The brain behind the famous Obotan Project, Ken Ofori-Atta, is not happy about recent media reports which seek to portray him as a fraudster.
The Obotan Project was a proposed construction of a gated community on the Independence Avenue in Accra, hatched in 1998.
It was devised by a group of investors and promoters, including Ken, and sought financial backing from other investors, including SSNIT, but could not take off due to some setbacks.
In a statement, Ken said, ?Over the last few weeks, I have been subjected to a deliberate, politically motivated, unpatriotic, and shameful campaign of harassment and defamation at the hands of certain government officials, journalists, media outlets, including the Daily Post, The Republic, The Daily Dispatch, and The Insight.?
He believed this to be part of a grand agenda to divert
attention from the government?s inability to tell Ghanaian workers where their ?pension money? had been placed.
Instead, he explained that ?Contrary to false and malicious media reports, the Obotan Project was a credible development project and each of the stakeholders was determined to make the project a success? and that ?there is no basis whatsoever for alleging that the project was any kind of fraud.?
?SSNIT was not defrauded of their investment in any shape or form and, in fact, as set out below, SSNIT?s equity in the Obotan Project was subsequently purchased by Databank when it transpired that SSNIT was not going to be in a position to continue in their role in the Project. The reason for this is that from 2000 onwards, SSNIT became beleaguered by allegations and investigations into their portfolio of investments,? he emphasized.
indicated that ?The?Obotan Project was stalled and during that period we approached them in order to buy out SSNIT?s equity stake in the Project.?
He further stated that following an initial failure to respond to a first offer to acquire their shares in the project, SSNIT decided to negotiate the sale of their equity stake
in 2005 and that ?contrary to media reports that ?pension money? (i.e. the SSNIT investment) was ?stolen?, it is a matter of fact
that SSNIT?s investment was purchased by Databank through a negotiated purchase of their equity interest evidenced by an agreement dated 31st?August 2005.?
According to Mr Ofori-Atta, who is co-founder of the Databank Group, ?payment under the agreement was made between June 2004 and February 2007? with the precise amount paid to SSNIT under the agreement being US$2,224,000.00?- the dollar
equivalent of the Cedi value paid by SSNIT in 1999 ? as subscription and commission for its shares, and an additional?US$78,680.00?as interest.?
He therefore, insisted that ?SSNIT got back every pesewa (or cent) it invested in the
Obotan Project, plus interest.?
In return, the statement said, ?SSNIT transferred all its shares in Obotan to Databank Financial Services by a Deed of Transfer in 2007? with the Deed of Transfer witnessed by Ernest Thompson, the General Manager and General Counsel of SSNIT at the time, who happens to be SSNIT?s Director-General today.
In this light, the businessman said, ?There is no evidential basis for any allegation of fraud in connection with the Project? whiles noting with emphasis that ?the draft SFO Report, which has been referred to in various media, was fundamentally flawed, incompetent and misconceived in many respects.?
This, he said, was due to the fact that ?it ignored the basic entrepreneurial concept that ideas, design and land as equity from one party can serve as more than sufficient basis for attracting other investors and negotiating a shareholding structure for a project.?
Eventually, Ken noted that SSNIT sold its shares in the Project after negotiations, led by their then external lawyer, Mr. S. Kwami Tetteh, for which reason he stated, ?References made by certain government officials and certain journalists and the reportage by certain media houses, suggesting criminality on my part, is nothing but a diversionary tactic by the government to avoid telling workers where their ?pension money? is.
Sometime last week, Ken said he received a call from a person who described himself as a BNI officer, and so was not surprised that news of his supposed ?arrest? was announced prematurely to the public by a government communicator on a popular radio station.
He therefore maintained, ?I will not be surprised
that I could be arrested just as happened to the Managing Director of Citi FM, Samuel Atta-Mensah, a couple of days ago, by the BNI in order to further the malicious campaign against me.?
The man has since served notice, ?I am preparing legal action against the various publications and persons who have defamed me and hereby warn any media house, which intends to publish further libelous material about me, that I will have no hesitation in taking legal action against them.?
By Charles Takyi-Boadu