Hollow Defence Sinks MoH In GHC 640 million Sputnik Vaccine Scandal

-Health Ministry Caught In Epileptic Disclosure

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has blown its chance to clarify its complicity in the snowballing scandal that has engulfed the procurement of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine from questionable third-party sources that smiled to the bank with a US$110 (over GHC 640 million) windfall.

The Ministry had raised expectations for the statement released today, June 10, after it had announced yesterday, June 9, that it was going to put to rest the raging issues in the dubious procurement contract. But when the statement dropped, critics described it as completely empty.

For instance, the MoH had created the impression that only one contract was in contention-the procurement contract to Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The contention is that the Sputnik vaccine cost US$10 per dose, but a deal cooked in the private office of the Shiekh saw Ghana being charged US$19.

The Ministry had claimed that it had rather saved the country some money because the Shiekh had proposed to sell the vaccine for US$25 per dose. But reliable sources from within the MoH tell Whatsup News that at no point had the Sheikh proposed US$25 per dose of the vaccine.

In fact, when the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, Dr. Ayew Afriyie attempted to debunk accusations of over-inflation of the contract, he said all the companies that bid to supply the vaccine had proposed prices between US$12 and US$ 19 per dose. Nowhere was US$25 per dose mentioned.

This morning, Whatsup News had broken the news about the dubious contract and had referenced intercepted documents which proves that the Ministry had conveniently avoided mentioning another company, SL Global Ghana Limited, which it had signed the vaccine contract with for US$ 26 per dose!

The window dressing statement released by the MoH today and signed by the Chief Director of the Ministry, Kwabena Boadu Oku Afari, agrees that Russia is indeed supplying Sputnik V, one of three vaccines approved by Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority, at US$10 per dose through the Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

However, it explains that the Ministry was constrained to acquire the same vaccine at US$19 per dose because after an arrangement with RDIF, the expected direct delivery has not come through and the country has had to rely on middlemen to receive the Sputnik V vaccines.

“The MoH has, since early this year, made several efforts to procure the Sputnik V vaccine directly by engaging the Russian authorities, such as the Russian Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the CEO of Russia Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), and the CEO of Limited Liability Company “Human Vaccine”. Meetings were also held with the Deputy Ambassador of Russia in Ghana,” the statement reads.

 “Against the background of non-response from direct channels and global shortages of the vaccine, the Moh, on 9th March 2021, responded to an offer from Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum for the supply of a total quantity of 3.4 million doses of Sputnik v vaccines, at a unit cost of US$19.”

The MoH statement did not mention the SL Global Limited contract which was even bigger than that of the Sheikh and cost way higher at US$26 per dose.

Again, the MoH in its labored explanation that it could not negotiate directly with the Russians and thus needed private companies, left out the fact that in February 2021, the African Union confirmed that it had received an offer by Russia to supply 300 million doses of the vaccines to member states. Ghana only needs 3.4 million doses of the vaccines from Russia, and as a key member of the AU, it is inconceivable that it could not access 8.4 million doses from the offer Russia had provided to the AU at US$10 per dose.

The MoH’s claim that, unlike other countries, the Ghanaian government had failed a government-to-government negotiation for the new COVID-19 and had been forced to resort to private companies with suspicious backgrounds to complete the deal with Russia, has drawn disbelief among critics.

One of such critics is Professor Kwaku Asare, a US-Based Ghanaian law professor, who wrote: “We were able to negotiate directly with Russia to be used as trial grounds of the single-dose Sputnik but could not negotiate to buy their much-publicised $10 vaccine directly from them. Rather, we ended up buying the Russia Sputnik from UAE Sheikhs…either we are not effective negotiators or we are Living Legends.”  

Whatsup News has intercepted letters and official contracts signed between the Government of Ghana and these middleman companies and the two companies will lead to a staggering windfall of US$110 million ( over GHC 642 million) at the expense of Ghanaian taxpayers if the government had directly dealt with the Russians.

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 where the government agreed to buy the vaccine at an astonishing price of up to US$ 26 per dose.

Two companies, reportedly in a cozy rapport with the Akufo Addo administration include SL Global Ghana Limited which is owned by a Ghanaian called Arthur Kwaku Ackah-Yensu. He was a former Business Development Manager, at Dannex Ltd, one of Ghana’s leading pharmaceutical company.

The other middleman was through a deal cooked in the private office of Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktuom, the second cousin of the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Al Maktuom. The MoH agreed to by the vaccine from the shady Arab Sheikh for US$ 19 instead of US$10 which the Russian state-owned company Human Vaccine LLC was already selling directly to other countries.

“The unit price was negotiated at a meeting held at Mol, with representatives from MoH and Office of Dalmook Al Maktoum, who had travelled to Accra for the purpose. The MoH, after ascertaining the type and nature of the vaccine, through the delivery of 15,000 doses, placed an order for the supply of 300,000 doses of the vaccine at a cost of US$5,700,000,” the hastily composed MoH statement read.

“It should be noted that the US$10 price per dose, which is being proposed as the correct price, is the ex-factory price, which is only obtained from Government to Government arrangements. The Government of Ghana was unable to obtain direct supplies from the Russian Government as stated earlier, hence the resort to the market,” the Ministry went on to explain. 

However, that did not explain why Russia was selling the vaccine at the so-called ex-factory price to other foreign countries.

The MoH statement reveals several cover-ups, including its claim that the Sheikh had initially quoted US$25, but this was negotiated downwards to US$19. 

However, it is unclear how the MoH claims that it negotiated the Shiekh’s price downwards to US$19 only to sign an agreement with SL Global two weeks afterward to buy the vaccine at US$26 per dose.

Whatsup New investigations reveal that the MoH on March 9, 2021, signed agreement with Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktuom to supply the Sputnik V vaccine for US$19 after it had allegedly “negotiated” the price downwards from US$ 25 per dose. 

However, another document in the possession of Whatsup News shows that 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.

The LC constitutes 10% of the US$130 million SL Global is extracting from the Akufo Addo administration to supply five million vaccine doses.

 The copy of the letter in the possession of Whatsup News 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.

At the quoted amount, each vaccine dose works up to US$26!

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.

Consequently, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta had promptly written a letter with reference number B.160/MOF/BD/COV.19/L/21/4, to authorize the raising of the LC for MoH to buy the vaccines at US$ 26 per dose from SL Global.

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 Verdens Gang (VG) had reported last week.

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.

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