Bearded Okoe In $250k Row…With US Investors


From Issah Alhassan, Kumasi

1THE MAYOR of Accra, Mr. Alfred Okoe Vanderpuye, has been given up to the end of the month to fulfill a promised made to a group of investors in the United States to offer them a sanitation and waste management contract or be prepared to face a GHc 2M damage suit, both in the US and Ghana.

Some business partners in the US State of South Carolina have threatened to file a legal suit against Mr. Okoe Vanderpuye, for failing to fulfill his side of an agreement reached between the two parties in 2008, concerning a ‘Greening Ghana Project’, which was meant to deal with challenges in sanitation and waste management in the capital city.

The AMA Boss is reported to have solicited funds from some individual investors in the US, through Vanview International Enterprise, LLC, a company he founded with two partners, namely Dr. Bruce C. Watford, Senior Vice President and Kenneth G. Matheny, Vice President, with the promise of securing them a contract, once he was appointed the Mayor of Accra.

The company had a Mission Statement of bridging the business opportunity relations gap that existed between firms in US and Ghana and also lead the front for the introduction of ‘going Green’ in Ghana, involving the use of all-natural, non-toxic and non-hazardous products from janitorial and plumbing.

Against this backdrop, his two partners, Dr. Bruce Watford and Kenneth Matheny were said to have mobilised funds from interested investors in the US, numbering about seven and managed to secure a substantial amount for Dr. Vanderpuye to send down to Ghana to pursue the agenda.

The paper gathered that prominent amongst the project, as promised by the Accra Mayor, were the Lavender Hill and the Korle Lagoon, two areas which pose serious environmental sanitation challenges to Accra and its environs.

Mr. Vanderpuye, who is the President and CEO of Vanview International Enterprise, was said to have failed to honour his side of the agreement, despite receiving over $250,000 from the investors as seed money to push through the contract for the various parties.

AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE PARTIES

Under the agreement reached between the various parties, Vanview International Enterprise was expected to facilitate the interest of the company in Ghana and other African countries, with the AMA Boss playing a lead role.

Mr. Vanderpuye was expected to use the money mobilised from the seven investors to facilitate the businesses of both Vanview and Organic Products, having convinced some investors in the US about the credibility of his company and its Mission Statement.

For this reason, Dr. Bruce Watford, led a team of investors to pool resources together, through partnership with Organic Products of South Carolina and managed to secure an amount of $250,000 dollars towards the project.

However, the partners alleged that the AMA Boss, after securing the money, allegedly miseappropriated it for his personal gain and political position, failing to execute the agreement almost eight years down the line.

Several efforts to get the AMA Boss to fulfill his side of the bargain or account for the money received from the investors, had proven futile, according to the partners who claim they have been left with no choice but to use appropriate legal means to recoup their investment.

Dr. Bruce Watford, in an interview with The Chronicle from his base in South Carolina, lamented that the other six investors have been putting pressure on him to retrieve the cash, since he was the one who led the mobilisation exercise.

He revealed that since 2009, when the NDC assumed power, he has made about 15 trips to Ghana just to ensure the execution of the project, but in all cases, Dr. Okoe Vanderpuye has either refused to grant them audience or has shown lack of concern towards the fulfillment of the agreement.

He said at a point in time, Dr. Okoe Vanderpuye allegedly told them to be patient with him, because he was in line for the Vice Presidential position which would afford him the needed opportunity to push through the project.

“Right now I am under intense pressure from other partners who contributed various sums of money towards this project; I have made several trips to Ghana to meet with authorities; including ministers and other stakeholders, but it appears Dr. Vanderpuye has failed to hold his side of the bargain and all efforts to get him to do so over the years have proved unsuccessful,” a worried Dr. Bruce lamented.

DEMANDS FROM THE PARTNERS

The aggrieved partners have sworn to use every available means to recover their investments.

Dr. Bruce said they have given the AMA Boss two options to bring the project back on board or be prepared to face legal actions against the investors/partners.

According to him, despite the numerous challenges, they are still committed to executing the project, provided Dr. Vanderpuye can push through and ensure that the agreement comes into fruition.

He, however, said time was not on their side because they have information that Mr. Vanderpuye had won an NDC parliamentary primary and could likely become a legislator which he said, might complicate things.

Dr. Bruce said considering the losses suffered as a result of failure on the part of the Accra Mayor to fulfil his promise and the fact that it has been seven years since the funds were given to him, the partners would sue for a damage of at least $2 million to recover the losses.

When quizzed as to how they intend to take such action considering the fact that Dr. Vanderpuye has revoked his American citizenship and is no longer a citizen of the United States, Dr. Bruce said they intend to file the suit in the US and secure the services of a legal practitioner in Ghana to pursue the case.

Meanwhile, several attempts to get Dr. Okoe Vanderpuiye to respond to the allegations have proved futile as he failed to answer calls to his cell phone.

After failing to respond to the calls on three occasions, a text message was sent to him by this reporter, who identified himself and why he wanted to speak to him.

The story was then delayed for a day, but as at the time of going to press last night, he had still not responded to the text message as well.

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