……..President’s Expatriate Advisor, Finance Minister’s ‘Business Partner’, was first to pay

Re-harp on the pay-per-view style levies that were charged expatriate business owners, as precondition for sharing dinner table with President Akufo-Addo, at the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards, has teased out an overlooked but very interesting tit bit.

Flagstaff House’ supposed ignorance about the Trade Ministry’s decision to charge the extortionate $100,000 per expatriate investor is in spite of the fact that a man who hobnobs with the President was the first to pay.

Mr. Saied Assad Fakhry, Founder and Chairman of Interplast Limited, whose name keeps coming up as the expatriate who was the first to pay the $100, 000, and therefore sat closest to the President, is also advisor to President Akufo-Addo.

In addition to Interplast which Mr. Fakhry owns, the man is also a Board Member of a real estate company called Dream Realty. As part of his credentials on the website of Dream Realty, Saied Assad Fakhry lists proudly that he is an advisor to the Republic of Ghana.

“…a member of the Advisory Council of the President of Ghana and an Honorary Consul of the Union of Comoros,” the Saied Fakhry credential on the website of Dream Realty partly reads.

It is a major surprise therefore that an advisor to President Akufo-Addo, who is only a telephone call away from the President, was asked to pay a whopping $100,000 as precondition for sharing a table with the President at the Expatriate Awards program and somehow the man never picked a phone to mention it to the President.

On Friday, Trades Minister, Alan Kyerematen, who claims that his Ministry had not sanctioned the extortionate payments, told the five-member ad hoc committee of Parliament probing the issue that Mr. Fakhry was one of seven business CEOs who had paid the levy before the GEBA program had started. He had paid by cheque according to Kyertematen.

The Minister’s single out of the Dream Realty Board Member, Interplast boss, and Presidential advisor’s quick payment of the money resonates with reports already in the media that the man was the first to pay the humongous $100,000 demanded as precondition for sharing table with the lion of the hill.

Even more interesting, Assad Fakhry’s involvement with President Akufo-Addo goes beyond his advisorial role to the President. The man is also entangled with Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, who is a cousin to the President.

Readers would recall that late last year, The Republic had published a story about Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta’s alleged purchase of shares in a Tudu based upmarket luxury tower called The Octagon – a multi-purpose tower complete with a hotel, offices,  living apartments and a helipad.

The Octagon, as had been reported, belonged to Dream Realty until a brother of Ken Ofori-Atta, one Kwame Ofori-Atta, had allegedly hauled a whopping $12.5million to Mr. Assad Fakhry’s Dream Realty to purchase shares in that luxury tower.

The transaction is said to be made through an offshore company registered in Lebanon (details still eemerging).

It would be recalled that as part of investigations into the Finance Minister’s alleged purchase of shares in the Octagon, The Republic had contacted a son of Mr. Saied Assad Fakhry to cross check facts. Mr. Hayssam Fakhry, who is a Director in Dream Realty, had said that he could neither confirm nor deny whether the Finance Minister had bought majority shares in the Octagon.

According to him however, it was possible that the Ofori-Attas had acquired majority shares in the Octagon but that only his father was privy to such information. The younger Fakhry had also confirmed that the Ofori-Attas are friends to his family.

But Mr. Saied Assad Fakhry, his father, was outside the country at the time that The Republic was speaking with him on phone, Hassam has said.

The Republic had also reported allegation that the Fakhry family had generously donated to the campaign of President Akufo-Addo when he was flagbearer of the ruling NPP in the build up to the 2016 elections.

It is in spite of all these connectivity between the Fakhrys and President Akufo-Addo and his cousin, the Finance Minister, that the President made a claim that when his own advisor was asked to pay $100,000 as precondition for sitting by him at the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards, he (President Akufo-Addo) had been unaware.

Interestingly, the President’s claim of ignorance has been in spite of the fact that Deputy Minister for Trade, Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah, had said in response to the explosion of the extortion scandal that the decision to charge the levies had been made at the Flagstaff House.

According to news reports, Mr. Ahenkorah, as part of his defense of his Ministry over the issue had said that it was only two expatriate business owners who had paid to sponsor the awards in return for the opportunity to sit close to the President.

However, on Friday, sector Minister, Alan Kyeremateng, told the ad hoc committee set up to investigate the issue that a total 17 expatriate CEOs had sat by the President during the event. Seven CEOs had paid before the event while three had paid after the event.

“Three CEOs are yet to pay”, Kyeremateng had said.

On December 8, 2017, the Trade Ministry, along with the Millennium Excellence Foundation, had organized a program to award expatriate business owners in Ghana supposedly in celebration of their contribution to Ghana’s economy at the Movenpic hotel in Accra.

Strangely, even though the program was to award the expatriates, the same expatriates had been asked to pay $100, 000 each, which according Minority Chief Whip, Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, was demanded as an extortionate precondition to share table with the President. The Trade Ministry claims it was sponsorship.

Acting on its belief that the levies had been extortions, the Minority demanded a probe by Parliament, which led to the constitution of the five member ad hoc committee, chaired by the Majority Chief Whip, Kwasi Ameyaw Cheremeh, to probe it.

Curiously, the Parliamentary ad hoc committee is coming after President Akufo-Addo claimed to have summoned Trade Minister, Alan Kyeremanten, to the Flagstaff House over the issue and cleared him and the Ministry of any wrongdoing.



Source: Badu


The Republic News Online

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