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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Ex-MD explains how SSHFC bought Ocean Bay Hotel

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By Baba Sillah

The former managing director of Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation, Tumbul Danso, yesterday reappeared before the Janneh Commission to shed light on the purchase, refurbishment and renovation of Ocean Bay Hotel by the corporation among other issues.
Mr Danso began his evidence by informing the Commission that at the time the hotel was purchased by the corporation, he was the director of housing.
Mr Danso further testified that they had series of meetings with ministries of finance, tourism and the corporation after they made a proposal for the purchase of the hotel.
At that juncture, he was given some documents which he admitted he had seen before and subsequently they were applied by Counsel Batchilly as evidence.
A letter dated 30 May, 2002, was shown to Mr Danso which he confirmed was written to the Ministry of Finance for the purchase of the hotel. Mr Danso however posited that they would not classify the hotel as a Four-Star, adding that when they bought the hotel, the desire of the management was to transform it to a five-star hotel.

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The former corporation boss further recalled that the hotel was purchased for D45 million from the government, after the Malian tycoon, Babanding Sissoho transferred it to government.
Mr Danso further revealed that the management realised that the money the corporation had was not enough to upgrade the hotel to a five-star hotel and they had to hire a consultant, Robert Aswanden to solve their problem.

At that juncture, he was shown a letter written to Mr Aswanden which he said he had seen before. The letters were tendered and admitted in evidence. Another letter dated 1st July, 2002, indicating the purchase of the hotel was shown to him, and he said he had seen it before.
Mr Danso also told the enquiry the Ministry of Finance indicated that they should open up for bids for renovation and that there were five bidders but eight companies actually collected the bidding documents…..
He said Mr Aswanden was hired as a consultant to appraise the bids. It was put to him that Emporium was invited to submit a bid, and that it was Mr Aswanden who appraised it, which he confirmed.

Mr Danso also confirmed that Emporium had its weaknesses when it comes to constructional issues, and that two board members did not agree for the contract to be awarded to Emporium.
He told the commission that there was a resolution to change the name of the hotel. At this juncture, documents indicating the renovation and refurbishment of the hotel were tendered and admitted as exhibits.
Sittings continue today.

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