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VG editor responds to AMERI on Umar Farooq Zahoor

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Gard Steiro
Gard Steiro

News editor of Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang (VG) says they can live with the Chairman of AMERI Energy, Sheik Ahmed Bin Dalmook Juma al Maktoum calling their journalism malicious, but when the Dubai Prince says they have published false information, he should back his allegations with facts.

AMERI Energy had published a press release accusing the newspaper of publishing ‘false and malicious accusations’ against it.

The newspaper broke the news with an investigative report about the now controversial deal in which the Ghana government has signed a build own operate and transfer (BOOT) agreement with AMERI Energy to supply 10 TM2500+ power turbines at the cost of $510 million. The newspaper argues that Ghana could have purchased the plants at a much cheaper price.

In a statement issued in Oslo, Norway and copied to ghanabusinessnews.com, Gard Steiro says, “the press release from Ameri Group appears to be a striking attempt to create a smokescreen. Not one single piece of information in VG’s exposé is refuted. This is not surprising. Our version is both correct and verifiable.”

Steiro who says he believes that Ameri Group is interpreting freely when it refers to VG’s articles, argues; “VG has never claimed that Umar Farooq Zahoor is the owner of Ameri Group. We wrote that he was managing director when the $510 million contract was signed. This information comes from Ghana’s Power Minister and other sources. We note that Ameri Group confirms his position in its press release,” he says.

Steiro emphasises that the newspaper has never stated that Ameri Group defrauded the Ghanaian authorities.

“We have only reported figures from official documents such as minutes from the Ghanaian parliament and the contract signed by the Sheik himself. None of the figures which VG has published are disputed. We have only pointed out that the contract for the delivery of 10 gas turbines appears to be alarmingly expensive. So far neither the power minister nor Ameri Group has attempted to give VG anything like a credible explanation,” he adds.

In the editor’s view, the big issue is the question of why the Ghanaian authorities chose to do business worth hundreds of millions of dollars with a man who is wanted for fraud.

“The fact is that Umar Farooq Zahoor has been charged and wanted since 2013. According to a Zurich City Court, the Swiss police believe that Zahoor was involved in fraud worth $20 million in total. The assistant chief of police in Oslo, Gro Smogeli, has previously stated that Zahoor was one of the main players behind the Nordea fraud. The only reason why the case has not been tried in court is that Umar Farooq Zahoor has been hiding in Dubai,” he says.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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