The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hanna Tetteh, has told the Public Accounts Committee sitting, that her outfit is yet to recover an amount of $5,800 spent on bringing home some Ghanaian footballers who were stranded in Iran in 2013.
It was reported in 2013 that a group of seven footballers and their agent traveled in pursuit of a football contract in Iran but got their dreams dashed, when they realized on arrival that no such opportunities existed.
Investigations revealed that the said footballers were swindled by the agent who promised to get them Iranian clubs to ply their trade.
The victims reportedly held fake passports, expired visas and no work permit as of the time of their arrest. The situation compelled the Ghana mission in Iran to raise funds to bring them back home to Ghana.
Speaking at the Public Accounts Committee sitting on Monday, the sector Minister, Hannah Tetteh, said the issue had been referred to the Attorney General because all attempts to recover the money from the football agent has been unsuccessful.
“We have referred it because we are obliged to make efforts to recover the money but I hope that when the Attorney General takes up the matter and hopefully gets an order for payment, we will be able to recover something,” Madam Tetteh stated.
She also justified the expenditure of $5,800 saying the Ghanaians stranded in Tehran faced imprisonment since they held fake passports and expired visas.
Ministry does not expect refund of $5,800
When the stranded footballers and their agent arrived in Ghana, the Foreign Ministry informed the agent that he was obliged to refund the money spent.
“On arrival, I invited them together with the agent to my office and I explained to him that this was now an obligation his part to us because we helped them because of the circumstances and not because there was an obligation on our part to do so and we were expecting to get a refund.”
Madam Tetteh however indicated that she was not optimistic the Ministry will receive any refund from the agent.
“No refund has been made. That is the reason we referred it for redress but I am not optimistic that even if we go through all that process we will get a refund in all likelihood.”
The PAC Chairman, Kweku Agyemang Manu, was not satisfied with the Foreign Minster’s explanation and queried her on why she did not report the matter to the police given the circumstances.
“Immediately the man arrived, he should have been picked up,” Mr. Manu stated sternly.
He subsequently recommended that the case to be withdrawn from the AG’s office and forwarded to the police because in his view, it is a criminal matter.