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$4M ‘Ghost’ Contract Pops Up At NCA

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A witness in the trial of the five former appointees of the Mahama administration charged for causing financial loss to the State says she had no knowledge of a $4million contract between the National Communications Authority (NCA) and Infralocks Development Limited (IDL).

According to her, the contract between the Authority and IDL signed in 2015 was also not captured within the list of contacts of the NCA for that year.

Mrs. Abena Asafo Adjei, stated that she only had knowledge of the contract dated December 17, 2015 when the investigator in the case showed it to her.

“…No my lord, this document came to my attention when the investigator in this case showed it to me.”

Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, a former Board Chairman of the NCA; William Tevie, former Chief Executive Officer, NCA; Nana Owusu Ensaw; Alhaji Osman, former Deputy National Security Coordinator and George Derrek Oppong, a private businessman, and Director of IDL are before the court facing 17 charges such as conspiracy to steal, stealing, using public office for profit, money laundering, among others.

According to the prosecution, the accused persons are being tried for allegedly causing financial loss to the State to the tune of $4 million under the guise of procuring a Cyber Surveillance System which they claimed were to be used for anti-terrorism activities in the country.

Evidence

But, led in evidence by Ms. Yvonne Attakora Oboubisa, Director of Public Prosecutions, Mrs. Asafo Adjei who is also the Head of the Legal Department at the NCA was emphatic that the contract was not captured in the register of contracts of the Authority.

“…I took a copy [of the contract], scanned through the register of all our contracts and I could not find a copy in our custody.”

Th witness who also doubles as Secretary to the NCA Board told the Accra Commercial Court claimed that the document was signed by Mr. Tevie.

She stated, while taking the court through the procurement processes at NCA, that in 2015, there was no provision for supplementary budget for the acquisition of any Cyber Surveillance System.

Mrs. Asafo Adjei noted that there was no budget for the procurement of Cyber Surveillance System in the 2015 budget of NCA.

Thaddeus Sory, a member of the Defense lawyers raised objections to the tendering of the Budget and Procurement Plan of the NCA for the year 2015.

In the view of the lawyer, the witness was neither the author nor the addressee of the document and as such could not speak to its contents.

In his view, Mrs. Asafo Adjei had also not demonstrated any personal knowledge of the matter contained in it.

The trial judge, Justice Eric Kyei-Baffour, dismissed the objection indicating that the admission of the document could not in any way prejudice or embarrass the accused persons.

Sitting continues tomorrow.

Fact

The facts of the case as presented by the Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo, are that sometime in 2015, the affected board members, without any authorization, took a decision to purchase a cyber surveillance system which they claimed was to be used for anti-terrorism activities in the country.

According to the accused persons, without going through processes as established by law, together with an Israeli lawyer, Peninat Yany – who is also a business facilitator -selected NSO Group Technology Company Limited – an Israeli entity – to supply the cyber surveillance system.

She told the court that the accused persons decided to purchase the system through a re-seller and Mr. Baffoe-Bonnie nominated Derek Oppong as his business partner and Director of IDL, to be the re-seller of the system.

According to the Attorney General, IDL was the company registered to provide the logistics and infrastructure development, but investigations revealed that the supplier of the surveillance system is not an object of IDL.

Ms. Akuffo told the court that in furtherance of the decision of board members to purchase the surveillance system, Osman signed a letter dated February 21, 2016 in the name of the National Security Coordinator and directed to Tevie in his capacity as the Director General of the NCA and copied to Baffoe-Bonnie.

According to her, by the letter, the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) solicited finance of $8,000,000 for the surveillance system.

She said on the same day, Mr. Tevie endorsed the letter to the Director of Finance of the NCA, authorizing payment for the system without going through the procurement process.

She said NCA then executed a contract with IDL for the purchase of Pegasus Cyber Security System at the cost of $8,000,000 and by a second contract, IDL executed an agreement with NSO Group for the same supply of the Pegasus system at an initial cost of US$5.4 million, which later shot up to US$6 million, to include commission for the Israeli lawyer who facilitated the deal.

The AG told the court that at this point, Mr. Tetteh had already written to Ecobank to transfer US$4 million to IDL from the accounts of NCA and the transfer was subsequently executed on March 11, 2016.

She said out of the US$4 million paid, only US$1 million was paid to NSO Group for the supply of equipment, leaving US$3 million, which was withdrawn over a period and shared among the accused persons.

She said the equipment was shipped into the country on May 31, 2016 and was delivered to a private warehouse on the Spintex road, owned by Alhaji Baba Kamara, the then National Security Advisor.

The AG said when the equipment was installed in the warehouse, it was later found out that some parts were missing and the system had no software to run it, rendering it unusable.

By: Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson/ thePublisher

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