The Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) is investigating some top officials of the John Mahama administration for allegedly taking $4 million from the accounts of the National Communications Authority (NCA) and failing to account for it.
Disclosing this in an exclusive interview with Joy FM’s Super Morning Show host Kojo Yankson, Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid said the three officials – Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, former Board Chairman of the NCA; William Tevie, former Chief Executive Officer of the NCA; Alhaji Osman, former Deputy National Security Coordinator – were aided by a private citizen, George Oppong to engage in the act.
According to him, the previous administration had contracted an Israeli company, NSO Group Technology Limited, to supply listening equipment at the cost of $6 million, to enable the authorities to monitor conversations of persons suspected to be engaged in terror activities. A local agent, Infraloks Development Limited, was also charging $2 million to facilitate the transaction, bringing the total sum to $8 million.
Mr. Hamid said National Security didn’t have the money to fund the transaction, therefore, the NCA which has supervisory jurisdiction over the use of such equipment was asked to fund the project.
The officials withdrew $4 million from the accounts of the NCA and paid $1 million into the accounts of the Israeli company.
According to the minister, the remaining $3 million was lodged in the accounts of George Oppong, who acted as a representative of the local agents, Infraloks Development Ltd. The entire deal was fronted by Alhaji Osman, the Minister claimed.
Soon after the National Democratic Congress lost the elections, the Israeli company approached the current administration for payment of the remaining $5 million owed it by the state. The state was compelled to investigate the transaction since there was no proof that the equipment was delivered.
Mustapha Hamid said further investigations by BNI “led to the retrieval of some equipment from a private residence purported to be listening equipment”.
“They took Four Million Dollars from NCA accounts and paid One Milion [Dollars] to Israeli company and then deposited Three Million in the accounts of the local agent, one Mr George Oppong and proceeded to share the three million dollars among themselves.”
The Information Minister gave a breakdown of how the remaining $3 million was allegedly dissipated: “Mr. Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie took $200,000; George Oppong took $100,000; William Tevie got $150,000, Alhaji Osman received $70,000,” with one other person receiving $500,000.
Sources close to William Tevie, however, say he didn’t take the money.
Mission to retrieve
All the persons involved except Alhaji Osman and Mr Tevie, have admitted to taking the money and have been granted bail after the BNI took their statements, the minister said. He added the whereabouts of Alhaji Osman, said to be the key architect of the deal, is unknown.
Mr. Hamid said the security personnel have virtually combed everywhere in the country including his village, but cannot locate him.
Mr. George Oppong according to the Minister, has refunded $1 million back to the state while Mr. Baffoe-Bonney pledged to pay a deposit of $40,000 back to the state as at last week. The rest have all promised to pay what they wrongfully earned, back to the state coffers.
“BNI hasn’t even decided at this stage because they believe that the money must be returned…if they succeed in retrieving the money then they will decide their next action,” Mr. Hamid told Kojo Yankson Wednesday, in a follow-up telephone interview on the Super Morning Show.
Loot and share
According to the briefings from the BNI, there is no record at the NCA indicating any meeting was held and a decision as such was reached to undertake such transaction thereby raising suspicion.
“The reason why this is a classical case of ‘create, loot and share’ is that…it was basically Alhaji Osman acting as Deputy National Security Coordinator, who spearheaded this deal…People cannot just go and open a state vault and take whatever that is in there,” he stated.