It will be recalled that sections of the media reported the detention of an aircraft in Istanbul, Turkey, allegedly carrying 1.5 tonnes of gold originating from Ghana and destined for the Islamic Republic of Iran. It was widely conjectured by a known political institute, that the said shipment was payment by Ghana in respect of some financial transaction with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Government, in two separate responses, denied any involvement in the use of gold to settle any transaction with the Government of Iran. The first was by Presidential Spokesperson John Jinapor and the second by Dr Raymond Atuguba, Executive Secretary of the President. Following that denial President John Dramani Mahama directed that the matter be investigated by the security agencies.
Preliminary reports of investigations conducted by the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) makes some important findings.
Two Ghanaians – Peter Bedzrah and Fredrick Kojo Essumang, operating under the corporate identity of Omanye Gold Mining Ltd from a house at Tanta Hill in Achimota without visible signs of a corporate entity, were involved in a transaction to supply gold to one Vahid Moradi Moghaddam.
A ULS cargo aircraft (Airbus 300-B4) arrived at the Kotoka International Airport from Tripoli, Libya and filed a Landing Clearance Request form in which they indicated that they were to lift gold bars as their cargo
The consignment arrived at the KIA for pre-export formalities under two certificates for “mineral samples” for “laboratory analysis only and of no commercial value” both signed for the Director of Geological Survey by one Dr Thomas Adu but with one dated 31st December 2012 and the second dated 7th January 2013. The said “mineral samples” were consigned to an address in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
At the airport, one Isaac Anakwa Asante, Head of Operations of Menzies Airline Handling Services which handled the aircraft from touchdown to departure and who inspected the cargo before scanning by Nick TC-Scan reported sighting gold bars. The exporter, Kofi Bedzrah of Omanye Gold Mining Ltd also insists his company exported gold bars of 1.5 tonnes. He claims it is worth $62,000,000.
However, the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (CD/GRA) Instructions for the Dispatch of Goods (IDG) form entered the goods as “mineral samples”. The pre-departure formalities were endorsed by Kwesi Avemee, a collector of CD/GRA and Albert Kan Dapaah, a Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) official. While mineral samples do not attract tax liability, it was found unusual to have mineral samples shipped in such tonnage.
The cargo departed Accra on 31st December 2012 with the goods which was destined for Dubai but was detained in Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey on 1st January, 2013 because of claims of questionable documentation.
Investigations are on-going but it is obvious from the preliminary findings that the Government of Ghana was not involved with the transaction as conjectured in sections of the media.
The BNI is still carrying out investigations into the discrepancy in description of the shipment at various times as mineral samples and gold bullion during the export process. Efforts are being made to trace Mr. Moghaddam and interrogation of persons involved is still ongoing. An update on the case would be provided as and when additional facts become available.
HON MAHAMA AYARIGA3
MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND MEDIA RELATIONS