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KRL damns allegations of illegal cash-in on Ghana connections

The US-based consultancy denies claims that it turned work for NPP into a government contract or breached Ghana and US law

The United States-based consultancy KRL International has denied allegations that it flouted Ghana’s laws by accepting payment from the Government of Ghana for work the firm did for the New Patriotic Party in the lead-up to the 2016 general election.

The allegations, published on a website called Open Source Investigations, suggest that KRL also breached US law by providing services to a foreign political party (by implication the NPP) while being paid by the government of a foreign country (by implication Ghana).

Open Source Investigations (OSI) published an article, dated 10 August 2020, claiming that President Akufo-Addo had used state funds illegally to pay foreign election consultants. The claims are repeated in reports in today’s Daily Herald and Insight newspapers (Wednesday 26 August). Neither of these reports carries a byline.

KRL worked for the Akufo-Addo campaign on the 2016 election campaign. The company says its relationship with the Akufo-Addo ticket dates back to 2008. It has had a separate working relationship with Ghana’s Ministry of Finance since the NPP government entered office in January 2017.

The story in the Herald insinuates that the current government has extended the contract with the pro-NPP foundation, paying the consultancy firm a fee, through the Ministry of Finance, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Attributes no claims

OSI, a cloud-based website, styles itself as an international organisation of investigative journalists, researchers, fact-checkers and data experts. It publishes no writers’ or editors’ names, offers no proof of sourcing, and gives no indication where it is based.

In a statement dated 26 August and signed by Laura Brunts, director of KRL, the firm says that its “relationship with Nana Akufo-Addo dates back to his 2008 campaign. It has been transparent and proper.”

The company notes that the “document which OSI cites as a ‘contract extension’ dated 28 February 2017 is in fact a reporting document submitted [by KRL] to the [US] Department of Justice on that date”.

Both newspaper reports allege that payments to settle an extended contract between KRL and the I Am for Nana Foundation, a pressure group active during the Election 2016 campaign, were made by the Office of the President-elect during the period of transition between the NPP and the National Democratic Congress in early 2017.

The KRL statement denies the allegations and sets out evidence that the claims in the OSI story misinterpret documentation presented by KRL to the US Department of Justice. They also refer to a non-existent “Office of the President-Elect”. The story offers no proof of illegal payments for an agreement covering an extension of consultancy services after the handover of power to the NPP government in January 2017, the firm states.

Track record

Founded by K Riva Levinson in 2007, KRL International is a political research and public relations consultancy. It describes itself as “a boutique consulting firm providing comprehensive, custom-fit services to bridge the divide between Washington, DC and the world’s emerging markets”.

It has a respected reputation and an impressive track record of political lobbying, research and consultancy for various African governments, including those of Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf describes it as having been “instrumental in assisting Liberia in its economic recovery process”.

The firm’s expertise includes services from World Bank advisors, congressional staffers, former US government officials and non-profit managers.

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