The controversy over alleged billions of dollars of Ghana money lodged in a Swiss bank about five decades ago was revived yesterday with a renewed call on the government to take decisive steps to retrieve the money. The money, said to belong to the Oman Ghana Trust Fund, was allegedly lodged in the United Bank of Switzerland (UBS) by Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, in 1959.
It is believed its retrieval could inject life into Ghana’s economy. However, there have been controversial claims of ownership of the fortune and it is unclear whether it belongs to the state or the late John Ackah Blay-Miezah, the sole trustee of the fund. Efforts by various governments over the years to retrieve the money have proved futile, thus heightening suspicion that it is a fluke. But a group known as Friends of Oman Ghana Trust Fund (FOGTF) believes there is nothing mythical about the money and is very much convinced that the fortune belongs to Ghana and not the late Ackah Blay-Miezah.
The group, therefore, called on the government to expedite action by constituting a team to retrieve the money from the Swiss bank for the benefit of the nation. “We know President Kufuor’s government is a listening government. We want him to give this project a critical attention so that it is completed and laid to rest”, the leader of FOGTF, Mr Kobla Asamani, told journalists at a news conference in Accra yesterday. The money is said to have been deposited at the UBS by the government of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) in 1959 to facilitate the prosecution of its economic agenda, which involved several development projects.
Somehow, and particularly after the death of Dr Nkrumah, Mr Blay-Miezah managed to become the sole trustee, while he made the Finance Minister in the CPP government, Dr Kwasi Amoako-Attah, the sole beneficiary of the fund.As of 1986, the account of the fund was believed to have exceeded $400 billion, made up of $47 billion in current account and the rest in investment savings accounts. Considering the pedigree of the Swiss bank to double accounts every seven years, Friends of the Oman Ghana Trust Fund believe Ghana is now worth more than a whopping $3 trillion in the UBS.
“One hour after arrival at the bank, the current account which contains about $47 billion will be retrieved. The other six accounts which are investment savings account will then be activated and within six months that will also be available for retrieval”, the group indicated at the news conference. Question after question, journalists at the news conference kept probing the members of the group for more answers, an endeavour that reflected the cloudy manner in which the Oman Ghana Trust Fund had been cast over the past decades.
According to Mr Asamani, research conducted by the group had established the existence of the money in the Swiss bank, an assertion, he claimed, had been confirmed by two separate investigations conducted by the Ministries of Finance and Economic Planning, and National Security. He asked the government to include Capt. Gregory Frazier, an American businessman, who claims knowledge of the security code number and password needed to retrieve the money, in the team to redeem Ghana’s fortune from Switzerland.
Describing Mr Frazier as the “only hope” for Ghana, Mr Asamani said at 60, the American was advancing in age, and it was important for the government to act swiftly, otherwise, the nation would lose the money if he died. “President Kufuor will be leaving behind a legacy of a lifetime reliever of his people from poverty.