By Gifty Arthur Impeccable information reaching The Herald suggest that the Italian-born Ghanaian and owner of the luxurious Trassaco Estates, who is currently stuck in Italy for fear of being arrested over the Alfred Agbesi Woyome judgment debt scandal, was the one who pushed his surrogates at Waterville to hold the botched press conference last Monday.

Sources close to the company, which is registered in the British Virgin Island (BVI) told The Herald that some officials of the company had made trips to Europe in recent times, ostensibly to meet with Don Ernesto Taricone, owner of Trassaco Estates, to plan how to extricate the company from the scandal.

Mr. Adreas Olandi, who has appeared before the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) over the issues is mentioned as one officer who had made some trips to Europe to meet Don Taricone to strategize on how to address the issues. Mr. Olandi has been described as a front to Don Taricone.

Last Monday’s press conference was planned to absolve the company from any blame, but analysts claim it has rather left many questions unanswered.

For instance, a senior lecturer at the Ghana Law School, Ace Ankomah, called on the nation’s security forces to further question the management of Waterville Company over their involvement in the infamous Woyome scandal.

According to the law lecturer, the company’s attempts to clear the air at a press conference on Monday failed and rather raised more worrying questions about the transactions.

The managers of Waterville on Monday said the embattled businessman, Woyome could not front for them in any claim, because he was hired and paid off after his services to them. Lawyer Ankomah, however, holds the view that Waterville should be joined in a fresh suit in the fight to recover the money.

Speaking to Citi News on Tuesday, he said, “What they have done is to muddy the waters some more, and I think that people who have had any engagement with our money and our public funds should show us some respect and credit us with a little bit more intelligence than what Waterville sought to do yesterday.”

He added: “There are many questions they didn’t answer. My view is that Waterville and its directors ought to be joined to the ongoing legal proceedings. These guys ought to be invited by the police again. It is time for Ghana to sue Waterville.”

“Mr. Alfred Woyome, separately and independently of Waterville made the claim against the government. Waterville has no role, nor interest in Mr. Woyome’s claim”, Mr. Olandi told journalists.

At a heavily attended press conference in Accra, Mr. Olandi, noted that despite the fact that they engaged the services of Mr. Woyome, they paid him off for services rendered to his company.

According to hi, Mr. Woyome was never part of the claims that his outfit made to government of Ghana for reimbursement or compensation against loss.

“Mr. Woyome had no role in the claims Waterville made to government for reimbursement or compensation against loss”, he said.

He noted that M-Powerpak, a group where Mr. Woyome came from, was hired for a fee to provide financial advisory and consulting purposes for a limited period to assist in Waterville financing the stadia contract.

Mr. Olandi said despite the approval for the award of contract of two new stadia, rehabilitation of two more and the construction of a third one, the Kufour government decided to award two out of the five stadia already awarded to them, to Shangai Construction Group General Corporation.

He said this action was taken with no compliance with Ghana’s Public Procurement Law. Unfortunately, he said after the majority of the procurement process of materials and equipment was completed by Waterville and a substantial progress made in the rehabilitation of the three stadia, government decided to totally cancel its contract obligations with Waterville in August 2006.

Considering the amount of money spent in the initial stage of the projects before the cancellation, Mr. Olandi said that his outfit made a claim for well over €33million as compensation.

But the then government declined to make any such payment, noting that it was upon mediation that an amount of €25million was paid to the company as both reimbursement and compensation by the NDC administration.

Asked as to why Waterville waited until a new administration came in before they made the claim, Mr. Olandi said as far as they were concerned, they were dealing with government of Ghana and not individual governments, so whether it was the previous or current government, they have consistently demanded what they felt was due them.

On the issue of double payment, Waterville insisted that it did no wrong, explaining that during the time of the abrogation of their contract, part payment of Waterville certificate was paid directly to the sub-contractors to enable them continue with the contract to achieve the target of October with no delay.

Waterville, he said, had pursued government since 2006 for the outstanding balance which had remained unpaid. “Such amount was duly deducted from Waterville certificates and an outstanding balance remained unpaid to which damages and accrued interest were added to compensate the loss sustained by the company.

“There has been nothing illegal or improper about Waterville’s actions, or decisions in competing for, executing or laying claims for cancellation of the contract to construct and refurbish the five stadia “, he said.

While some say Don Ernesto Taricone fled the country to Europe, when the Woyome issue started brewing, because of his connection to Waterville Holdings (BVI) and Micheletti, a top official of one of his companies told The Herald that though his boss is in Italy, he is only there to seek medical attention.

The official, who called The Herald into a meeting at a location in East Legon recently, did not specify which health condition sent Don Taricone to Italy to seek treatment and when he will be back in Ghana.

The officer, however, expressed doubt over Don Taricone’s involvement in Micheletti, but was emphatic that ex-President John Kufuor and his family has nothing to do with the plush Villagio Estate Apartment at Airport West in Dzorwulu, where Mr. Kufuor has his hotel and private residence. He said there is no documentation to prove the ex-president’s connection to the Villagio Estate Apartments.

Don Taricone, according to police insiders, is needed to respond to nagging queries as to whether he, indeed, had a contract with the Government of Ghana, and, therefore, entitled to the over 38 million Euros payment, which was started under the Kufuor regime after it unlawfully brought in Shanghai China Corporation.

There have been claims that Don Taricone’s Waterville and Micheletti companies, which were reportedly awarded part of the construction of the stadia used for CAN 2008 tournament in Ghana, were not legally entitled to any monetary compensation as they did not have a contract with the State.

It was argued that there was no binding contract between the two companies, which were represented by ex-Ghana Bar Association President, Lawyer Kwame Tetteh, and the Government of Ghana to warrant the payment of compensation.

The Herald has, meanwhile, gotten access to a phony website on the internet believed to be for Waterville Holding British Virgin Island (BVI) Limited. The website www.watervilleh.net does not convey any serious message about a company which has creamed over 38 millions of Euros from the government of Ghana.

Some have even suggested that the Waterville Holding (BVI) Limited might have been cleverly established as a money laundering vehicle by Don Taricone, and past officials of the Kufuor regime to stash money away in foreign banks. Waterville Holding (BVI) Limited at the website did not specify its office location. It has no telephone directory, and there is also no named officer to reach in the event of wanting to do business with the company.

It mentioned that in 2004, its total annual turnover reached $ 373.5 million with assets of over $ 1billion. This interestingly reveals that the website is not being updated.

Source: The Herald

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