The Daily Graphic newspaper has rendered an unqualified apology to the Ghana Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD) for publishing a story, which accused members of the CBOD of fraud.
“On April 23, 2015, we carried a story headlined “Massive Fraud exposed: BOST officials, BDCs cited,” in which we drew certain conclusions based on a document in our possession.
“Further discussions on the issue and the facts made available to us indicate that our conclusions were inaccurate. For this reason, we retract and apologize to BDCs……
“The error is deeply regretted,” the apology published on the Saturday, February 6, 2016 edition of the Daily Graphic and signed by the Editor of the paper noted.
The April 23, 2015 edition of the newspaper’s lead story, with the headline “Massive Fraud exposed: BOST officials, BDCs cited,” made a number of factual misrepresentations and published outright untruths with serious implications for the credibility and continued commercial viability of CBOD members.
Among other evidently exaggerated and damaging claims, the said publication unequivocally alleged a fraudulent conspiracy scheme between unnamed BDCs and officials of Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company (BOST).
The story said “…deliberate activities of top officials at BOST who supported BDCs to rob BOST of petroleum products at the depots, leading to significant petroleum product losses that affected the national strategic reserve of petroleum products.”
Following from the publication, lawyers for the CBOD, Darko, Keli-Delataa & Co. on January 11, 2016, wrote a rejoinder imploring the Daily Graphic to retract and apologize for publishing unfounded allegations against the membership of the CBOD.
The paper in its Monday, January 18, 2016 edition, published the rejoinder but failed to apologize for the wrong impression created by the story and the negative effects it had had on the businesses of CBOD members.
Follow Up letter
Thus a follow up letter dated January 20, 2016, signed by lawyers for CBOD to the paper acknowledged seeing the publication of their first rejoinder in the Monday, January 18, 2016 edition of the paper.
“We however wish to express our disappointment and that of our client at your failure to retract the story and to unreservedly apologize for the extensive damage it has done to the reputation of our client, its members and their commercial operations.
“As you were always aware, there was no basis for the criminal extrapolations your publication made from the Ernst & Young report, which publication inspired a nationwide public conversation about “massive fraud” by BDCs in conspiracy with BOST officials.
“Further, even if your publication was inspired by the public interest, such public interest justification is now gravely undermined by your failure to retract the defamatory story after public denials by senior officials of BOST, the same organization that is alleged to have lost strategic stock through the fraudulent conduct of BDCs.
“It is also a source of disappointment to our client that you neglected to give our rejoinder equal treatment as the original publication, and as required under the National Media Commission guidelines on publishing rejoinders.
“It is the hope of our client that given the facts that have become available to you after your publication, you would retract the front page story of the April 23, 2015 edition of your newspaper and unreservedly apologize to it in a manner that reflects the prominence and sensationalism with which the defamatory story was published,” the second rejoinder added.
“The retraction and apology from the newspaper, therefore, brings to rest the matter,” a CBOD source has added.