14th July 2024

Details are emerging about how members of the erstwhile John Dramani Mahama government acquired properties worth $8,409,400 in Dubai, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), under suspicious circumstances.

A report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), one of the largest investigative journalism organizations in the world, revealed that Inusah Abdulai Bistav Fuseini, former MP for Tamale Central who served as Minister for Roads from 2013-2017, owns 20 apartments across five luxury buildings with a total estimated value of $7,240,400. The properties include eight apartments at The One at Jumeirah Village Triangle, four apartments at Millennium Place, and two apartments at Wyndham Dubai Marina. The rest are four apartments in Sky Central Hotel and The One Hotel.

Additionally, Moses Aduku Asaga, a former Member of Parliament for Nabdam in the Upper East Region and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) during the John Mahama regime, owns an apartment worth $133,100 in the prestigious Spirit Tower, a 19-story residential building in the Sports City of Dubailand.

OCCRP’s investigation found that the Mahama appointees are part of individuals identified as alleged criminals, individuals facing sanctions, and political figures accused of corruption who have owned property in Dubai’s high-rises and villas, which serve as safe havens for such individuals due in part to the secrecy the country’s real estate sector affords.

Experts interviewed by OCCRP said there are several factors that strengthen Dubai’s appeal for people, particularly for those who are thwarted by sanctions from owning property in Western democracies, or are on the run from law enforcement. They noted that one pull factor is the vast offerings of high-end real estate in the country. Additionally, Dubai holds another allure for those with ill-gotten cash to spend: the reputation among some of the city’s realtors for a few-questions-asked approach when it comes to the origins of investors’ funds.

Between their status as politically-exposed persons (PEPs) or appearance on sanctions lists, the dozens of individuals found by OCCRP should have immediately raised red flags under any basic risk assessment. However, in an undercover consultation with a salesperson from the leading Dubai real estate development firm Damac, SVT reporters were told they could pay in “bags of cash” or cryptocurrency to purchase a flat, and that they would face “zero questions” about their funds, making Dubai’s real estate sector an opportune destination for individuals with ill-gotten money to clean their cash.

Also on the list of Mahama’s appointees with property in Dubai is Justice Anthony Alfred Benin, a former Supreme Court Judge who was appointed to the Apex Court by Mr. Mahama in November 2012. Justice Benin owns two apartments in the First Central Hotel Apartments, which together sum up to $412,300.

Additionally, Dr. Joseph Kwaku Asamoah, a former Director of Finance at the Electoral Commission who was asked to proceed on leave in July 2017 over alleged misappropriation of GHC480,000 from the staff endowment fund, was later reinstated in 2018 when details emerged that he was not at post when the money went missing. Mr. Asamoah also owns two luxurious apartments at The One at Jumeirah Village Circle worth $623,600. Mr. Asamoah was an internal auditor of the Commission before seeing a meteoric rise in 2014 under John Mahama to the position of Director of Finance. He then became a signatory to all the Commission’s financial accounts on November 21, 2014, after the Commission wrote to its bankers to inform them.

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