…Gets US$1 Million before Ghana smells oil revenue by 2027
The Herald’s ongoing investigations on the beneficiaries of Aker Energy’s convoluted bribing scheme to get what they want in Ghana, has emerged that the Joy FM journalist paid to muffled critics’ voices has been on the payroll for four years, bagging a cumulative sum of about US$500,000.
The Plan of Development (PoD) submitted by the Norway-based Aker Energy, estimates 2027 for its first oil, about a four-year timeline, which many experts doubt will be met after five years of dilly-dallying.
However, the implication is that, before the oil is produced, the recurrent contract Evans Mensah and his car booth company; Excomsult Media, and Aker Energy, would amount to about US$1 million, even before Ghana, benefits from its natural resources.
Per the records available to The Herald, Aker Energy paid Evans Mensah US$125, 281. 21, as his contract sum from January 1, 2022 to December 2022, but The Herald’s information is that, that engagement and payment date way back.
This paper’s sources indicate that the covert assignment by Evans Mensah began in 2019, when Aker Energy decided to pursue a revision of the terms of their contract to make it more generous after the Ministry of Energy rejected the PoD for the strategy proposed for developing the Pecan field.
Aker had proposed to be allowed to use its allied companies to significantly sole source the service contracts for the development of the field. This was deemed to undermine the power of the Petroleum Commission to regulate cost, technology use and local content.
After failing to get the initial approval, Aker Energy, sought amendments to their Petroleum agreement to allow for the demanded approach for developing the field.
In the process, Aker recruited the support of individuals from the government, politicians, agencies, Civil Society Organizations and the media to canvas the changes they wanted. This is where Evans Mensah shined.
People familiar with the situation, recall how influential he was in managing opposition to the transaction: in parliament, among CSOs and, of course, the media.
With few voices of conscience left after the recruitment operations, Aker got its wishes approved by parliament in December 2019.
From then on, it was apparent to many industry watchers that Aker had amassed unfettered power within the oil industry, granting the company the luxury of determining how it wanted to function in Ghana rather than the reverse of being regulated in compliance with applicable laws.
Therefore, the company postponed the submission of a PoD for the pecan fields to the government on eleven occasions until last April, when they submitted a conditional plan.
The voices in the government, media and CSOs, which should have ensured that Aker behaved and produced the oil by the 2021 timelines, significantly found comfort in the pocket of Aker Energy, undermining the interests of the state and postponing significant cash flows from 2021 to 2027- with new timeline also in doubt.
The payment of the US$125, 281. 21 captured in a document recently submitted to the Petroleum Commission by Aker Energy to the Ghanaian journalist, was for Media Consultancy and Communication Service.
The Herald had sighted Evans Mensah in some unethical payments to some pressmen and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) for not questioning attempts by Aker Energy and Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) to go into a US$1.6 billion transaction.
The Herald’s background checks on the Excomsult Media, revealed that it is owned by one Evans Mensah, a reporter with Multimedia Group owners of Joy FM. His role mainly was to kill negative stories in the Ghanaian media about Aker.
Indeed, some CSOs, had complained about the Multimedia platforms being shut on them with respect to the activities of some multinational companies operating in Ghana.
At the heat of US$1.6 billion transaction between the Norway-based AKER Energy and GNPC sometime in 2021, officials of the two institutions, were moving from one media house to another, as well as the offices of the CSOs, offering them money ahead of a parliamentary debate on the transaction to remain quiet about it or openly support the transaction involving an unverified oil well.
Duncan Amoah, the Executive Secretary of Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC) and the Executive Director of Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA), Mensah Thompson, have since admitted collecting the cash from Aker and the GNPC team.
While, Duncan Amoah, said he received GHC30, 000 from Evans Mensah, Mr Thompson, revealed he got some GHC10, 000 from the AKER and GNPC officials; the sellers and buyers, who had called him on phone and met him up at the Airport Residential Area in Accra and handed him the money.
The Herald has since discovered that many more CSO operators, journalists, as well as Parliamentarians, were paid over the US$1.6 billion transaction which eventually collapsed, following a decision by AGM, a sister company of AKER Energy, to pull out. Some had also visited the Trasacco residence of the then Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GNPC, KK Sarpong.
Evans Mensah, had also told The Herald that he has been working for Aker Energy, but mainly on writing and issuing press statements on behalf of the Norwegian company.
He told the paper that, he decided to stay away from the US$1.6 billion transaction and go for a holiday in Dubai with his family, when it became obvious that people had taken an entrenched position on the deal.
What struck him most to stay away, was the mentioning of Dr Emmanuel Steve Asare Manteaw, as supporting the deal because he had also pocketed some cash from the promoters of the transactions.
But it has emerged that Evans’ role goes from writing press statements to using his private company to do business for the Norwegians.
In his Linkedin account, he gave a profile of himself and his company as “MSc Media and Communications LSE – London School of Economics.
Editor MULTIMEDIA GROUP JOY NEWS. Head, Political Desk and CEO, EXCOM. Jan 2016 – Present · 7 yrs 5 mos Jan 2016 – Present · 7 yrs 5 mos Accra, Ghana Accra, Ghana.
“• I Coordinate the cross platform teams for radio, television and online to develop political content and ensure accurate, compelling and comprehensive coverage of all political events.
“• Produce research to inform the group’s coverage of political events. “• Lead the development of strategy and detailed plan for the coverage of national presidential and parliamentary elections.
“Premium communications solutions provider with a client base of multinational firms like GOLD FIELDS. Lead a team of dedicated professionals in deploying media and communications tools to assist clients achieve their communications objectives.
“• Under my leadership we have successfully facilitated using audio-visual documentation interactions between top government policy formulators and our civil society clients giving them an opportunity to advance their advocacy objectives.
“• Under my leadership EXCOM have executed several international donor funded advocacy documentaries in the areas of oil and gas and mining.
“• Under my leadership EXCOM played a central role in designing the radio promotional material and helping facilitate the maiden Africa Oil and Gas Summit held in Accra under the auspices of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy and the Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth, GOGIG programme.
Two months ago, the Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah, called for investigations into the decision by AGM, the sister company of AKER Energy, to pull out of the US$1.6billion transaction with the GNPC.
He insisted that the circumstances leading to the initial proposal and government’s approval of the deal must be investigated.
He indicated in an engagement with the media that the Minority feels vindicated because they stood against the transaction when the GNPC brought the proposal before Parliament for approval.
He said Ghana would have lost so much money if the transaction had gone through, against their position that the deal, which the GNPC was expected to pay Aker US$1.65billion to acquire a 37 percent stake in the Deepwater Tano/Cape Three Points (DWT/CTP) and 70 percent interest in SDWT, was not valuable.
“They came to say that they want to buy the AKER block for US$1.65billion. We spoke forcefully, and we said that blocks they want to sell to Ghana for US$1billion was valueless and were risky, and that we need to have proper valuation of that asset and to make sure that we have mitigated all the risks. We insisted that we can’t buy it at that price.
“Now, it turns out that a year or two years later, AKER now goes back to say that that block that they wanted to basically dupe Ghana by selling to us for US$1.65billion, they no longer want it and that they have relinquished it. That really vindicates the NDC minority,” he said.
He added: “Can you imagine if we had indeed bought and exchanged money? If we did, then it means that today, we are talking about US$1billion plus that we have paid for an asset that has no value. That is why we believe that whole circumstances leading to AKER’s proposal to sell that block must be investigated”.