Whatsup News has intercepted letters and contracts between the Kwaku Agyemang Manu-led Ministry of Health and two companies supplying Ghana a total of 8.4 million vaccine doses to dubiously pocket over US$110 million ( over GHC 642 million) of Ghanaian taxpayers money.
Whatsup News has followed a paper trail of contracts and letters between the MoH and the two middlemen who cooked the rip-off contract between March 2021 and April 2021.
The dubious contracts for the Russian vaccine called Sputnik V which is sold by Russia to other countries at US$10.00 per dose is being sold to Ghana at US$ 19 per dose, almost 100% of the original price that countries in Europe buy them.
Two companies with some cozy rapport with the Akufo Addo administration are in the thick of the eyebrow-raising juicy contracts secretly signed on the blindside of the Ghanaian Parliament.
In fact, one of the companies, SL Global Ghana Limited is selling the vaccine to Ghana for US$ 26 per dose in a massive windfall.
SL Global Ghana Limited is owned by a Ghanaian called Arthur Kwaku Ackah-Yensu, a former Business Development Manager, at Dannex Ltd, one of Ghana’s leading pharmaceuticals, while the other company is actually not even a company, but the private office of Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktuom, the second-cousin of the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh l Maktuom.
The Norwegian tabloid Verdens Gang (VG) had last week reported that one Norwegian national, Per Morten Hansen (59) and Norway-born Pakistani Farooq Zahoor were involved in the deal, but none of those names have featured in the documents from the MoH intercepted by Whatsup News.
On March 16, 2021, the Chief Director of the MoH, Kwabena Boadu Oku-Afari, wrote to the Ministry of Finance a letter with reference number MOH/GAD/M.015/02/21, asking the Ken Ofori-Atta-headed Finance Ministry to assist the MoH to raise a Letter of Credit (LC) for the vaccine transaction with SL Global to the tune of US$ 13 million.
This constitutes 10% of the US$130 million SL Global is extracting from the Akufo Addo administration to supply five million vaccine doses.
Whatsup News has intercepted a copy of the letter which reads: “We are therefore by this letter kindly requesting the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to assist the MoH by raising the necessary LC for US$13,000,000 to enable SL Global Limited to initiate the supply of the vaccines.” It was signed by Mr. Oku-Afari
Curiously, while penning down the suspicious request to the Finance Minister, the MoH had already signed an 18-page agreement that very day-March 16, 2021 with SL Global, committing Ghana to pay US$ 26 per dose for a vaccine sold at US$ 10 per dose.
The strange coinciding day of request and contract signing has given cause for serious suspicions among observers tracking the transaction.
The agreement was signed by the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, Oku-Afari for the Akufo Addo administration and Ackah Yensu and Joseph Nelson Nunoo for SL Global.
We are also in possession of a letter from Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, with reference number B.160/MOF/BD/COV.19/L/21/4, which promptly issued an instruction for the LC to be raised. The letter was copied to the Controller and Accountant-Genera, the Minister of Health, Senior Policy Advisors, etc.
The investigation gets even more intriguing as further intercepted documents show that on March 9, 2021, the MoH had signed an agreement with Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktuom to supply the same Sputnik V vaccine for US$19.
It is, therefore, inexplicable why two weeks later, the Ministry will sign a similar contract with the price per dose quoted at US$ 26.
The 11-paged contract with the Dubai royal was signed by the same culprits at the MoH while the Sheikh himself and his Executive Secretary Diana Borovsysta counter-signed.
Shortly after the Finance Ministry had authorised the funds to buy the Sputnik V vaccines from SL Global at US$ 26 per dose, the MoH made a quick U-turn in a letter dated April 14, 2021, asking the Finance Minister to rather peg the cost of the vaccines at US$18.5 per dose.
It is unclear, what triggered the suspicious turnaround from the earlier price quoted by SL Global, but reliable sources are telling Whatsup News that the MoH had to do a quick review of the prices when eyebrows started being raised, following investigations conducted by the Norwegian newspaper which had tracked the deal down from Russia to Ghana.
When cornered earlier this week, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Dr. Ayew Afriyie had attempted to create the impression that the Russians sell the Sputnik V vaccines at wholesale prices of US$ 10 per dose to middlemen who inflate the prices.
However, what he conveniently refused to disclose is that the Sputnik V vaccine is traded directly by the Russian National Investment Fund (RDIF) through its subsidiary company called Human Vaccine LLC which had sold the vaccines to several other countries at US$10 per dose.
Whatsup News can report that the Russian company, Human Vaccine LLC had sold the same type of vaccine to countries like Slovakia and Hungary at US$ 10 per dose, reinforcing suspicions
about the underhand dealings that had transpired in the trade with Ghana.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the contracts for Ghana’s vaccine mafia did not go through Parliament for endorsement.
“The agreement to purchase Sputnik vaccines did not go via the Parliament of Ghana, which is a statutory requirement for international agreements, says Member of Parliament Kwabena Mintah Akandoh (40). He is the Minority ranking member on the Health Committee of Parliament,” the Norwegian VG reported.
The latest COVID-19 transaction by the Akufo Addo administration consequently means that for the umpteenth time, groups of faceless individuals have used COVID-19 as an excuse to line their pockets at the expense of the country.
Recently, civil society groups Community Development Alliance and the Commonwealth Foundation issued a damning report on how the COVID-19 pandemic has been used to fraudulently set aside standard procurement processes to mismanage funds means for COVID-19 relief programmes.
The report is captured in a document titled “Strengthening Covid-19 Accountability Mechanisms (SCAM)” and it shows that a substantial part of the US$ 2.1 billion earmarked for COVID-related expenditure by the Akufo Addo administration ended up in private pockets.
The contract for the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia to Ghana appears to have taken a similar path as the dubious contract given by the Akufo Addo administration to Frontier Healthcare Services to test every arriving passenger to the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) for COVID-19.
Whatsup News had broken the news on the Frontier deal when it found out that the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) had facilitated the entire through Professor William Kwabena Ampofo, a cousin of President Akufo Addo.
Professor Ampofo is the Coordinator of the National Laboratory for COVID 19 Testing at Noguchi. Letters obtained by Whatsup News indicate that Professor Ampofo had virtually signed off the contract with Frontier, with the Minister of Health, the Attorney-General Godfred Yeboah Dame, Foreign Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey among several government officials recently revealing that they had no idea how the Frontier contract was given.