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    Benedict Peter, the Nigerian ‘fugitive’ who made over $130m at Ghana’s Airport within 2 years

    Nigerian billionaire businessman Benedict Peters, the owner of Aiteo Group of Companies in Nigeria, finds himself entangled in a web of controversy as allegations of corruption and questions surrounding the COVID-19 testing contract in Ghana continue to swirl.

    A civil society group has dragged Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to court, demanding Peters’ arrest and prosecution over corruption allegations. Meanwhile, the lack of transparency regarding the USD 150 COVID-19 test at Kotoka International Airport in Accra has left travelers and Ghana’s political landscape in turmoil.

    Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa who revealed some details of the Frontier contract with the Ghana Airport Company, (GACL) stated that GACL made $10 out of every $150 collected for COVID test at Ghana’s Airport.

    According to him, Frontier is estimated to have made a colossal $130m from the 2-year contract

    “It is as though somebody has put a gun to their head and they are just making all kinds of offers to frontiers which are skewed, imbalance, which are against their own interest. Will you believe that this offer letter says that though we know you are going to charge $150 per test, we are only interested in $10. We will take only ten dollars. Can you believe that? he quizzed host during an interview over the phone. Per our calculation Frontier made not less that $130m dollars.”

    Allegations and Accusations

    Peters, a prominent figure in Nigeria’s business world, is facing a barrage of corruption allegations. The Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET) in Nigeria has accused him of involvement in various economic crimes, including conspiracy to commit fraud, tax evasion, corruption, and money laundering through his Aiteo Group of Companies, which includes Aiteo Eastern E & P Company Ltd, Aiteo Energy Limited, and Aiteo Energy Resources Ltd.

    In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/239/2021, CESJET filed a petition at the Federal High Court in Abuja, urging the EFCC to revisit these allegations and bring Benedict Peters to justice. The petition was filed on the grounds that specific demands for the performance of statutory duties must be made on government agencies such as the EFCC before seeking a Writ of Mandamus.

    The petitioners emphasized that, regardless of how highly placed an individual may be, no one is above the law in Nigeria, and there are no limitations to criminal prosecution. These allegations have significantly tarnished Peters’ reputation.

    Controversy Surrounding COVID-19 Testing Contract

    In Ghana, a separate controversy has been brewing over the COVID-19 testing contract awarded to Frontier Healthcare Services Limited (FHSL), a company linked to Benedict Peters. The contract involved conducting COVID-19 tests at Kotoka International Airport in Accra for a hefty fee of USD 150, a cost that has drawn sharp criticism.

    One of the central issues surrounding this contract is a lack of transparency. Questions have arisen regarding who approved the contract and why it was awarded to a foreign company, FHSL, despite its incorporation only 40 days prior to the reopening of the air borders. Officials of the Akufo-Addo administration have been tight-lipped about the details of the Frontier contract, further fueling suspicions.

    Ownership Suspicion and Ultimate Beneficial Owner

    The ownership structure of FHSL has been shrouded in suspicion. According to Registrar-General’s documents, FHSL is owned by another Ghanaian company called Healthcare Solution Services Limited (HSSL), which was incorporated on June 3, 2020. However, HSSL itself is wholly owned by another company called The Peters Family Company Ltd, which is incorporated in Dominica, a well-known offshore tax haven.

    This convoluted ownership structure raises questions about the ultimate beneficial owner of these companies. The Registrar General’s Department has no records of the actual Ultimate Beneficial Owner, leaving a trail of foreign and local directors who may be acting as fronts for the real owners.

    Contract Implementation and Criticism

    Despite the lack of clarity surrounding its ownership, FHSL was awarded the COVID-19 testing contract at Kotoka International Airport. However, investigations have revealed that much of the work was carried out by scientists from Noguchi and nurses from the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, with Nigerian supervisors overseeing the operations. This arrangement has raised eyebrows and led to criticism of the decision to award the contract to a foreign company.

    Directors and Domain Ownership

    The directors of FHSL include Jean-Laurent Louis and Samuel Bansah, with Bansah also serving as the company’s secretary. On the other hand, HSSL’s directors include Samuel Bansah, Jean-Laurent Louis, and RATKO KNEZVIC, with Chuks Chukwunwike serving as the secretary of HSSL.

    Moreover, investigations into the FHSL website, where travelers were directed to pay the USD 150 fee for COVID-19 tests using credit or debit cards, have revealed copyright violations. The website is managed by First Atlantic Bank, and its domain name was purchased on August 27, 2020, by an offshore company based in Panama, expiring on August 27, 2021.

    The Mysterious Peters Family Company Ltd

    The mysterious Peters Family Company Ltd, located in Dominica’s capital city, Roseau, is believed to be connected to Nigerian billionaire Benedict Peters. Investigators have expressed confidence in this connection. Benedict Peters is a well-known figure in Nigeria and is the present Chairman of Aiteo Group of Companies.

    Aiteo Group and Peters’ Net Worth

    Aiteo Group of Companies, described as the largest indigenous oil-producing firm in Nigeria by output, is a significant part of Benedict Peters’ business portfolio. His estimated net worth stands at around USD 3 billion, making him the seventh richest man in Nigeria and the 17th richest man in Africa, according to reputable sources. Notably, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Nigeria, Peters donated USD 30 million to the country’s COVID-19 fund.

    Previous Legal Encounters and Exile

    Benedict Peters has had previous legal encounters with Nigerian authorities. In 2017, while he was out of Nigeria, the EFCC declared him wanted in connection with alleged crimes involving former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Maudeke. The EFCC also imposed an Interim Forfeiture Order on his properties in the UK, which were valued at billions of dollars. However, the Supreme Court of Nigeria lifted this order, accusing the EFCC of misstatements, concealment, and misrepresentation of facts.

    In 2018, a high court in Nigeria ordered Peters to be removed from the wanted list, as the EFCC had failed to obtain a warrant before listing him. Following his removal from the list, Benedict Peters did not return to Nigeria but went into self-imposed exile.

    Current Exile in Ghana

    Intelligence gathered by GhanaWeb indicates that Benedict Peters has been in self-imposed exile in Ghana since 2018. He is reported to have close ties with former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and is known to be a friend of Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo.

    As the allegations and controversies surrounding Benedict Peters continue to make headlines, both Nigeria and Ghana are closely watching developments, awaiting further clarity on these complex and intertwined issues.


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