AMA boss wanted bribe – American company alleges

General News of Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Source: The Chronicle

Accra Mayor Alfred Vanderpuye 301009

TJGEM, LLC, the American-based development company which has sued Ghana and some public officials claiming a total compensation of $511 million over the botched Accra sewer contract…,

…has alleged in the writ of summons that the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) Chief Executive, Dr. Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije, on three different occasions, demanded they (TJGEM) pay him bribe and kick-back when the contract negotiations were ongoing.

According to the 56-page writ of summons, which the plaintiff claimed to have served on the defendants, after both parties had agreed that the Accra Sewer project be executed, Dr. Alfred Okoh Vanderpuije invited representatives of the plaintiff to Accra for further discussions, having earlier given the assurance that the contract would definitely be given to them.

When the representatives of the plaintiff met with the Mayor, he reiterated his position that the AMA would adopt the contract in that he had the full support of the assembly members, and that they would vote for the contact upon his recommendation.

According to the plaintiff’s representatives, they then advised the Mayor that once the contact was signed, TJGEM would seek the appropriate financing for the project. The TJGEM representatives thereafter met with a potential financial source to discuss the financing of the project.

The plaintiff further alleged that a few days after meeting the Mayor, the latter requested that the TJGEM team meet with him in the park grounds of the Kwame Nkrumah Circle. They described the Kwame Nkrumah Circle as a busy and noisy area of Accra, and that although it contained park grounds, it is not a park which hosts visitors, thus, the only persons in the park at the time the TJGEM’s representatives were there, was the Mayor, a few of his aides, and persons who had need to discuss official business with the Mayor, or who were petitioning the Mayor for aid, assistance, or support for some project, issue, or privilege.

The plaintiff alleges that while its representatives were having a private discussion about the sewer project with the Mayor at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, outside of the presence of his aides and others who were present in the park, he stated that those public officials who would be involved in the approval process for the sewer project would expect that he (Vanderpuije) would be paid bribes or kickbacks for support for the project, and that he would share said bribes and kickbacks with the said public officials in order to receive their support for the project.

According to the representatives, they were not receptive to his suggestion or intimation that TJGEM must pay bribes and kickbacks in order for it to be awarded the sewer project contract, but stated emphatically that TJGEM would not be a party to any such corrupt practices, and simply inquired as to any additional information that he may need from TJGEM about the scope and cost of the project, as well as the valuable proprietary project work product that had been submitted to him.

The writ quoted Dr. Okoe Vanderpuije, after rejecting his bribe demand, as saying that he was not in need of any additional information from TJGEM, and the meeting ended with the understanding that Dr. Gideon Adjetey, who is one of the plaintiffs, would remain in Ghana to sign the contract for TJGEM upon the adoption thereof by the AMA, which was never done, and Adjetey flew back to the US.

Dr. Adjetey, thereafter, periodically called the Mayor in Accra for an update, but was advised that the contract would be adopted by the AMA and signed in the near future, however, no contract was ever signed.

The plaintiff noted that the Mayor’s representations to TJGEM’s representatives that the AMA had the power to enter into a contract and to finance the sewer project were false and fraudulent.

“After further research, TJGEM’s General Counsel determined that under the Republic of Ghana’s governing system, only the central government could contract for and finance the sewer project or any other such project, in that political subdivisions in the Republic of Ghana are not granted power under its Constitution and statutes to enter into contracts nor to borrow funds, rather, under Ghana’s Constitution and statutes, the central government borrows funds, and the central government, by and through its cabinet level members, enter into contracts, subject to the approval of Parliament,” the write noted.

According to the plaintiff, the cabinet level official that had the power to enter into the sewer project contract was the Minister of Finance, subject to being adopted and approved by the Ghanaian Parliament and President.

“Since TJGEM’s General Counsel had served in the Missouri General Assembly for fourteen years, he was familiar with drafting legislation, and therefore, he drafted and submitted proposed legislation to the Mayor for submission to the Ghanaian Parliament that would allow the AMA to enter in the sewer project contract, and to issue bonds to finance the project, similar to bonding provisions under various federal, state and local laws in the U.S., however, nothing was done with said legislation, nor said contract, and nothing was heard from the Mayor of Accra until October, 2011,” the plaintiff said.

According to plaintiff, at another meeting, Okoh Vanderpuije requested that TJGEM seek funding of the project from the Export-Import Bank, and advised that once TJGEM secured a Letter of Interest from the Exim Bank, it should return to Accra to meet with him, and the project then would be presented to the Minister of Finance with his support, for approval.

“He (Vanderpuije) reminded them (TJGEM team) of his conversation in Kwame Circle, and stated that several unnamed government officials ‘would have to be taken care of’ for the contract to be signed. TJGEM’s representatives responded, once again, that it would not be a party to any corrupt practices, and instead, simply advised the Mayor that they would get back to him on the project, once they secured financing from the Exim Bank,” the plaintiff stated in the writ.

“Mayor Vanderpuije represented to Weaver and Walton (directors of TJGEM) that he would submit such a letter of support of the sewer project to the Minister of Finance, however, he again stated that the contract would only be signed after unnamed government officials were ‘taken care of’.”

“Walton and Weaver requested that he be specific as to how said officials were to be ‘taken care of’, to which he responded, “You know the game!”

Walton then responded that he was not going to play any games, but that he would make his best efforts to secure the financing, so that a contract could be signed between TJGEM and Ghana, and the sewer project completed.

They, furthermore, advised him that in the interim they would be returning to the US to await word of the signing of the contract.

Meanwhile, the following is the continuation of the writ which we started publishing last Friday.

41. TJGEM determined that as a developer, the first subcontractor that must be employed on such a project was a project program and construction manager; thus one of the companies that TJGEM interviewed and consulted with, as to said sewer project, was Kwame Construction Company, a project and construction management firm located in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

42. Included in the meeting was Anthony Thompson, President of the company, Craig Lucas, a Vice-President of Kwame, and other staff personnel of Kwame, including an engineer who had international infrastructure projects experience.

43. Thompson, Lucas and the other staff personnel of Kwame are professional engineers licensed in the state of Missouri, USA.

44. TJGEM related to Kwame’s principals the communications that had been had with Mayor Vanderpuije and the opportunity to reconstruct the sewer system in Accra, and the need for Kwame to send one of its engineers to Accra to review the project, and to make recommendations to the Mayor of Accra as to how the flooding problem might be alleviated.

45. Kwame, which has a national presence throughout the United States, advised that it thought it was a great economic opportunity to expand its business into the international market, and agreed to dispatch Craig Lucas to Accra to survey the sewer system, and make a preliminary recommendation to the Mayor as to the sewer project.

46. TJGEM’s General Counsel, in consultation with these various architects, engineers, construction managers, general contractors and sewer district personnel, as well as by reviewing various documentation provided by these sources, prepared, at great expense in professional time and money, a preliminary proposal and contract with attachments to be presented to the Mayor in Accra, subject to being modified or revised once an engineering survey of Accra had been completed, and the Mayor or his staff had reviewed same.

47. In March, 2011, TJGEM, at great expense of time and money, sent a team of legal, financial and engineering professionals to visit the Mayor of the city of Accra, with the expectation that the AMA would enter into an agreement for TJGEM being engaged to build and repair the sewer system in Accra, in order to minimise flooding and to save both lives and property, as well as reduce the health risks from the open trench sewer system currently in use in the city of Accra.

48. The team included Walton and Gideon Adjetey of TJGEM, and Lucas of Kwame.

49. Mark Adjetey of TJGEM also traveled with the team to provide liaison and marketing assistance on the project.

50. Upon arrival in Accra, Walton, Lucas, Gideon Adjetey and Mark Adjetey met with the Mayor of Accra in his city hall office to discuss the sewer project, and to present a proposed ordinance and contract with attachments, including a project summary, to the Mayor.

51. TJGEM’s team was directed by the Mayor to discuss the project with his staff of engineers, city manager, and city attorney (city solicitor).

52. The Mayor directed the city solicitor to review the proposed contract. In addition, the Mayor directed various city employees or personnel to work with the TJGEM team to determine the scope of the sewer project.

53. The TJGEM team met with the City Manager and various city engineers and personnel to review any existing sewer system documentation, surveys and maps, and to arrange for a visual survey of the existing sewer system, as well as to view the waterways, rivers, streams, creeks, and flood plains in Accra.

54. Lucas, Gideon Adjetey and Mark Adjetey, accompanied by said various staff engineers and personnel of the AMA, visually surveyed the existing sewer system in Accra, and viewed various waterways, streams, creeks, rivers and flood plains in Accra, while Walton negotiated with the city solicitor on a contract to be entered into between TJGEM and AMA for the reconstruction project, as well as an Ordinance to be enacted by the AMA for adoption of the contract.

55. After the TJGEM and Kwame team surveyed the flood plains, sewer systems, creeks, streams and rivers in the city of Accra, TJGEM, again, discussed its proposal to the Mayor to reconstruct the sewer systems within the Accra Metropolitan District, in order to control, alleviate and minimise any flooding that may be caused by storm rainwater, as well as to eliminate the health hazards caused by the open trench sewer systems currently employed in Accra.

56. Upon Lucas’ completion of the sewer system and waterways survey, and discussions with various staff or personnel of the AMA, Walton met with Lucas to finalize a proposed contract which would give a detailed description of the project and the cost thereof, and, thereafter, Walton also met with the city solicitor and various AMA staff or personnel to revise and modify the contents or terms of a contract that had been previously submitted to the city solicitor.

57. The city solicitor and Walton then tentatively agreed upon the terms of a contract for the sewer project to be entered into between TJGEM and the AMA, that should be submitted to the Mayor for presentation to the AMA, which estimated the maximum cost to alleviate flooding through reconstruction of various phases or parts of the sewer system in the city of Accra, at $500,000,000.

58. It was determined that the sewer system project would not be limited to dispersing storm water, but that it would be a combination waste water removal system as well.

59. It was also determined that upon completion of the project, user fees could be imposed to pay for the operation and maintenance of the system, as well as to recoup its initial construction costs, in part, if not in whole.

60. The contract was then presented to Mayor Vanderpuije, who agreed to the scope and terms thereof, and represented to TJGEM that he would present the contract to the AMA for its approval, and that he would advise TJGEM thereof, after said contract was adopted by the AMA.

61. The Mayor assured TJGEM that the AMA would adopt the contract, in that he had the full support of the AMA, and thus, they would vote for the contact upon his recommendation that they vote for same.

62. TJGEM advised the Mayor that once the contact was signed, TJGEM would seek the appropriate financing for the project.

63. TJGEM representatives thereafter met with a potential financial source to discuss potential financing of the project.

64. A few days later, the Mayor requested the TJGEM team to meet with him in the park grounds of Kwame Circle.

65. Kwame Circle is located in a busy and noisy area of the city.

66. Although it contains park grounds, it is not a park which hosts visitors, thus, the only persons in the park at the time TJGEM’s representatives were there was the Mayor, a few of his aides, and persons who had need to discuss official business with the Mayor, or who were petitioning the Mayor for aid, assistance, or support for some project, issue, or privilege.

67. While having a private discussion about the sewer project with the Mayor in Kwame Circle, outside of the presence of his aides and others who were present in the park, the Mayor stated that those public officials who would be involved in the approval process for the sewer project would expect that he would be paid bribes or kickbacks for support of the project, and that he would share said bribes and kickbacks with said public officials, in order to receive their support for the project.

68. None of the members of the TJGEM team were receptive to his suggestion or intimation that TJGEM must pay bribes and kickbacks in order for TJGEM to be awarded the sewer project contract, but stated emphatically that TJGEM would not be a party to any such corrupt practices, and simply inquired as to any additional information that he may need from TJGEM about the scope and cost of the project, as well as the valuable proprietary project work product that had been submitted to him.

69. The Mayor advised that he was not in need of any additional information from TJGEM, and the meeting ended with the understanding that Dr. Gideon Adjetey would remain in Ghana to sign the contract for TJGEM upon the adoption thereof by the AMA.

70. The Mayor, thereafter, began to meet privately in the park with other individuals who had problems or issues that needed to be addressed or solved by the Mayor’s intervention.

71. The TJGEM representatives then left the park.

72. Walton and Lucas then returned to the USA to await word from the Mayor or Gideon Adjetey as to the AMA’s adoption of the contract.

73. Dr. Gideon Adjetey remained in Accra to work with the Mayor on the adoption of the contract by the AMA. Several weeks passed, without the contract being passed, and Dr. Adjetey returned to the USA to await word from the Mayor as to adoption of the contract by the AMA.

74. In March, 2011, the Mayor visited Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and had discussions with Dr. Adjetey about the progress of the adoption of the sewer project by the AMA.

75. He, once again, assured Dr. Adjetey that the contract would be passed by the AMA.

76. Dr. Adjetey, thereafter, periodically called the Mayor in Accra for an update, and would be advised that the contract would be adopted by the AMA and signed in the near future. However, no contract was ever signed.

77. The Mayor’s representations to TJGEM’s representatives that the AMA had the power to enter into a contract and to finance the sewer project were false and fraudulent.

78. After further research, TJGEM’s General Counsel determined that under the Republic of Ghana’s governing system, only the central government could contract for and finance the sewer project or any other such project, in that political subdivisions in the Republic of Ghana are not granted power under its constitution and statutes to enter into contracts nor to borrow funds. Rather, under Ghana’s constitution and statutes, the central government borrows funds, and the

Central Government, by and thorough its cabinet level members, enters into contracts, subject to the approval of Parliament.

79. The cabinet level official that had the power to enter into the sewer project contract is the Minister of Finance, subject to being adopted and approved by the Ghanaian Parliament and President.

80. Since TJGEM’s General Counsel had served in the Missouri General Assembly for fourteen years, he was familiar with drafting legislation, and therefore, he drafted and submitted proposed legislation to the Mayor for submission to the Ghanaian parliament that would allow the AMA to enter in the sewer project contract, and to issue bonds to finance the project, similar to bonding provisions under various federal, state and local laws in the U.S, However, nothing was done with said legislation, nor said contract, and nothing was heard from the Mayor of Accra until October, 2011.

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