Organisers of the Ghana Expatriate Business Award (GEBA) have refuted the authenticity of a document tendered in as evidence in the ongoing probe into the cash-for-seat scandal.
The five-member Parliamentary Committee begun sitting last to look into the Minority’s allegations that seats were sold to expatriate business owners by the Trades Ministry and the Millennium Excellence Foundation (MEF), the awards organisers, for a chance to sit close to President Akufo-Addo.
The Minority MPs hold that the sale of the seats was extortion and whittled the dignity of the Presidency.
Appearing before the Committee on Monday, January 15, 2018, President of the awards organising agency, Ashim Morton, said a document purported to be the sponsorship package sent out to expatriate businesses is forged.
“I am deeply disturbed by what I am looking at. I am very deeply disturbed on the thinking of the personality who will fabricate…and change our sponsorship package…
“This document is foreign to the Foundation. I have never seen this document before. As I mentioned early on, all our sponsorship packages were in colour and if you look at the font [of the document tendered in as evidence], the font has changed,” he said.
It is not clear if the document Mr Morton refers to was among those presented by the Minority as evidence of wrongdoing in the ongoing probe, however, the Minority is known to have presented some documents to the Committee to firm up their case that huge sums of money were paid into the Trades Ministry accounts by expatriate business owners.
Mr Morton and other representatives of the MEF were the third witnesses to testify before the Committee on Monday, after Minority MPs, Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP for North Tongu and Muntaka Mubarak, MP for Asawase and Minority Chief Whip.
Mr Morton had testified that his Foundation received the sum of GHS2,367,426.06 as part of its share of the profit made at the Ghana Expatriate Business Awards (GEBA) last year.
The MEF boss also said the amount of GHS40,000 received from the Trades Ministry for event preparatory works was paid out of the overall amount.
But this account changed after Deputy Minority leader James Avedzi raised issues with some figures on a document submitted as evidence to the Committee.
“In total how much did you receive from the Ministry,” Mr Avedzi asked Mr Morton to repeat the amount the Foundation received as its profit share.
“You told us and I wrote it down the amount you claim you received from the Ministry. I just want you to repeat it,” the Deputy Minority leader said.
But the question was greeted with a loud silence from the MEF president.
Mr Avedzi then quoted a figure of GHS2.4million that had earlier been supplied to the Committee, but according to Mr Morton that figure rather represented the “total expenditure for the [entire] event.”
“Mr Chairman I misquoted myself,” he admitted, adding he will later furnish the Committee with the amount the Foundation received as its profit.
On the sale of seats to expat businesses, the MEF boss said: “no one company paid a $100,000.”
He said the Trades Ministry advised the event planners not to sell any seat on the presidential table to expatriates who attended it.
Mr Morton maintained the word ‘President’ stated on the $100,000 sponsorship package was referring to him and not president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who was not billed to attend the event.
“I am going through this carefully to erase that notion that someone paid to sit with the Head of State. No company paid $100,000 to sit on the table,” he said.