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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Inside Liberian Vice President Jeremiah Koung Ties With Ghana Ibrahim Mahama

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By Festus Poquie

Dressed in a dark safari suit, Vice President Jeremiah Koung Saturday boarded a private jet to Accra Ghana, opening a flamboyant charter to his new role as Liberia’s second most powerful politician.

This show of power and affluent draws fresh mummeries of the six years lifestyle of the man Koung and his boss President Joseph Boakai ousted democratically in Nov.

2024 to deliver change and prosperity to destitute population living on less than a dollar a day.

During his reign, former President George Weah used private jet to travel waya from the country. Weah told critics the airline belongs a good friend who gave him permission to use for his foreign visits to boost his morale.

Koung is now walking in Weah’s shoes. The private airline that took him to Accra while traveling to Nigeria belongs to a Good Samaritan who he ran into at a local hotel in Monrovia, Koung told Front Page Africa.

But who is this Good Samaritan and what was he doing in Monrovia? What interest does he have in the Vice President?

Ibrahim Mahama is the identity of the Ghanian businessman who gave lift to Koung in the air. The exact context of their relationship remains unclear but smears with business interest and potential conflict of interest.

Like Mahama, Koung has business stakes. The new government has outline series of capital investment projects and programs that would drive interest from mega businesspeople across Africa and beyond.

Ibrahim Mahama is a brother of the former president of Ghana, John Mahama. Ghanaian media report that Mahama, the CEO of Engineers & Planners Company Limited, is under investigation by Ghana’s economic and organized crimes office for allegedly issuing bad checks.

In 2016, Ghanaian authorities took Mahama’s company to court for allegedly not paying social security payments to staff; the case was later settled.

Mahama is mentioned in the  revelations from Africa documented in the Paradise Papers, a global investigation into the offshore transactions of some of the world’s biggest corporations and wealthiest people.

The cache of secret records was leaked from Appleby, a Bermuda-based law firm that provides legal advice to business elites.

Together, the 13.4 million documents shed light on the top end of the world of offshore finance, and how the politically powerful take advantage of the system, deal in corruption and bribery, and avoid paying taxes.

In 2013, representatives of Mahama and his contracting company Engineers and Planners Company Limited contacted Appleby about creating two offshore companies in the Isle of Man but ended up creating only one.

That company, Red Sky Aviation Limited, was used to hold a $7 million Bombardier Challenger jet.

The second company was intended for “consulting services in the oil and gas mining infrastructure development and real estate sectors of the Ghanaian economy.”

Appleby ranked Mahama and his companies as a high risk due to his relationship to the then-president and allegations in local media that government funds were being used to repay the company’s multimillion-dollar bank loan. Mahama’s company denied any wrongdoing.

A representative of Engineers & Planners Company Limited declined to respond to specific questions and told ICIJ that there was nothing illegal in the use of offshore companies.

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