-As Criminal charges Against Alleged Associate of Vaccine Shiekh Dismissed
As the raging scandal over the multi-million-dollar contract given to two middleman companies gains momentum, documents available show how the Ghanaian company involved had attempted to rip the country off.
On March 16, 2021, the Ministry of Health had dubiously given SL Global a contract to supply 5 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines at a whopping US$26 per dose, although about a week earlier, the Ministry had given the same contract to a Dubai royal, Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktuom to supply at US$19 per dose, even though he would be supplying fewer doses (3.4 million).
A copy of the contract document intercepted by Whatsup News shows that Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktuom was supplying the vaccine at the said cost inclusive of documentation, shipping, packaging, logistics and other expenses. He was to be paid upon an on-sight letter of credit basis, while SL Global will have a letter of credit valid for 1080 days (about 3 years).
This is contained on page 3 of the contract between MOH and SL Global. Critics have therefore wondered why SL’s price will be that high if it was enjoying all that level of leeway in the transaction.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that the owner of SL Global Ghana Limited one Arthur Kwaku Ackah-Yensu is well-connected to the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP). He was a former Business Development Manager, at Dannex Ltd, one of Ghana’s leading pharmaceutical companies and he also owns Petram Ghana Limited, said to be connected to a powerful woman formerly at the highest echelon of government, and that the company Petram and the said woman may be in partnership to official import arms for Ghana’s security services.
All of these details are still sketchy as Whatsup News digs further for clues to the apparent preferential treatment SL Global appears to be enjoying in the vaccine syndication for Ghana.
Meanwhile, Norwegian tabloid Verdens Gang (VG) had reported one Umar Farooq Zahoor, an alleged associate of the Shiekh, was connected to the deal and had whipped up Farooq’s alleged brush with law enforcement agencies in Norway.
But reliable sources close to Farooq have told Whatsup News that Farooq was in no way connected to the vaccine deal to Ghana and that the said criminal case against him in Norway had long been dropped by the State Attorney of Oslo.
Whatsup New has intercepted a February 11, 2021 letter from the Oslo-Norway State Attorney, dismissing the case against Farooq.
“..the case is dismissed and suspended as suggested by the Police in doc. 01,03 in the criminal case against Umar Farooq Zahoor,” stated the letter signed by Anne Christine Stoltz Wennersten.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to quell the raging scandal of inflated pricing for the Russian vaccine, Sputnik V, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has issued a statement that has further implicated it as evidence from Russia weighs heavily against the Ministry in its explanation.
Whatsup News had broken the news about the dubious contract that the Ministry signed with two middleman companies to double the cost price of each of the vaccine doses sold by Russia.
The statement which is 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 the private office of H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the supply of a total quantity of 3.4 million doses of Sputnik V vaccines, at a unit cost of US$19.”
What the MoH conveniently failed to state in the statement was that it had signed contracts with a Ghanaian company, SL Global Limited to supply at US$26 per dose the same vaccine sold by Russia to other countries at US$10.
Again, the MoH 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.
Also, the MoH’s claim that it could not secure a direct deal with the Russians but the private Ghanaian SL Global could capture the attention of the Russians has drawn serious 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-publicized 410 vaccines 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.”