Apparently, recent accusations leveled against the immediate past chief executive of the Microfinance and Small Loan Centre (MASLOC), Sedina Tamakloe Ationu, to the effect that she had inflated the cost of 350 vehicles purchased for the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) was a deliberate red herring.
As actors of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) regime, including current MASLOC CEO, Stephen Amoah, stirred a tornado in a tea cup with the claim that the cars had been abandoned to rot by the GPRTU because of padded cost, the same Stephen Amoah had ordered 1,800 brand new cars in the name of MASLOC.
He had done so under very interesting circumstances, including apparently importing the cars through a company belonging to a regime actor.
Mr. Amoah had also seemingly entered an agreement for the cars to be supplied to MASLOC by a private car sales company, without recourse to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA), even as he swerved a local supplier of the car manufacturer.
The Republic has heard that the procurement of the vehicles had also been done with the Legal Director of MASLOC sidelined, while the CEO and the Director of Finance commandeered the whole process in blatant vandalism of standards of practice.
A very interesting eye-brow raiser in the whole deal is that the cars are actually over-aged – 2011 model of Fiat Panda.
The agreement for Dextro Impex Company Limited to supply MASLOC with 1,800 units of 2011 model FIAT Panda had been signed in as far back as August, 2017. This was two clear months before it would suddenly emerge in October that 100 Chevrolet Spark, 150 Chevrolet Aveo and 100 Izusu bus vehicles, ordered by MASLOC in 2016, had been left at the mercy of the weather to rot.
And that the cars, which had been procured for the GPRTU had been abandoned because former MASLOC CEO, Sedina Tamakloe Ationu, had padded their prices.
As it emerged that the 2016 negotiations between MASLOC and MAC Auto had stalled when the NDC lost power in December of that year and therefore no money had been paid by the company, Mr. Stephen Amoah had 1,800 over-aged and second-hand Fiat Pandas in the pipeline.
The Sedina Tamakloe accusation appears to have been intentionally engineered to give the public impressions that MASLOC needed to order for new cars.
Dextro Impex Company Limited, the company which has been contracted to supply the cars, allegedly belongs to Nii Teiko Tagoe, a presidential staffer. At a unit price of Ghc16 000 Dextro stands to be paid Ghc28.8million for the supply contract.
A copy of an agreement that had been signed to this effect with MASLOC, stipulates that a down-payment of 10% of the total contract cost be made to Dextro ahead of the cars being brought in and test-run.
With MASLOC’s CEO, Stephen Amoah, signing on behalf of MASLOC, and Managing Director of Dextro Impex, Silas Boahen, signing on behalf of Dextro, the agreement had also stipulated that MASLOC issue a Letter of Comfort to give a good layer of guarantee to the deal.
A copy of the agreement which The Republic has intercepted is not dated, even though per other relevant documents, the agreement had been signed in August, this year.
According to the agreement, Dextro Auto, upon receiving 10% down payment, will import the cars starting with a first consignment of 300 units with the remaining 1,500 imported over a five-month period.
A sweetheart deal, Dextro Auto gets to be in charge of supplying spare parts and after sales services for the cars at extra cost after the importation, in spite of the fact that Ghana has a popular spare parts hub at Abossey Okai.
On its part, MASLOC is to, after the 10% down payment, cough up the remainder of the Ghc28.8million over a 30-month period. But to give surety for the payment of the money, MASLOC had to issue a letter of comfort.
As part of the same surety, MASLOC agreed to open a special purpose joint bank account with Dextro Auto, even though once the cars arrive it is MASLOC that will have the responsibility to clear them.
Letter of Comfort
The Republic has since seen a copy of the Letter of Comfort and can report that even though a letter of comfort is ordinarily not supposed to be legally binding, this one carries a legal tone that appears to bind MASLOC to the agreement with Dextro Impex.
In this legal entanglement, MASLOC promises to abide by all stipulations of the agreement, including promptly communicating a decision to end the agreement on time to Dextro Impex if the need arises.
Strangely, in spite of the legal tone, the witness to the Letter of Comfort was not its director of Legal Affairs, but its Director of Finance.
Appearing to be hurriedly signed off, the Letter of Comfort had not been dated officially, with, Francis Bandah, the Director of Finance, who had witnessed, only scribbling down the date on which he witnessed in a rather scantly legible penmanship.
That date is 11th August, 2017.
Interestingly, the agreement with Dextro Impex Company Limited to supply secondhand cars to MASLOC at a cost of Ghc28.8million is a deal that bypasses a local supplier of the manufacturer of Fiat, called Tannik Ghana Limited.
It is not clear if Tannik would supply 2011 model of Fiat Panda in Ghana at a cost of Ghc16, 000 at clearing cost to the buyer.
The Republic has attempted to do background searches on Dextro Impex Company Limited so that any track record can be appraised, but the company does not even seem to have a presence on the internet.
Questions have therefore naturally emerged as to what attracted MASLOC to give a contract worth a whopping Ghc28.8million to this company to supply secondhand vehicles.
Alleged crony company for insider dealing
It has been alleged by sources that Dextro Impex belongs to Presidential Staffer, Nii Teiko Tagoe.
Mr. Tagoe was recently embroiled in the attempts by the government and the Ghana Police to cover up the corruption scandal involving two deputy Chiefs of Staff at Korlebu, Francis Asenso Boakye and Samuel Abu Jinapor.
The Presidential Staffer was the one who had first received a copy of musician, Kwame A Plus’ recording of ACP Tiwaa Addo-Danquah’s secret confession that indeed corruption had been uncovered at Korlebu.
Upon receipt, Mr. Tagoe had forwarded the audio to the ruling NPP’s National Youth Organizer, Sammy Awuku, and asked that everything be done to ensure it does not come out, even though the audio eventually leaked.
In addition to the questionable connection of Nii Teiko Tagoe in this MASLOC deal with Dextro Impex, the conduct of Mr. Stephen Amoah, the CEO of MASLOC, in this transaction, has also raised questions.
People are wondering how he managed to issue a Letter of Comfort to Dextro without recourse to Cabinet, the Chief of Staff, Finance Minister, and even the director of Legal Affairs at MASLOC.
It is said that under normal circumstance, the issuance of the Letter of Comfort should have followed an elaborate protocol that would start with MASLOC writing to the Chief of Staff to obtain permission to buy the cars since MASLOC is under the Office of the President.
The Chief of Staff was then supposed to have taken the matter up with Cabinet, which in the event of approval, would then request a waiver from the Public Procurement Authority to enable the government to sole-source the supply of vehicles.
Once the PPA agreed, then the Finance Minister would be notified to clear it with Parliament, before any monies would be released towards the purchase.
However, even though the agreement with Dextro Impex has already been signed and the Letter of Comfort issued, the paper trail is just not available, indicating that even the PPA had been sidelined.
According to the agreement, MASLOC would have to make a 10% down payment before the first consignment of the second-hand vehicles would hit shore in Ghana. It is not indicated anywhere in the agreement what would be done if the cars turn out to be bad upon test-runs.
As the Legal Officer at MASLOC was sidelined in the deal, it is not clear if he would be in position to prosecute on behalf of MASLOC if the deal turns bad.
Again, the opportunity cost in choosing Dextro Impex, over Fiat’s local supply company, Tannik Ghana Limited, is not known.