… As Ghc 5bn financial loss looms
The Minority in Parliament is accusing the minister of causing a GHC5 billion financial loss to the state in the raising of the US$2.5billion from the open market.
The minority which secured an opportunity to question Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta in parliament following weeks of pressure on government over the issuance of $2.25 billion bond.
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu last week filed a “half hour motion” seeking to invite the Minister to answer questions on the bond issue which the Majority in parliament willingly seconded.
An approval was given to the motion as the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu said the issue is one of public interest and since Members of Parliament are the representatives of the people, he, therefore, seconded the motion.
Speaker of Parliament Prof Mike Oquaye issued the summons on Wednesday May 31 after some legislators which gives the Finance Minister a week to prepare and make an appearance to clarify issues concerning the bond.
A half hour motion per Standing Order 49 (1) required that on the day the motion will be moved, whatever business is being transacted on the floor, 30 minutes before the House closes the one who filed the motion will be called by the Speaker to move the motion for the whole House if they agree to question the one invited.
Mr Iddrisu said he want the House to prevail upon the Finance Minister to furnish them with “the full complement of documentation relating to the issuance, participants, utilisation of the funds and currency in which the bond was settled.”
He indicated that he wanted to know the currency in which the bond was issued although the Minority acknowledged seeing a press release by government breakdown.
The Minority, at a press conference some weeks, said US-based firm Franklyn Templeton Investment Limited, which bought almost 95 per cent of the domestic bond, had private dealings with Mr Ofori-Atta.
It said the House is yet to be officially aware of the statement and want Ken Ofori-Atta in parliament. The NDC MPs are convinced the bond issue should have gone through parliament.
The minority has accused that, the bond issue, participated by only two investors, was “shrouded in secrecy to the extent that Ghanaian investors were denied the opportunity to participate in the deal.”
The MPs said one of the investors who patronized the bond, Franklyn Templeton, has a link to Enterprise Group Limited of which Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta is a co-founder.
They said one Trevor G. Trefgarne, who is the Board Chairman of Enterprise Insurance Limited and also on the Franklyn Templeton Investment Company as a Director, might have influenced the manner in which the bond was issued.
The Minority, has since then filed a complaint with the US Security and Exchange Commission alleging insider trading.
The Minority said: “Information that is now available in the public domain appears to indicate that Hon. Trevor G. Trefgarne is not just Board Chairman of Enterprise Insurance Limited, a company owned partially by the current Finance Minister’s company, Databank Limited. Hon. Trevor G. Trefgarne is also a Director of Franklyn Templeton which is the main participant in the recent Bond issuance.
“Putting these apparent facts together, we have reason to believe that there is a relational interest between our Finance Minister and Trevor G. Trefgarne which creates a potential lack of transparency and conflict of interest. As we all know, the constitution provides unequivocally that public officers shall not put themselves in a situation in which their private interest conflicts with their public obligations. There is no record available to us to the effect that the Finance Minister made known publicly this relational conflict of interest.
“In other words, he failed and/or neglected to declare his relationship with Trevor G. Trefgarne and the extent to which that relationship might have potentially affected the decision to sell majority of the bonds to Franklyn Templeton. Furthermore, there is no disclosure as to the extent to which the determination of the price of the bonds could also have been affected by this relationship between the Finance Minister and Franklyn Templeton.
“Now that a good link has been established between the Finance Minister and his friend Trevor, it is clear that the Finance Minister issued this bond in a way that will favour his friend, family and business partners. This situation is best described as cronyism and nepotism, cooked for his friend and associates, and not transparent.
“Under these circumstances, we wish to call for a full-scale parliamentary inquiry into whether, and the extent to which, this situation of lack of transparency and conflict of interest has adversely affected the welfare of the people of Ghana. Failing such parliamentary inquiry we the Minority shall have no option but to resort to using the conflict of interest jurisdiction of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). Furthermore, we also intend to exercise the option of filing a report/petition with the Financial Services Authority of the U.S.A to investigate Franklyn Templeton.
“We also wish to point out that this bond issue is clearly an international economic/business transaction within the meaning of article 181 (5) of the constitution. Therefore, we expected that the bond issuance would have been brought to parliament for approval.
This is because although the transaction appears as to be a domestic sale of bonds, it is in truth a “private placement” and an international economic transaction given the fact that Franklyn Templeton is a United States registered company and, therefore, qualifies as a foreign entity under article 181 (5) of the constitution. We, therefore, call on the Finance Minister to provide parliament with the full complement of documentation on this transaction for scrutiny and ratification.”
Source: Adnan Adams Mohammed