WAMCO Running Away With COCOBOD’s US$50 Million Cash

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….As Germans Plan To Secretly Sell Company

The erstwhile West Africa Mills Company (WAMCO), a Cocoa Processing Company in Takoradi in the Western Region, is seeking to rip off Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to the tune of $49.5 million for cocoa beans supplied as it commences plans to liquidate.

The private company in which COCOBOD, owns 40 percent share, has collapsed due to mismanagement of resources leading to accumulated debt of almost 50 million dollars to COCOBOD.

Workers’ salaries, have also not been paid in years by the management of the WAMCO, led by Hermann Opterkuch, a German national.

The Senior Public Affairs Manager of COCOBOD, Mr. Noah Amenyah, in an interview with The Herald confirmed that WAMCO, has defaulted in paying for beans supplied them, despite several efforts by COCOBOD to ensure that payment was made.

He further stated that, following this, COCOBOD, put in some measures to safeguard its coffers by requesting a bank guarantee as a pre-requisite for beans supply but WAMCO could not meet this requirement leading to the closure of the company.

He added, ‘COCOBOD decided to halt the supply of cocoa beans to the company.

The Herald’s investigations, however, revealed that in the heat of pressure from COCOBOD, as well as the aggrieved staff of WAMCO regarding its indebtedness,
Management of WAMCO, led by Mr. Opterkuch, is currently in the process of liquidating the company’s assets at a ridiculous amount which will not allow it to pay off its debt owed COCOBOD..

As it stands now, if the company is liquidated at a low price, as alleged, it will still be indebted to COCOBOD and perhaps, unable to pay off its desperate workers who have been robbed of their peace of mind over the past few years.

Meanwhile, all attempts to get officials of WAMCO to speak to the issue have proved futile.

About a week ago, this paper reported how its in-depth investigations, have revealed the real reason behind the protest staged against COCOBOD boss, Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, a fortnight ago by workers of WAMCO, who disguised themselves as members of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) and the General Agriculture Workers Union (GAWU).

The Herald’s findings were that, the majority owners of WAMCO, who are Germans are indebted to the Ghana COCOBOD to the tune of a whopping US$50 million, but have refused to settle, and Dr. Opuni’s attempt to get the huge cash paid by the Germans, led them to stage the demonstrations with unsubstantiated claims of corruption leveled against him by the leaders of ICU.

The protest was with distressed workers of WAMCO, cloaked as members of ICU and GAWU. The Sekondi-Takoradi workers of WAMCO, as well as those based in Accra, had not been paid by their company for some months due to their management’s belligerence towards settling the US$50 million debt.

GAWU and ICU, had earlier vowed to prevent some workers of the COCOBOD from carrying out their threat to break away from the mother union. The two
unions, described the action as an attempt by the workers to break its front, and accused the leadership of COCOBOD of victimizing its workers, who are against the break-away. They, therefore became vulnerable to the influence of WAMCO.

The COCOBOD boss, The Herald learnt, had started demanding for the US$50 million debt, by stopping the continuous supply of Cocoa Beans to the company, as a way of tightening the noose on them.

This paper is informed that, prior to the freeze on the supply of cocoa beans, many letters were written to the management of WAMCO by the Ghana COCOBOD, but the Germans treated the letters with disdain.

Letters were also written to the German Embassy in Accra by the management the Ghana COCOBOD. This The Herald learnt, was done after it became obvious WAMCO, were not ready to pay the US$50 million. Indeed, most of the German administrators of the company, had also relocated to Germany.

With the freeze on the supply of beans, and the company collapsing, as a result of not paying workers salary, the Germans quickly resorted to sell WAMCO to themselves, although COCOBOD, is one of the shareholders of WAMCO, and had not been involved in any discussions towards selling the company.

More to come!

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