corporation, and that Smarttys, has no business transaction with the government as claimed by the Minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) MPs.
Firstly, the Assin Central MP, Kennedy Agyapong and his wife; Stella Wilson Agyapong , using several companies, including Imperial World and Mina D’Oro Ventures, had collected similar contracts during the Kufour administration under the Rural Electrification Project.
Shockingly, the multi-million Dollar supply contracts, were without tender, without parliamentary approval, and without value for money analysis.
Payments request were authorized by Felix Owusu-Agyapong, then Minister of Energy and paid by Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, then Minister of State at the Finance Ministry.
Prof. Gyan-Baffuor, who was a deputy Finance Minister, also made some payments to them.
The monies were paid into the accounts of Imperial World Limited numbered; 1131000013929 and Mina D’Oro Ventures’ account numbered; 1131000003302, all with the Agriculture Development Bank (ADB), Madina Branch.
Coincidentally, the bank operates from the same place; Hollyywood Arcade Building, as the two companies.
Secondly, the project was to benefit 556 communities in the Volta, Eastern and Northern Regions, by providing them with electricity under phase one of the contract at a cost of US$92million.
Thirdly, the credit facility is being provided by Industrial Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) with Standard Charted Bank, having a minor component.
Fourthly, as standard practice, in 2015 the Ministry of Finance, voluntarily requested the prominent audit company, Crown Agents for a value for money audit, which was executed.
The interim report of Crown Agents yielded $22million in favor of their clients, Ghana. The Chinese company (not Smarttys) contested the initial conclusion as part of the audit process leading to Crown Agents revising the amount to US$9million.
Fifth, government of Ghana, decided to utilize the savings of $9million for additional communities.
Meanwhile, Smarttys, has publicly threatened to sue media houses for defamation, saying the information put out on the Rural Electrification Project and its involvement, are inaccurate.
Ghanaian firm, Smarttys Management and Production Limited, has rejected claims by the NPP minority MPs that it was contracted as the country representative for the Chinese firm that allegedly over-bloated the cost of a government electrification project.
Smarttys is said to be representing China Hunan Construction Engineering Group, which would be undertaking the electrification project in the country. According to Parliament, Crown Agents, said the project was overpriced by about $9 million.
But in a statement signed by Kissi Agyebeng, Managing Partner of Cromwell Gray LLP, and lawyer for Smarttys, said his client was not a party to the contract.
The statement explained that, Smarttys only provided public relations service to the Chinese company.
“Our client dissociates themselves from the execution of any such contract between the government of Ghana and the other indicated party, China Hunan construction engineering group or any such entity. Our clients are not parties to the contract as reported in sections of the media. Our clients have, when requested at various times provided merely public relation services for China Hunan construction engineering group,” the statement said.
It also added that “this does not elevate our clients to the status of parties to the contract executed by the government of Ghana.”
They have further threatened to sue media houses or any person or group which drags them into the matter for the purposes of defaming them.
A Deputy Minister for Power, Abu Jinapor, had earlier clarified that government did not sign a contract with Smarttys to execute the project, but rather with the Chinese firm.
Speaking to Citi News, the Deputy Power Minister, John Jinapor, noted; “The government of Ghana has no contract with Smayttys. Unlike the earlier deal about the branding, the government of Ghana has no contract with Smarttys. The government of Ghana has a contract with Hunan construction and Hunan construction is at liberty to engage any other local counterpart, whether for PR purposes or any other purpose.”
He argued that, the most important thing is that government has to ensure that there was value for money and also “ensure that the contract fits within our overall objective as a nation and also ensure that the taxpayer’s money is not shortchanged.”
The minority in Parliament, had prior to this denial alleged that Smarttys, which is a local representatives for the Chinese Contractors, may have been responsible for overpricing the deal by about $9 million, considering their past record.
Smarttys is named as the local representatives of the Chinese company, China Hunan Construction Engineering Group, which would be undertaking the project.
For their involvement in the overpriced bus branding saga, many have questioned the appropriateness of government sitting aloof and allowing them to be associated with such a huge contract worth $92m.
Late last year, an official investigation into a major bus branding scandal found that Ghanaian firm Smarttys over-billed the state by more than Ghc1.5 million in a Ghc3.6 million contract to re-brand 116 Metro Mass Transit buses.
Under intense public pressure, the Presidency, ordered the company to cough up the excess funds it unjustly took from the state.
Officials say, although some initial refund has been made, Smarttys, still owes the state more than one million cedis. Smarttys is owned by Ghanaian actress and TV Host, Selassie Ibrahim.
Ken Agyapong’s two companies, have their bank accounts at the ADB, Madina Branch, located inside the Hollyywood Arcade Building, which is owned by Ken Agyapong, from where his two media houses, Oman FM and Net2 TV operate.
Imperial World Limited, runs account number, 1131000013929, whilst, Mina D’Oro Ventures transact business with account number, 1131000003302.
One of the document authored by the then Energy Minister, Felix Owusu-Agyapong, directed the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to pay a whopping Five Million, One Hundred and Seventy-Five Thousand United States Dollars (US$5,175,000) to Messrs Imperial World Limited for electrical materials supplied.
The contract sum dished out to the couple through Messrs Imperial World, a memo from the Internal Audit Unit of the Ministry of Energy also available to The Herald, revealed was fourteen million, nine hundred and ninety six thousand, three hundred and eight US dollars, eighty eight cents (US$14,996,308.88)
In another instance, even before a supply agreement could be signed, the Kufuor government through Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, shockingly authorized payment for the yet to be delivered items from Ken Agyapong and his wife, Stella Wilson.
In this case, a supply agreement was to be signed between the Ministry of Energy and Mina D’Oro Ventures Limited dated September 29, 2008, but two clear months before the signing of the contract a total of US$1,650 million, had been paid to the couple by the government.