Graphic Online

Graphic Online 

Why the Ghana Cylinder Manufacturing Company board suspended CEO

BY: Benjamin Glover & Della Russel Ocloo

The Board of Directors of the Ghana Cylinder Manufacturing Company (GCMC) has suspended the Chief Executive Officer, Ms Frances Essiam.

According to sources close to Graphic Online, the board, at an emergency meeting Tuesday, resolved to suspend Ms Essiam following some disagreements.

Before the emergency meeting, some customers of the GCMC had been turned away from doing business with the company following an alleged order by Ms Essiam to shut the company down.

The production of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) bottles and the sale of LPG were suspended, while the workers were allegedly instructed by the CEO to stay off work.

The speculation was that the directive to the workers to stay at home was because the CEO wanted to prevent the company’s board of directors from holding an emergency meeting on the premises over allegations of corruption and alleged procurement deals.

Some customers who were at the company to do business left disappointed, as there were no officials to attend to them when the Daily Graphic visited the company at 12 noon Tuesday.


Even the security people at the main entrance refused to engage the customers, compelling them to leave after waiting for some time.
Members of the board of directors who turned up at the company at 2:20 p.m. yesterday to attend the emergency meeting were also locked out and had to use the Robinhood Hotel nearby as an alternative venue for the meeting.

Some operatives of the National Security who were also on the factory premises about 2:35 p.m. nearly had a standoff with journalists who were taking photographs of the company’s locked gate, with the notice “No Gas” posted on it.

Concerns

The Chairman of the GCMC Board, Mr Frank Boakye Agyen, had, in a letter dated April 13, 2018 and addressed to the Chief of Staff, with a copy to the Minister of Energy, requested Ms Essiam to answer to the company’s old machinery which had been discarded and sold as scrap metal without due process.

The letter also queried the decision of the CEO to award purchase and construction contracts without prior approval from the Ministry of Energy.

It also queried Ms Essiam’s decision to procure loans for the payment of salaries without the necessary approval.

Sources at the company told the Daily Graphic that at the close of work on Monday, May 7, 2018, the workers were called by some of the top officials of the company and asked not to report for work Tuesday.

CEO’s response

Ms Essiam, who spoke to the Daily Graphic on telephone, denied that the company had shut down its operations for yesterday and described the corruption allegations as baseless.

She said the company had run out of LPG and also had no domestic cylinders for sale.

She added that the bottles they had in stock were for distinct clients and not for sale to the public.

“The board chairman is just making baseless accusations of corruption, malpractices, mismanagement, procurement. He is just saying things without any basis, and as far as I am concerned, there have been no corruption, mismanagement and procurement infractions. The board chairman who is alleging must prove, and since he is coming with equity, he must come with clean hands,” she said.

Asked how long the shutdown would last, Ms Essiam shot back: “Who said the company has been shut down? If you go to an organisation and you do not meet those in charge, does that mean the organisation has shut down?”

She said the issues involving the company’s operations were being handled by the State Enterprises Commission.

Board Chairman

The Board Chairman, who was in the vicinity of the company’s premises, declined to comment on the incident.

“We are yet to hold our meeting and we will communicate our decision to the media subsequently,” Mr Agyen told journalists who were at the factory to get first-hand information on the closure.