ROBBERY AT LOTTERIES

Over GHC 10 million Goes Into Private Pockets In Purchase of Lotto Machines

Whatsup News can report that the Director-General of the National Lotteries Authority (NLA) Kofi Osei-Ameyaw and the top management of the state gambling firm have pocketed in excess of GHC 10 million when they purchased some 5000 Point of Sales (POS) machines for lotto operators between 2018 and 2019.

The NLA paid a whopping US$ 850 ( approximately GHC 4,080) for each of the machines despite the fact that the highest price for each of the Machines cost about US$ 300-less than half the price the NLA bought it for.

The story was broken yesterday November 18, 2020, by Joy News’ investigative report, which claims Ghana had lost some US$ 10 million from the transaction to purchase some 30,000 POS machines called. However, following the convoluted paper trail of the transaction, Whatsup News deduced that the amount would be in the region of GHC 10 million rather than US$10 million as stated by Joy News.

The NLA has earlier in October 2018 budgeted some GHC 30 million to buy 30,000 pieces of next-generation lotto POS machines from Chinese company, Shenzhen Xinguodu Technology Limited, but a statement released today by the Public Relations Unit of the NLA admitted that “according to the financial strength of the Authority only 5,000 out of the 30,000 Point of Sale Terminals have been purchased.”

The NLA, led by Kofi Osei-Ameyaw on December 18, 2018, ordered for the transfer of some GHC 20.42million for 5000 POS machines to be transferred to private middleman TekStark Africa Limited through their UBA account number 001055584015507. The authorisation for the payment was signed by Ernest Mote, the Acting Director of Finance for NLA. The transaction was referenced: SCR/F5/ADOP/2018/0143.

This puts the price of each unit of the lotto machines at approximately US$ 850 or GHC 4,080.

However, inquiries done by Joy News and further searches done by Whatsup News shows that the highest the lotto machines of the same specifications can cost will be around US$300 or GHC 1,440 at the prevailing exchange rate of US$ 1 to GHC 4.8 at the time of the transaction in 2018.

From inquiries made by Joy News for the exact same POS specification, the Chinese company issued an invoice to the machines cost US$ 193.00 or GHC 927.00 each. 

This was confirmed by Tunde Ogungbade, the CEO of Accelerex Global who buys thousands of the same POS machines from Shenzhen Xinguodu Technology Limited as one of the leading electronic payment companies in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, etc.

From the Joy News documentary, Mr. Ogungbade insists that the NEXGO N5 should not cost more than US$ 300.00 each at the highest specification.

Accelerex’s website lists different versions of POS machines it uses, including the NEXGO N5. “The Accelerex App comes installed on our NEXGO range of Point-of-Sales devices which includes NEXGO G2, NEXGO G3, NEXGO N3 Smart POS, and NEXGO N5 Smart POS. The Accelerex PoS Application and terminal devices are certified and accredited by regulators and merchant acquirers.”

In an attempt to justify the scandalous transaction that adds to the growing list of potentially fraudulent transactions racked up by appointees of the Akufo Addo administration, the NLA’s statement claims the prices were high because NLA ordered the machines on a Delivery Duty Paid (DDP) basis.

“The Public Procurement Authority tasked the manufacturer, Shenzhen Xinguodu Technology Limited and its local partner to deliver the POSTs to the NLA through DELIVERY DUTY PAID (DDP). If Joy News/Joy FM/Multimedia Group Limited understands what DDP, is with the greatest of respect, they would not have come up with this bogus documentary of Cost Inflation. However their ignorance cannot be forgiven,” stated the NLA in its rather vague press statement. 

DDP essentially means a delivery agreement whereby the seller assumes all of the responsibility, risk, and costs associated with transporting goods until the buyer receives or transfers them at the destination port. The cost paid by the buyer covers freight, insurance, and customs duties.

Yet, Whatsup News has seen documents between Tekstart Limited and NLA showing that after the NLA had paid some US$ 850.00 for each of the NexGo N5 lotto machines, the NLA paid an extra GHC 940.00 or approximately US$ 196.00 for each of the 500gram POS machines. 

Despite claims that the lotto machines were bought on a DDP basis, on March 13, 2019, TekStart’s CEO Derek Appiah wrote to Osei-Ameyaw asking him to authorise the release of some GHC 940,000 to pay customs duty for the state-ordered electronic devices.

“We therefore respectfully and urgently request that you issue a certificate of release for GHS 940,000 under the associated Advanced Payment Guarantee with United Bank For Africa (Ghana)..to enable local customs clearance of the goods and delivery to your organisation,” wrote Derek Appiah of Tekstart.

In the letter referenced SCR/DG/2018/45, Derek Appiah announced to the NLA boss that the first batch of 1000 lotto machines had arrived at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA). 

“We are pleased to inform you that the first 1000 units of your order for NEXGO N5 POS terminals (Invoice TKST/NLA/001) arrived at the Kotoka International Airport on 8th of March 2019. A copy of the relevant Airway Bill is attached to this letter,” Derek Appiah wrote to the NLA boss. 

The NLA paid some GHC 4.08 million (about US$ 850,000) for the 1000 pieces of lotto machines.

The sketchy deal had already triggered investigations by the now-resigned Special Prosecutor, Martin A.B.K Amidu. He had reportedly quizzed the NLA boss Osei-Ameyaw and some top management members of the state gambling company.

Already, critics are pointing at the now-too-familiar pattern of looting by appointees of the Akufo Addo administration, using the now-dismissed CEO of the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) Adjenim B. Adjei to cook up shady multi-million procurement deals.

“The National Lotteries Authority has gambled with our taxes and its leaders won a jackpot. They should vomit the money and the NLA disbanded!” Said Franklin Cudjoe, the CEO of policy think0tank IMANI.

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