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Alleged payment of kickbacks from E-Volution International to Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah

Source: Ghana | Joy News | Manasseh Azure Awuni

Joy News investigation has uncovered alleged payment of kickbacks from E-Volution International to Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and the operations committee of the Brazil 2014.

E-Volution International, an events and marketing agency, was awarded a GH¢ 1 million contract to organise four public viewing centres in Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi during the 2014 Brazil World Cup.

Apart from the Accra Mall, the other three public viewing centres showed only the three group matches Ghana played in the tournament.

Manasseh Azure Awuni who has been investigating this deal reports that three separate internal payment vouchers in the possession of Joy News indicate E-Volution International’s approval for payment of money to former Youth and Sports Minister, Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, the GNPC and the operations committee of the Brazil 2014 World Cup.

All the three payment vouchers, dated June 11, 2014, are signed and approved by the C.E.O of E-volution International, Mr Fred Darko. Mr Fred Darko was also the project coordinator for the 2014 World Cup.

According to one of the vouchers, an amount of GH¢100,000 was to be paid to Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah as “production cost (Brazil -2014)”. Below the signatures on the payment voucher is an instruction to the Company’s accountant, Alfred: “Pls deal as PR to Elvis A. Ankrah. FD.”
Another payment voucher of GH¢100,000 with the same description was to be paid to the World Cup Committee. Below the signatures of approval is an instruction to Alfred:

“This is honorarium to Brazil 2014 committee members. Pls deal. FD.”
The final internal payment voucher, also dated June 11,2014, approves payment of GH¢80,000 as “PR-GNPC (Brazil 2014)” to the GNPC.

Joy News’ investigations further revealed that the GNPC cheque of GH¢1million was paid into E-Volution International account on June 9, 2014.
It was paid with a National Investment Bank (NIB) cheque number: 076597. The payment was made into E-volution International Account number 0001124057015 with the Airpot Branch of UT Bank.

On 10th June, 2014, the GH¢100,000 supposedly paid to Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah was withdrawn from the company’s account. On June 12th, the GH¢80,000 allegedly paid to the GNPC was withdrawn from the company’s account while the GH¢100,000 allegedly paid to the committee was also withdrawn from E-Volution International’s account on June 13th.

Joy News sources say the GNPC awarded the contract to E-Volution International without subjecting it to competitive bidding.

The Chairman of the Brazil 2014 Operations Committee, Mr Joel Nettey, told Manasseh Azure Awuni last Friday that the committee found it difficult to find sponsorship for public viewing centres and was about to abandon the idea when the GNPC stepped in with the sponsorship package.

He said though event organizers such as the Charter House Productions expressed interest in organizing the public viewing centres, officials of GNPC said they would sponsor if only the contract was awarded to E-Volution International. The GNPC officials, Joel Nettey said, explained that E-Volution International was already doing business with GNPC.

It is not clear why E-Volution would want to pay money to then Youth and Sports Minister Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, the GNPC and the Brazil 2014 World Cup Committee. Mr Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah has, however, denied receiving any such amount from E-Volution International.

“Whoever signed this document, or whoever, whether the person took it in my name or what, we need to investigate because nothing like that happened,” Mr Afriyie-Ankrah told Manasseh.

The Chairman of the World Cup Operations Committee, Joel Nettey, as well as some members of the committee, has told Joy News no such money came to the committee. A source at the GNPC who was the supposed recipient of the GH¢80,000 has also denied receiving any such amount.

Lawyer, Company Secretary and Director for E-Volution International, Alex Abban, told Joy News the company did not make any payment to the three categories of persons. When he was asked about the payment vouchers, he would not deny or confirm that they were generated from the company.

“I would not be surprised that these are documents from E-Volution. I would not want to challenge that one,” he said, adding that it did not mean an admission that the documents were from the company.

When asked about Mr Fred Darko’s signature on the three internal payment vouchers, he said one of them appeared forged but refused to comment on the other two.

“I would not want to say clearly that all three signatures are forged ones,” he told Manasseh in an interview. When Manasseh insisted that Fred Darko, who was present during the interview, confirm or deny the authenticity of his signature, Lawyer Abban said Mr Darko would not speak on the matter for now.

According to Joy News Sources, the internal payment vouchers were generated for the purposes of auditing considering the huge sums of money involved. This was decided after the first alleged withdrawal of kickback was done. When asked why the description “production cost” or “PR” was written on them, a source said:

“It is just a term used to describe such transactions. You cannot write bribe or kickbacks on the payment voucher. If you put it that way and auditors ask, how will you explain that?”

Even though Evolution International has doubted the authenticity of one of the three signatures on the payment vouchers, Alex Abban says the authenticity of the signature is not the most important issue here.

“What is critical is: was the money paid, regardless of whether there was a signature on it or not?” he emphasized.
This is the question Manasseh Azure Awuni attempts to answer as he provides more revelations on this transaction on Joy Midday News today.

Response

My attention has been drawn to a post by Manasseh Azure Awini regarding a supposed Kickback investigative story that will break on Joy news on Monday 23rd December 2014.
I categorically deny knowledge of and/or involvement in any such deal. I have been made aware of a document purported to be the payment voucher that has my name as well as Fred Darko and a staff of GNPC.
The authenticity of that document is being challenged. Indeed I am told the police has tried to invite Manasseh for the past two days but has been unsuccessful. It is important that Manasseh responds to the Police investigation to help us all unravel the true facts about these documents since it smacks of forgery.
In as much as journalists are encouraged to do their work unhindered, it is only fair that a thorough work is done before putting damaging stories out there.
An example is the Ghana Gas story by the same Manasseh, that unfolded to show that nothing untoward had gone on.
Meanwhile my lawyers are studying the issue to advise me accordingly.

From Hon. ElvisvAfriyie Ankrah.

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