After countless denials, a secret tape recording of a conversation between President Akufo Addo’s cousin and right-hand-man, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko and Philip Ayensu reveals that indeed, the fraudulent US$500 million Power Distribution Services (PDS) deal was cooked from the Presidency.
The tape released by controversial journalist, Kevin Taylor and available with Whatsup News, captures voices believed to be that of Mr. Otchere-Darko, President Akufo Addo’s junior brother, Edward Akufo Addo “Bumpty” and PDS’ Chairman Philip Ayensu haggling over how to take over the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) through PDS.
In the recordings, Gabby was trying to convince Mr. Ayensu to settle for a lower stake in PDS as new players were being inserted into the deal by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta.
In the recording, the voice believed to be that of Gabby, asked, “So you can’t go below 40?” To which the one on the other side said to be Mr. Ayensu, respond: “No…Gabby, you know we’ve come far ooo…No, I can’t go beyond 40. I will rather prefer getting something out of it and getting off than.”
Afterwards, a voice reported to be that of Edward Akufo Addo “Bumpty” came on stream and said: “If that is your final position, then we have to let the others know, sign all the documents…”
This secret conversation directly mirrors leaked contents of a secret WhatsApp group reportedly set up by Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko on August 6, 2018 to bring together the people linked to the Jubilee House scheming to privately seize control of ECG.
The group named “Thriller in Manila” included Bumpty, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, Joseph Babatunde Ampah (believed to be representing Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta), Narinder Surae who works as a senior corporate lawyer at Africa Legal Associates, a law firm owned by Gabby Otchere-Darko, among others.
Apparently, Philip Ayesu who is supposed to be the majority shareholder in the PDS deal was peeved by attempts by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta to dilute his shareholding.
On an unknown date following the ensuing in-fighting within the group, Gabby Otchere-Darko who appeared to be wielding immense power in the group wrote the following in an attempt to mediate the confusion: “Philip, the structure won’t work if you don’t incorporate an SPV. I do not understand why we are fighting over this. The objection to this is totally surprising and frankly unhelpful. I think we should all meet tonight…I am suggesting 7 pm.”
The chat by Mr. Otchere- Darko which was posted between 9:45 am and 10 am that day continued: “We are working for the Philippinos or to ensure that the real intent behind the President’s push for the 51% local ownership is realised. It is not done for the optics”
Information available shows that this in-fighting was based on a March 27, 2019, letter written by Ken Ofori-Atta lawyer Akoto Ampaw to fuse the local companies into one entity under a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV). In the Finance Minister’s order apparently did not particularly excite the “Dons” behind the PDS.
Meanwhile, there are reports that the Akufo Addo administration and its cronies have pocketed some GHC 1.5 billion of electricity revenues collected by the defunct PDS while it had captured PDS.
The PDS deal fell through late 2019 when it was exposed for presenting fraudulent insurance security of almost US$500 million to take over the management of ECG.
On October 23, 2019, ECG took back the operation of the state electricity company. However, the whereabouts of revenues from electricity bills collected by PDS since March 1, 2019 have remained a huge mystery that the NDC hopes to unravel.
The management of ECG was on March 1, 2019, taken over PDS following a US$ 500 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) power compact agreement with the government of Ghana.
The arrangement required the private companies comprising Filipino Meralco Energy and a consortium of three indigenous Ghanaian companies were to inject management efficiency into the badly performing ECG.
The compact required PDS to raise an additional US$ 490 million. However, even though PDS was given preferential treatment to allow it secure the funds, it turned out that the payment guarantee secured as their part of the deal was acquired fraudulently.
With the rapid exposé, the Akufo Addo administration was forced to suspend the contract of PDS in July 2019. On October 18, 2019, the government officially announced the termination of its power concession agreement with PDS in a statement issued by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta.