At least 19 persons are under investigations for their roles in the $100m purchase of four helicopters by Ghana National Gas Company, said to be overpriced.

No names have been given by investigators at Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) but an audit authorised by Cabinet has mentioned former CEO, Dr. George Sipa-Adja Yankey and former Board chairman, Prof. Kwesi Botchwey and some former Board members.

Government has indicated, the purchase of the four helicopters, which was commissioned by President John Mahama in September 2015, did not represent value for money.

The Monitoring and Evaluation Minister, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei said in 2017, the helicopters could have been bought from the US at a unit price of $8m not $25 million.

The Ghana National Gas Company’s Communications Director, Ernest Owusu Bempah has claimed, Cambodia bought similar helicopters from the same Chinese vendor for $15.8m each, while Ghana bought each of the fourZ-9EH choppers for almost $25m.

“Look at the price difference..”, he expressed disgust in an interview with Corruption Watch reporter Frederick Asiamah.

He said although the ‘young company’ paid  $5.5m for ground support equipment, they have not supplied as stated in the 2012 contract with China National Aero Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC).

Mr. Owusu Bempah also claimed although Ghana Gas paid $11.2m for helicopter hangars, it cannot find the hangars.

The helicopters are stationed at the Air Force base in Accra and have not been used for the intended purpose of surveillance of a large network of pipelines and gas infrastructure spread out offshore and onshore in Atuabo in the Western region.

He believes Ghana Gas was used to buy helicopters for the military because although the company paid $1.8m for training “we don’t see the people who were trained”.

EOCO investigations are expected to lead to prosecution after the Cabinet report on the helicopters purchase found procurement irregularities, price inflation and non-performance of the contract.

Ghana took loan facility from the China Development Bank (CDB). Chinese loans require that the product to be purchased must be from China.