News of Saturday, 14 January 2012
Source: The Herald (Ghana)
*419 Lawyer Caged In BNI Cells *
- *GT and SG-SSB Banks Used In Dirty Transaction *
The dream of a top international businessman Mohammad Shafiq, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of Jampur Group, to buy gold in Ghana, upon which he was led into a meeting with ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor, has turned out to be his nightmare with his US$2.5 million gone to a gang of hi-tech fraudsters led by lawyer Charles Owusu Juanah.
Mohammad Shafiq traveled to Accra, on October 30, 2011 in prospect of a gold transaction. Mr. Rehan Barlas, an American national and representative of Jampur Group, had earlier been in Accra with Mr. Victor Amoah, a Ghanaian National.
Mr. Amoah had introduced gold sellers to the Dubai-based Mr. Mohammad Shafiq. This was after he had been introduced to Jampur by Mr. Charles Owusu Juanah, chairman and owner of K-San Law Firm in Accra.
After this, Mr. Juanah, led the businessman in November 2011 to meet ex-President J.A Kufuor at his Airport West residence in connection with his desire to buy gold. Mr. Kufuor is said to have given his blessings to the transaction and also expressed delight that Jampur wanted to invest in Ghana.
Lawyer Juanah is also said to have boasted of his connections to President John Evans Atta Mills and his vice, John Mahama, as well as other important politicians in this country to the business mogul.
The meeting with ex-President Kufuor, in particular, according to the businessman, boosted his confidence level that he was indeed in a safe pair of hands.
Mr. Amoah introduced Mr. Mohammad Shafiq to Nana Kwaku Adjei and Nana Agyepong as gold sellers, who offered to sell to him gold, amounting to 250 kgs at an agreed price of US$38,000 per kilo, making a total value of US$9.5 million.
The first meeting was held at the luxurious Movenpick Ambassador hotel and it was agreed that the sellers will smelt gold dust at ASAP VASA refinery in Accra.
After the smelting, the gold was to be stored in the joint custody of the buyers and the sellers at SG-SSB Bank. Final testing and shipment of the gold was to be done by Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC), a government organization.
After completing satisfactory testing of quality and quantity, the buyer was to pay an amount of US 3.5 million to the sellers, as part payment, with a balance payment of US$6 million to be made after the arrival of the gold in Dubai in presence of the sellers’ representative Mr. Johnson.
A contract was signed between the buyer and sellers. This contract was drawn by Mr Juanah, who is currently in the cell of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), in the presence of the buyer and the sellers at his office, K San Law Firm Accra.
Mr. Juanah, a nephew of Kofi Osei Ameyaw, onetime Deputy Tourism Minister and a New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Asuogyaman in the Eastern Region.
During the transaction, Nana Agyepong is said to have pleaded for an advance payment of US$1 million from Jampur on November 4, 2011, which was paid through Mr Juanah.
This deposit was to be paid urgently, otherwise Nana Adjei, his partner’s life was in danger because his (Nana Adjei) partners had threatened to kill him or hurt him, for delaying the sale of gold to some buyers. This story was told to Jampur by Messrs Amoah and Juanah.
On November 10, 2011, Mr Juanah told Mr Shafiq that Nana Adjei was unwell and was hospitalized. Mr Juanah met him at the hospital along with three miners, who demanded additional money from Nana Adjei. These miners were making noises and creating chaos at the hospital per account of Juanah and Amoah.
Juanah further told the Jampur Group that Nana Agypeong had paid US$ 200,000 to the miners from his pocket to calm down the situation. On the next day again, Jampur was told, that Nana Adjel was still unwell hence unable to come to the bank for the shipment of the gold.
On November 12, 2011 it was found that Nana Adjei had travelled out of Accra, although Charles had claimed that he was not in a position to get up from bed the previous day.
Mr. Rehan Barlas called Nana Adjei and he was informed that he was still unwell and couldn’t make it to Accra. This excuse from Nana Adjei was given from November 14 to 17, 2011.
On November18, 2011 Tahir Kureshi, Director, Jampur Nigeria arrived in Accra as an additional buyer’s representative. With Nana Adjei missing, Juanah sent an email to Jampur Group (Mr. Mohammad Shafiq), affirming that his law firm K-San law Firm, could guarantee that all the funds being spent on this transaction would be realized.
He further assured Jampur’s representatives that they were safe and secure, as his law firm and him personally had decided that the gold would be kept in their custody at all the time. He thus said that Nana Adjei’s life was in danger if the remaining funds were not released to them urgently.
Juanah asked Mr. Mohammad Shafiq that the funds be released to him personally, as he would undertake the responsibility of the entire operation and would guarantee the quantity and quality of gold to Jampur as per the contract he prepared.
This was communicated via email to Mr. Mohammad Shafiq.
Juanah reminded Mr. Mohammad Shafiq of his status as a barrister in law in the UK and Ghana, and that his Integrity would be at stake if the deal did not go well. Earlier, Juanah had taken Mr. Shafiq to visit former President Kufuor at his residence.
He told Mr. Shafiq that Jampur should trust him, given his relationship with the former President and the present President of Ghana. He invited Mr. Shafiq to visit the current President at his convenience.
Juanah also showed a copy of the cheque he had written to the sellers for US$6 million as a guarantee to them for their balance of payment, and assured Jampur that everything would be okay. At this juncture, Jampur agreed to release US$2.5 million from Guarantee Trust Bank (GT Bank) to Juanah personally and he took the equivalent amount in Ghana Cedis in cash from the Abeka Branch to his office.
After collecting the amount, Juanah advised the buyer’s representatives to relax and go to their hotel and that all would be fine. He conveyed the same message to Mr. Shafiq on the phone, in Dubai at that time.
Juanah later arranged a bullion van to the SG-SSB Bank, however, when the van arrived at the bank, the miners and Nana Agyepong also arrived at the bank demanding more funds from the buyers.
Mr. Shafiq spoke to Charles about this situation and Juanah advised him not to worry and said” this is a game they are playing “. Juanah told Mr. Shafiq that he had arranged an additional US$ 600,000.00 from his personal account to pay them”.
Charles asked Mr. Shafiq if he had any money at the bank indicating that would be helpful. Mr. Shafiq told him that he could give him an additional USD 50,000.00 if that was necessary.
When the van arrived at the PMMC office, the miners stormed there making noises. The PMMC refused to do the test as it was after 4pm.
Charles suggested, “let us take the gold to my office and I will sort out the matter with these miners/sellers” Mr. Shafiq advised Juanah that the gold should be put back in the bank vault but Charles assured him not to worry and that Mr. Shafiq should relax in Dubai.
Upon arrival at his office, with the miners, Tahir and Rehan, Juanah claimed he had to visit Vice-President John Mahama, who had asked to see him on a very important national matter.
He was instructed by the buyers that the gold should be put in a bank vault, but he ignored the same instruction and said to the buyers that Vice-President was waiting for him hence, it was more important for him to see the Vice-President than “handling this nonsense business of gold”.
He was advised by the Jampur representatives that the bank vault would close by 7pm. He came back to his office about 9 to 10 pm by which time the banks were closed.
He decided to divide the total bars, 135 bars to buyers and 126 bars to sellers and advised the buyers that gold could not be kept in his office as it was dangerous, hence the buyers should take the gold to the hotel at Golden Tulip and bring it back to PMMC the next morning. A strong protest was made about this decision, but Juanah insisted.
Since there was no option to the buyer’s, the gold was taken to Golden Tulip hotel by Tahir, Rehan and Amoah about 1a.m with Tahir and Rehan sleeping in one room to guard the gold.
They next day when the gold was taken to PMMC about 9am along with Victor, it was discovered that the weight of the gold is 70 kilogram and not 135 kilogram as Juanah had told the buyers.
Juanah was informed about the development and he in turn advised the buyers, that the sellers would bring an additional 50 kilogram to make it a total of 130kilogram. At this time he contacted the sellers and informed Tahir that they had sold the remaining gold to some third party, hence they would refund the balance of funds to the buyers.
About 30 minutes later, PMMC called to say that it was only five of the 70 bars that were real gold and that the remaining 65 bars were other metal.
Juanah came to PMMC and asked buyers to bring these bars to his office. He was instructed by Mr. Mohammad Shafiq to lodge a police complaint, but Charles advised Mr. Shafiq, “your representatives will be detained by the police if they file this complaint”.
The case is currently in the hands of the law enforcement agencies for investigation with Mr. Juanah still in custody.
Read also: How Kufour Was Used In $2.5 Million Gold Scam
(17th January 2012)