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Thursday, 23 July 2009

Rawlings Linked To $6m Bribery Case in UK

Evidence available to The Statesman suggest that perhaps as much as $6 million were paid as bribery money to top government officials under the National Democratic Congress in the government’s dealings with one foreign company alone for three projects.

The company is Mabey & Johnson of UK and the contracts involved are “Priority Bridge Programme 1”, “Priority Bridge Programme 2”, and “Feeder Roads Projects”.

According to the charge sheet of case number 0902300773, the first badges of bribery for the first project, Priority Bridge Programme 1, were paid between 01/01/1994 and 01/01/1995, from one year after the nation returned to constitutional rule under President Rawlings.

The second corruption case took place between 01/01/1995 and 01/01/1997 for the Priority Bridge Programme 2.

The third actually took place much later, still under the NDC. But, the details of the corruption case, comes directly under the watch of President Mills. More on that in the next edition.

The case will go on preliminary trial next month. And, high profile names of government officials who were paid huge sums of money are expected to be dropped.

It is the first case in which a British company is being prosecuted in the United Kingdom for engaging in corruption in a foreign country, and Ghana, under President Jerry John RawlingsandVice President John Atta Mills, is one of the countries where this corruption took place.

It takes place at Southwark Crown Court, London on August 7th.

The firm is accused of corruptly influencing politicians and officials in Ghana between 1994 and 1999 to land build-bridging contracts.

The firm, owned by one of Britain's richest families, is also accused of corruptly paying €422,000 (£363,000) toSaddam Hussein's regime between May 2001 and November 2002 and is also accused of conspiring to make corrupt payments in Jamaicabetween 1993 and 2001.

Allegations of improper payments in Jamaica emerged when Mabey and Johnson traded allegations of wrong-doing with former sales executive Jonathan Danos in a civil case. Mabey refused to say how it had settled that case. The firm Mabey has also been accused of corruption in the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Dominican Republicand Panama.

Mabey and Johnson's prosecution comes after years of attacks onLondon for its alleged hypocrisy in criticising poor countries over corruption, while failing to tackle the British companies and managers that feed it by paying bribes to win contracts.

The trial is also the next such case in recent years in Europe to which President Rawlings’ name and government have been linked. Ironically, Mr Rawlings is asking for his political opponents to be prosecuted for corruption.

In 2007, his name popped up in a Norwegian court, when former top officials of cement firm, Scancem admitted in court that they paid millions of dollars of bribe money to President and Mrs Rawlings.

Also in the UK last year, Private Eye magazine quoted the head of Biwater company as saying that he used to pay the school fees of Mr Rawlings’ children. This happened at a time that his company was bidding for a major oil contract in Ghana.

Source: The Statesman

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