We weren’t wrong about ‘fraudster’ Umar Farooq – VG



General News of Thursday, 17 December 2015

Source: citifmonline.com

Umar Farooq AmeriUmar Farpoq in front of his Rolls Royce

The Norwegian newspaper VG, which in a recent publication suggested a possible inflation of the cost of the AMERI power plants by more than 200 million dollars, has insisted the former CEO of the company, Umar Farooq is a fraudster.

AMERI in a statement on Wednesday rejected claims by VG that Umar Farooq Zahoor is a criminal who is on the wanted list of Interpol for financial crimes in Norway and Switzerland.

The statement signed by His Royal Highness, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Dalmook Juma Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Emirati Company and a member of the ruling family of UAE, stated that the wanted Farooq is not the same person who signed as witness in the Ghana – AMERI power deal.

However responding to AMERI’s concerns, VG’s News Editor, Gard Steiro in a statement on Thursday copied to citifmonline.com said it stands by its claims on Farooq, emphasizing the fact that Ghanaian authorities had chosen to strike a deal with a fraudster.

“The fact is that Umar Farooq Zahoor has been charged and wanted since 2013. According to Zurich City Court the Swiss police believe that Zahoor was involved in fraud worth 20 million dollars in total. The assistant chief of police in Oslo, Gro Smogeli, has previously stated that Zahoor was one of the main players behind the Nordea fraud. The only reason why the case has not been tried in court is that Umar Farooq Zahoor has hidden in Dubai,” the news editor concludes.

Steiro further clarified that he had never stated that Ameri group defrauded Ghanaian authorities.

“We have only reported figures from official documents such as minutes from the Ghanaian parliament and the contract signed by the sheik himself. None of the figures which VG has published are disputed. We have only pointed out that the contract for the delivery of 10 gas turbines appears to be alarmingly expensive. So far neither the energy minister nor Ameri Group have attempted to give VG anything like a credible explanation.”

Below is the full statement from Ameri

Dubai company Ameri Group now confirms that the wanted Oslo man Umar Farooq Zahoor worked as a director for the company

The press release is signed by the chairman of the company’s board, Sheik Ahmed Bin Dalmook Juma al Maktoum, a prince from Dubai, who is mentioned in VG’s article. He writes that VG has made “false and malicious accusations”.

On Saturday VG revealed that the Oslo man Umar Farooq Zahoor, who is wanted for fraud, was involved in signing a contract with the government of Ghana for the delivery of 10 gas turbines worth 510 million dollars through his job as a director of Ameri Group.

The statements made by the Dubai company have been passed to VG by Umar Farooq Zahoor’s lawyer in Norway, John Christian Elden.

Farooq Zahoor has personally requested that the press release from Ameri Group be sent on to us.

The financial aspects of the contract have created a political storm in Ghana and prompted one of Norway’s leading experts on corruption to state that there is reason to question the sums involved.

These are Ameri Group’s complaints:

His Highness Sheik Ahmed Bin Dalmook Juma al Maktoum, a member of the royal family in the United Arab Emirates, is the sole proprietor of the company. The company says that VG describes Farooq Zahoor as the owner.

The company writes that VG maliciously attempts to portray Umar Farooq as a criminal.

The sheik from Dubai also writes that Umar Farooq Zahoor signed the contract as a witness for the company’s chairman.

Ameri Group writes that VG claims in its reporting that the company from Dubai has succeeded in defrauding Ghana’s authorities of a large sum of money.

The press release claims that Umar Farooq Zahoor was never wanted for or accused of any criminality during the time when he was managing director of Ameri Group.

VG has long sought to get Ameri Group to answer questions about the terms of the agreement between the company and Ghanaian authorities, but without success.

The sheik also writes that they have already been in contact with international law firms to investigate whether they should sue VG for damages “for unfounded false accusations”.

VG’s editor responds as follows

Gard Steiro, news editor with VG, has read the press release from the Dubai-based company:

“VG can live with Sheik Ahmed Bin Dalmook Juma al Maktoum regarding our journalism as malicious. When His Highness states that we have published false accusations he should back his allegations up with facts. The sheik does not do so. The press release from Ameri Group appears to be a striking attempt to create a smokescreen. Not one single piece of information in VG’s exposé is refuted. This is not surprising. Our version is both correct and verifiable,” says news editor Gard Steiro.

He believes that Ameri Group is interpreting freely when it refers to VG’s articles.

“VG has never claimed that Umar Farooq Zahoor is the owner of Ameri Group. We wrote that he was managing director when the 500 million dollar contract was signed. This information comes from Ghana’s energy minister and other sources. We note that Ameri Group confirms his position in its press release.”

“No credible explanation”

Steiro says VG has never stated that Ameri Group defrauded the Ghanaian authorities.

“We have only reported figures from official documents such as minutes from the Ghanaian parliament and the contract signed by the sheik himself. None of the figures which VG has published are disputed. We have only pointed out that the contract for the delivery of 10 gas turbines appears to be alarmingly expensive. So far neither the energy minister nor Ameri Group have attempted to give VG anything like a credible explanation.

He believes the Big Issue is why the Ghanaian authorities have chosen to do business worth hundreds of millions with a man who is wanted for fraud.

“The fact is that Umar Farooq Zahoor has been charged and wanted since 2013. According to Zurich City Court the Swiss police believe that Zahoor was involved in fraud worth 20 million dollars in total. The assistant chief of police in Oslo, Gro Smogeli, has previously stated that Zahoor was one of the main players behind the Nordea fraud. The only reason why the case has not been tried in court is that Umar Farooq Zahoor has hidden in Dubai,” the news editor concludes.

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