…As Finance Minister pleads for more time over
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Ashanti Regional Youth Organizer, Yaw Brogya Genfi, has told this paper that he is disturbed with efforts by the Minister of Finance to buy extra time of 15 days to be able to respond to his petition.
Bronya Genfi had submitted the petition to the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) over the alleged conflict of interest in a recent US$ 2.25 billion bond issued by the Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Finance.
He feels vindicated and positive that Ghanaians will somehow get to know the actual truth surrounding the US$2.25 billion bond, which was shrouded in secrecy.
However, the Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta, through the Chief Director at the Finance Ministry, responded to the summons from CHRAJ titled “Allegation of contravention or non compliance with Article 284 of the 1992 Constitution by Ken Ofori-Atta – A public officer; Request for Comment,” requesting additional 15 working days aside from the initial 10 working days given to him to submit his response.
The Chief Director of the ministry, Mr. Patrick Nomo, in a letter dated May 11, 2017, requested the extension of time.
The extension, according to the letter, was necessary to properly respond to the issues raised by CHRAJ in their letter to the Minister on May 5, 2017.
The ministry said in order to properly respond to the issues with supporting documentation, an extension of time by an additional 15 business days was required.
He said that would enable him properly coordinate with all relevant parties, including external transaction advisors, for the information to be provided.
Mr. Brogya Genfi’s initial petition to the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice over the US$2.25 billion was greeted with stiff condemnation, especially from members of the ruling party with majority of them describing the move as a fruitless and aimless mission embarked upon by the NDC youth organizer.
But the Ministry of Finance request to CHRAJ for more days raises lots of questions and also tends to imply that the Finance Minister failed the state by doing a shady deal, hence trying to buy time to cover his tracks before addressing appropriately the issues raised against him.
Mr. Genfi expressed shock at the extra 15 days’ request by the Finance Minister, especially at a time when most people in the ruling party believes that the petition has no basis and lacks credibility.
He said he is hopeful that CHRAJ will ensure that the right is done.
Bronya Genfi alleged in his petition that, “a number of issues of conflict of interest and the lack of transparency have emerged from the bond issuance.”
For instance, he stated, “the bonds were not on the issuance calendar; the initial pricing guidelines of the bond were issued after working hours on March 30, 2017, while the public announcement of the transaction was sent by email at 9:09 am on March 31, 2017. That meant that the transaction was opened before the announcement was made to the public.
Mr Genfi further alleged that April 3, 2017 was the Settlement Date and not the closing date of the bond. He said one single investor, Franklin Templeton Investment Limited, an American global investment management organisation founded in 1947 purchased 95 per cent of the bond issued.”
Mr. Genfi was of the view that “a relational interest existed between the Minister of Finance and Mr. Trevor G Trefgarne, who in a semi-annual report of the Franklin Templeton Investment Limited of December 31, 2016, is named as one of the Board of Directors of the organisation, while also being the Chairman of the Enterprise Group Limited.
“Enterprise Group Limited is a company partially owned by Data Bank Limited, a company in which the Finance Minister is known to have significant interest,” Mr. Genfi said.
He also complained that Mr. Tevor G Trefgarne and the Minister of Finance had also been described as “great friends.”
CHRAJ after its preliminary assessment of the petition asked the Minister of Finance for his comments on the allegations made against him.
It had asked the minister in his responses, to as much as possible, support with any documents or information, “within 10 days and, if you admit to the allegations, to state so expressly.”
“The Commission would like to inform you that if you deny the allegations made against you, the Commission would cause the matter to be investigated,” the letter added.