Some expatriates who participated in the controversial Expatriate Business Awards ceremony that has been at the centre of the alleged cash-for-seat saga are scheduled to appear before the bi-partisan Parliamentary committee probing the matter today Tuesday].
This comes after the Committee hosted the organizers of the event, Millennium Excellence Foundation on Monday, to provide details about how the event was organized and circumstances under which monies were collected from some of the expatriates.
The Chairman of the Committee, Kwasi Ameyaw Cheremeh, told Citi News that the Committee is not certain about the number of expatriates appearing before it.
He, however, said they are ready to listen to the submissions of as many of them that present themselves.
It is alleged that the expatriates paid between $25,000 and $100,000 to sit close to President Akufo-Addo at the event which was also used to award some of the expatriate businesses.
The Trades Ministry, under whose auspices the event was organized has denied allegations of wrongdoing, while the organizers, Millennium Excellence Foundation have also debunked claims that expatriates were forced to pay monies to sit at the high table and to receive awards.
Key witnesses in the matter including Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, and his colleague Minority MP Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Trade and Industry Minister Alan Kyerematen, and officials of the Millennium Excellence Foundation have already made appearances before the Committee.
The Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, first made the extortion allegation in Parliament in December 2017.
Mr. Mubarak said the fees charged at the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards (GEBA) were not approved by Parliament, adding that the monies were also not accounted for in the Internally Generated Funds [IGF] of the Ministry’s accounts.
The issue was further reinforced by Mr. Ablakwa, who suffered verbal assaults from Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Carlos Ahenkorah over the matter.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry initially dissociated itself from these allegations.
The Trade Ministry, in a statement said it played no role in determining prices for seats at the event, and clarified that it only facilitated the implementation of a new initiative by the Millennium Excellence Foundation.
But the Ministry after an order from the President to probe the matter, clarified that an amount of GH¢2,667,215 was realized from the event.
The organizers of the Awards had also explained that no one paid to sit close to the President, and that the amount raised was gotten from sponsorship through a fundraising at the event.
The Minority moved a motion in Parliament for a further probe into the matter, and this forced the Speaker to recall MPs from their recess, leading to the formation of the Committee.