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Visa Racketeering Facilitated By Top GOC, NSA Officials

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…2018 Australian Commonwealth Games Visa Scandal Report Reveals

A report issued by the sub-committee of the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC) that investigated the 2018 Australian Commonwealth Games visa scandal has given a damning verdict on the role played by top sports officials in the visa scandal.

The Committee finds that visa racketeering through fraudulent representation for either “financial gain or nepotic motives” is endemic, condoned and facilitated at the highest level of the GOC and NSA.

The report eventually indicted the GOC’s First Vice President Paul Atchoe for illegally adding the names of two of his sons to Ghana’s official team list while the GOC’s Deputy Treasurer Theophilus Edzie likewise also added the name of his brother to Ghana’s list.

Meanwhile, the Report revealed that during its work, the GOC President Mr. Ben Nunoo Mensah attempted to influence its work through acts of intimidation, threats and fabrications.

According to the 159-page report, Mr. Ben Nunoo Mensah disrupted the work of the committee on at least two occasions as he attempted to “whip the Committee to tow a particular line.”

The Sub-Committee chaired by Justice of the Appeals Court, Justice Tanko Amadu, revealed that Mr. Mensah claimed there was a perception in government circles and the GOC that the leadership of the committee was perceived as opposed to government.

The Report stated that “The apparent threats embedded in the witness’s (Mr. Mensah) posture and representations made to the Committee compelled the Committee to demand from the witness a written memorandum to enable the Committee appropriately address same and to be guided thereby and advise itself.”

The Committee stated that there have been persistent disruptions occasioned by the conduct of Mr. Mensah which resulted in adjournments in order to address his concerns.

The report further states that Mr. Mensah provided no evidence to substantiate the suspicions and the alleged apprehension of government as no member of the Committee had been approached nor intimidated in any way.

It mentioned that the references to concerns by government or high-level government officials as described is unfounded and can only be a fabrication of the witness’s own fears for which he attempted to whip the Committee to tow a particular line.

“It must be placed on record that Committee did not find those concerns as genuine but a subtle attempt by the President of the GOC either to scuttle the investigations or to achieve a particular outcome,” the Report stated.

It also mentioned that “the perception, suspicion, and apprehension either by the witness or government being trumpeted by the witness as unfounded and at best a veiled attempt to intimidate the Committee members and deprive the Committee’s work the independence and credibility expected of it. After submitting a report to the Committee in his oral testimony, the Committee said it was not provided with any fuller report by Mr. Mensah or the GOC’s Secretariat.”

The Committee revealed that it was also not satisfied with the conduct of the President of the GOC and expressed its surprise that Mr. Mensah did not present himself as a willing witness, and therefore described the conduct of the GOC President as unco-operative for failing to produce a copy of the appointment letter of the Chef de Mission; a letter from the Chief Executive of the NSA on the release of two NSA staff the Committee found crucial to the discharge of its assignment; the introductory letters said to have been signed off by the 1st Vice President of the GOC for accreditation of the media for the Committee’s examination.

It could be recalled that about 60 Ghanaians were detained and deported from Australia and Singapore for attempting to enter Australia by false pretense during the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.

By a letter dated 16th May, 2018 issued under the name of the Secretary General of the Ghana Olympic Committee (GOC,) the jurisdiction of the Disciplinary/Grievance/Dispute Resolution Sub-Committee was invoked on the authority of the Executive Board of the GOC which received the report of the Chief of Mission (CDM) to investigate the immigration/visa issues arising from the participation of Team Ghana at the Games.

But the GOC’s top hierarchy became very hostile to the Committee’s work after the government of Ghana cleared the then Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Pius Enam Hadzide and the Board Chairman of the NSA Kwadwo Baah Agyeman of any wrongdoing the scam in July, 2018.

The Committee finally relocated its offices from the GOC’s office at Ridge to a new location at the University of Ghana Legon owing to the hostility of the GOC towards its work.

It eventually presented its report to the GOC in February, 2019.

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