Details are emerging about how Kingsley Awuah-Darko, former Managing Director (MD) of the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST) Company Limited and his management team transferred over GH¢40 million to the presidency under the previous Mahama administration in a very bizarre manner.
It is unclear into which accounts the huge payments were made, but we understand that about GH¢40,500,000 was transferred secretly from BOST between August 2015 and early January, this year.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Majority in Parliament had dropped the hint that Awuah-Darko led a corrupt administration that allegedly siphoned money to the Flagstaff House.
The NPP said at a press conference that there were massive rotten deals under Mr Kwame Awuah Darko, with the office of the then President, John Mahama and his Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah, purportedly siphoning huge amounts of money – between GH¢2.5 million and GH¢3.5 million at the end of every two weeks from 2015 under the guise of security transfers, amounting to about GH¢40.5 million.
The particulars for the transactions indicated “transfer of funds accrued from security fees.”
The revelation is coming at a time when there is heated debate over the release of large quantities of contaminated fuel (dirty oil) to private companies by BOST’s current management, headed by Alfred Obeng Boateng.
Strangely, the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), which is pushing for the suspension of Mr Obeng Boateng, supervised the distribution of about 12 million litres of the same contaminated fuel when it was in office last year, excluding several others.
The NDC held a news conference last week to claim that the BOST boss had sold the contaminated fuel to an unlicensed company; but it has emerged that the contaminated products were regular phenomena at BOST under the leadership of then MD Kingsley Kwame Awuah-Darko, who is said to be currently cooling off in the United States.
On August 28, 2015, BOST transferred GH¢3.5 million; released GH¢3 million on October 2, the same year and another GH¢3 million on November 12, 2015 while on December 23 same year, GH¢20 million was transferred.
On February 05, March 15, April 15, and May 13 – all in 2016 – GH¢2.5 million on each occasion was transferred by BOST while on June 09, July 15 and August 24, in the same year, GH¢3 million each was transferred from BOST.
Later on September 29 and November 17, 2016, GH¢3.5 million each was transferred by BOST while on January 03, 2017 – when it was left with just three days for the Mahama-led government to leave office – BOST transferred GH¢3 million.
During the tenure of Mr. Awuah-Darko, BOST sold contaminated fuel to about 36 unlicensed entities and individuals and records showed that between March 05, 2015 and August 04, 2015, the previous BOST management sold 8,190,000 litres of contaminated fuel to 24 companies that were all unlicensed, as well as another 12,400.000 litres sold to another 25 unlicensed companies between January 16, 2016 and November 30, 2016.
A reliable source has learnt that the price per litre sold by BOST under the then NDC government was lower than what was sold to the private entities under the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.
The issue took a political dimension when the minority NDC in Parliament held a news conference asking that Mr Obeng Boateng be sacked by the government.
But the NPP majority has hit back, calling for a ‘high-profile’ forensic investigation into the operations of BOST, saying that that should go beyond the short tenure of Mr. Obeng Boateng.
The majority accused the NDC of coming out with ‘cooked’ information on the BOST contaminated fuel saga.
The NPP had insisted that the motive of the NDC was principally to cover up its massive corruption at BOST under the stewardship of Mr. Awuah-Darko.
Mr Alfred Obeng Boateng has been accused of selling about 5 million litres of the contaminated fuel to companies, some of which are said to be unlicensed for the business; but he has continuously denied any wrongdoing.
Workers of BOST have backed the MD to call the bluff of all those who are asking him to vacate his post.
The MP for Odotobri, Emmanuel Akwasi Gyamfi, who addressed the majority’s press conference on Friday, said the recent contamination of five million litres of fuel was detected on January 18, 2017 when the former MD, Kwame Awuah Darko, was still at post; but it was attributed to ‘human error,’ resulting in the interdiction of four members of staff who were in-charge of operations at the time.
Mr. Gyamfi explained that apart from the current contamination by four workers at the time, several other fuel contaminations happened under the NDC government since 2014, which ought to be fully investigated because of the manner in which they occurred.
“The truth of the matter is that under the NDC, similar contaminations occurred. In 2014 another contamination occurred and the quantity involved was 4.6 million litres; in 2015 there was another contamination and the quantity involved was 9.9 million litres and in 2016, the mother of all contaminations occurred and the quantity involved was 12 million litres,” Mr Gyamfi revealed.
The Ministry of Energy has already set up an 8-member ministerial committee to investigate the circumstances under which large quantities of contaminated oil were released by BOST to private companies for distribution.
According to the release signed by the sector minister, Boakye Agyarko, the committee, whose timeframe for the investigation was not given, is expected to determine the circumstances that created the ‘off-spec’ product, review the procedures undertaken by BOST to evacuate the product, as well as ascertain the quality and remaining quantity of the product.
The committee has also been tasked to determine if the product can be corrected; if not, determine the alternative use for the product and review the transaction after which it is expected to advise the ministry on the necessary technical, administrative and legal actions to be taken.
BOST has always insisted that not a single drop of the alleged dirty oil has found its way onto the market, although Senyo Hosi, CEO of Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors, claimed it had been distributed and even warned the public on social media platform – Facebook – against the contaminated fuel, which he said was being sold around Kpone in the Tema enclave of the Greater Accra Region.
By William Yaw Owusu