Gold Mafia: Al Jazeera replies Ghana President’s letter demanding apology

President Akufo-Addo

The global broadcaster, Doha based Al Jazeera has replied to the letter from the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, demanding a retraction and apology failing which he would sue the broadcaster for the undercover investigative report titled ‘Gold Mafia’ in which references were made of the President by one of the subjects investigated.

According to TV3 show host, Johnnie Hughes, the station wrote to Al Jazeera seeking to know their reactions to the President’s demands for retraction and apology. He indicated that Al Jazeera replied to their enquiry stating that they have responded to the President’s letter correcting some parts of it and clarifying some, it said.

The President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo had written to Al Jazeera over the undercover investigation, demanding a retraction and apology within seven days of receiving the letter.

The letter written and signed by the President’s Secretary, Nana Bediatuo Asante, and widely circulated in the media in Ghana, demanded that Al Jazeera retracts immediately and apologises for “airing an inaccurate and unfair documentary that contained spurious and unsubstantiated allegations against the President and the Government of Ghana.”

The letter stated among other things, that the documentary in question made baseless claims that the President acted as a lawyer for one Mr. Alistair Mathias and implied that the President personally benefitted unlawfully from an alleged $100 million state Infrastructure contract purportedly awarded to Mr. Mathias.

It noted that in his letter dated April 11, 2023, responding to Al Jazeera’s letter of April 2, 2023, which was received on April 6, 2023, containing these vague and defamatory allegations, the Legal Counsel to the President, Mr. Kow Abaka Essuman, acting on the instructions of the President, informed Al Jazeera that the President had not been in private practice since the year 2000 and that the President had no recollection of acting as a lawyer, either personally or through his law firm, Messrs. Akufo-Addo, Prempeh and Co, for a Mr. Alistair Mathias or his company, Guldrest Resources.

“In those circumstances, further and better particulars were demanded from Al Jazeera to respond adequately to the allegations made in Al Jazeera’s letter. Al Jazeera was thus requested to provide information on the period for which the President allegedly provided legal representation to Mr. Alistair Mathias or his company, Guldrest Resources.

Furthermore, Al Jazeera was requested to provide details of the “$100 million tender for state infrastructure”, allegedly given to Mr. Mathias, which he outsourced and kept a percentage in offshore accounts, as stated in the letter as well as information on how the President personally benefited unlawfully from the alleged “$100 million tender for state infrastructure,” it said.

President Akufo-Addo in response to Al Jazeera’s request for comments had said that he had no recollection of acting as a lawyer for Mathias or his company.

In the four-episodes video, Mathias and other main subjects involved in what they clearly explained as captured on hidden cameras to be money laundering said there is no president in Africa that they can’t get access to.

“There is no president that either of us (referring to himself and Ewan Macmillan), one of the main subjects of the investigation), can’t get to on this continent,” he said.

“When you work, you must always have the king with you,” Kamlesh Pattni, one of the main subjects was recorded saying. He also assured undercover reporters that he has a direct line to the President of Zimbabwe.

Mathias who says he used to be the biggest in Ghana at one point, also told the reporters he used to do about $40 million to $60 million worth of gold a month from Ghana.

“Ghana’s president is a good friend of mine. In fact, he was my lawyer,” Mathias was recorded saying.

In advising the reporters on how to wash their money, Mathias said: “Do what the politicians do. For instance, I buy a lot of stuff in my name on behalf of politicians. So, if Mr Stanley (referring to one of the undercover reporters) trusts you (another reporter), he can keep things in your name. You have to have someone that you trust as a proxy. Politicians they don’t have their names owning anything. They always have proxies that represent them. Pretty much everyone, even in Russia. Even in Russia they have someone that they trust, a nephew or a cousin that holds all their assets. Africa same thing. Someone they trust that runs all businesses and they continue to being politicians,” Mathias was recorded saying.

He continued to say he does government contracts in Africa and mentioned Ghana specifically.

“In Africa I do government contracts. In Ghana I take tenders, road construction, procurement, supplying different things, oil, this that. There, all the politicians get taken care of indirectly. Because it allows me to do all my other stuff freely,” he stated in the video.

“So the government contracts is the way you reward the politicians?” Stanley asks.

Mathias responds: “See what happens, government will give me a contract. There is a lot of commission involved. They want a commission. He wants a commission. See if you are a politician and you do a contract, you are not going to tell the whole world you are getting 10 per cent. No one can know but you trust me. So you say this is the deal. Keep it with you.

“I bond the commission for them. Then it’s a matter of they tell me pay that, pay that, move it here, move it there.

“So for example Ghana government, Mathias Holdings, I get the contract. I subcontract it to you $100 million contract. I give it to you, you say it’s $80 million. I have an agreement with them and they’ll get 15%. I’ll probably get $5 million. I keep it all in Dubai. Wherever they want it, just tell me and I will send it. That’s how I do it,” he explained to the reporters he took for Chinese criminals.

Touting his credentials, Mathias told the undercover reporters: “The most important thing in Africa is that the people trust me. All the politicians trust that whatever money of theirs that I have is safe. That’s the biggest capital that I have. They trust me because they know that I will pay their commission,” he added.

Al Jazeera found a link between Mathias and a Ghana registered gold exporting company, Guldrest Resources. Local news reports have reported court cases involving disputes over $4 million in Ghana and another $9.2 million both in Ghana and Dubai between Mathias and his Ghanaian counterparts. The reports say the courts cleared Mathias of all the allegations and dismissed the cases.

By Emmanuel K Dogbevi

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