BNI SUMMONS BETTY MOULD … Over £2 million cost on WAMCO case
By Emmanuel Akli, Associate Editor
The Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) have summoned a senior policy analyst at the Centre for National Affairs (CNA), Mr. Richard Rocky E. Obeng, and the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Madam Betty Mould-Iddrisu, and two others to a separate meeting in Accra today.
Credible information picked up by The Chronicle indicates that the two have been invited to help in an investigation into why the Government of Ghana failed to produce the necessary documents to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) to claim £2,326,712.84, about ¢60 billion, from Gustav F.W. Hamester GmbH & Co KG, former owners of West African Mills Company Limited (WAMCO) in Takoradi.
The Chronicle further gathered from deep throat sources that the invitation extended to the duo by the BNI and EOCO was based on a petition submitted to the President by Mr. Rocky Obeng and his CAN, asking the first gentlemen of the land to cause an investigation into the case.
Rocky Obeng insists that until Betty Mould-Iddrisu, Mrs. Amma Gaisie, Solicitor General at the Attorney General’s Department, and Mr. Charles Amenyaglo, Legal Manager, Ghana Cocoa Board, were summoned, he would not appear before the two investigative bodies, hence the invitation of the former A-G.
Though there is no clear evidence that Betty Mould Iddrisu benefited financially from the case, the CNA is wondering why she failed to submit documentary evidence to the ICSID, as demanded, about the cost incurred by Ghana in pursuing the case for reimbursement from the plaintiff.
The petition, which Rocky Obeng and the CNA submitted to the presidency, a copy of which has been intercepted by The Chronicle, indicates that on September 24, 2007, pursuant to Article 36 (3) of the ICSID Convention, Gustav F.W. Hamester GmbH & Co KG, acting through their lawyers, submitted a request for arbitration against the Republic of Ghana.
Hamester’s case has been that it was entitled to damages as a result of alleged breaches by the Republic of Ghana of the Bilateral International Treaty (BIT). As a result of the breaches of the BIT, Hamester asserted that it “has suffered substantial losses in excess of 100 million Euros,” and claims:
(i) compensation for losses due to the non-supply of cocoa beans in 2002 in the total sum of EUR 33,045,031.29; (ii) loss of profit from 2003 to 2008 in the sum of EUR 27,984,000.00; (iii) loss of share of WAMCO’S profits from 2002 to 2008 in the sum of EUR 13,396,555.00; and (iv) loss of future profits in the range of EUR 37,768,000.00 to 67,042,3000.
In response to this claim, the Government of Ghana, through its Attorney General, presented a counter claim, requesting the Tribunal to; “ORDER Hamester to pay to the Government of Ghana damages, moral or otherwise, for losses it and/or the Ghana Cocoa Board have sustained as a result of Hamester’s conduct in such sum as the Tribunal, during the course of the arbitrary proceeding, may determine as a result of its enquiry into damages, plus interest per annum.
On 31st August, 2009, the petition noted that the Attorney General of the Republic of Ghana, in statements of costs to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”), claimed that it had spent a total of £2,326,712.84.
This amount included arbitration costs advance paid to the ICSID of US$305,000 by the Attorney-General.
The ICSID, in its ruling on the matter, brought out the following important information about the directors of Hamester, Messrs Holzapfel and Opferkuch, and states they had given incoherent and patently dishonest explanations as to why they caused the false receipts for consultancy services and public relations to be issued to WAMCO, and subsequently, transferred to the Republic of Ghana.
Again, the Tribunal quoted article 5 of the ILC, and stated emphatically that there was nothing to suggest that the Republic of Ghana could be in breach of the Bilateral International Treaty between Germany and Ghana, under which Hamester had dragged Ghana to that platform for claims in excess of 100 million Euros. The tribunal dismissed all the claims of Hamester and ruled in favour of the Republic of Ghana.
The tribunal further concluded that for it to be able to award the counterclaim of the cost of arbitration, as filed earlier by the Republic of Ghana (in excess of the amount of £2,326,712.84), the Attorney-General needed to bring before it evidence and documents to merit the quantum and counterclaim.
Interestingly, the Tribunal further noted that the Republic of Ghana had failed to particularise and substantiate the basis for, and quantum of, any losses that are said to have been suffered by the Republic of Ghana itself. And on that basis, refused to award the counterclaim to Ghana, and advised therefore, that each party should bear its own legal fees and expenses.
“Indeed, these revelations were discovered after months of painstaking investigations, and in view of that, The Centre for National Affairs respectfully requests the Office of the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, to invite Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu (Former Attorney-General & Minister of Justice), Mrs. Amma Gaisie, (Solicitor General, Republic of Ghana) and Mr. Charles Amenyaglo (Legal Manager, Ghana Cocoa Board) for further clarity on this matter to assist the people of Ghana retrieve their monies from Gustav F W Hamester GmbH & Co KG,” the petition noted.
“Again, The Centre for National Affairs respectfully request His Excellency The President of The Republic of Ghana to institute a full scale investigation into the activities of Hosta International AG, Muenchenstein, Switzerland, which fraudulently showed itself as having acquired all of the 60% share capital of Hamester in West African Mills Ltd, which is still operating in the country under the fraudulent share capita transfer agreement.
“The track record of Hamester and its accomplice – Hosta International AG, Muenchenstein, Switzerland – has been described in the view of the tribunal, as far as its dealings with Cocoa Board and WAMCO is concerned, as fraudulent,” the petition added.
The CNA petition further argued: “It would be seen as defeat of the government’s own effort at fighting economic crimes and fraud in Ghana, if government does not investigate the activities of the above-mentioned German companies.
“Your Excellency, the depth of fraud visited on our dear nation and its people by this syndicate is really alarming. This is contained in the final judgments of the International Centre for The Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).”
How The Chronicle reported the story in 2004
Meanwhile, in April 2004, this reporter, who was then the Western Regional Editor of The Chronicle, filed a report about the same WAMCO and its German owners for swindling the government and the people of Ghana. The following was how the case was reported then.
Hamester Inc., a German conglomerate and joint owners of West African Mills Company Limited (WAMCO), a Takoradi-based cocoa processing firm, is reported to have swindled the government of Ghana to the tune of 38 million euros (about ¢380 billion) and smuggled its local representative, Mr. Michael Holzapfel, who was managing WAMCO out of the country in March last year.
The Chronicle’s investigations revealed that 23 million euros of the amount represented credit the company should have advanced to the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) for cocoa beans sold to WAMCO.
Ten million euros also represented interest on the sale of cocoa products produced by WAMCO, which Hamester had the sole responsibility of marketing in Germany and other European countries. The remaining 5 million euros was allegedly borrowed from the Barclays Bank, Ghana by Mr. Holzapfel in his capacity as managing director of WAMCO, with the backing of Hamester, and without the knowledge and approval of the WAMCO Board of Directors.
Holzapfel was again, alleged to have taken an overdraft to the tune of $450,000 from the same bank in the name of WAMCO, but failed to pay back before he unceremoniously left the country on March 8th 2003 for Germany.
Hamester entered into the joint venture agreement with the government under the auspices of COCOBOD to run WAMCO in 1992. Under the agreement, Hamester acquired 60% shares with the remaining 40% going to the government of Ghana, with the German company exercising management control.
COCOBOD was to supply raw cocoa beans on a day 60-day credit basis to WAMCO for processing and export, and though WAMCO processed and exported all the final products, it refused to pay back the price of the processed cocoa to the government.
Instead, the company kept the money, amounting to 23 million euros, plus the interest for the sale of the products, totalling 10 million euros, in German banks. The money should have been transferred to WAMCO accounts in Ghana, The Chronicle learnt.
It also turned out that all along COCOBOD had been selling the cocoa beans below the world market price to WAMCO, but it decided to stop the offer, and instead, insisted that WAMCO and other local cocoa processing firms buy the beans at the world market price.
This decision by COCOBOD led to a misunderstanding between it and Hamester, who insisted that they could not buy the beans in Ghana at the world market price.
Hamester reportedly argued that even in Europe, cocoa-processing companies usually bought inferior beans from other cocoa producing countries to mix with quality beans from Ghana.
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