…Over Finance Minister’s $2.25billion bond sale to his friend’s company
Dynamic Youth Movement Of Ghana (DYMOG), the civil society group which recently called on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate the Franklin Templeton scandal has indicated intent to formally petition the two institutions today.
Edward Nuttor, Convener of DYMOG, yesterday told Accra-based Radio Gold that his group will petition the SEC and CHRAJ today if the call on them to investigate the Finance Minister remains not acted upon.
Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, is in the thick of a scandalous sale of $2.25billion worth of bonds to Franklin Templeton, a company in which the Finance Minister’s business partner, Trevor G. Trefgarne, is a Board member.
With Mr. Trefgarne concurrently being the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Enterprise Group, a company that is partly owned by the Finance Minister, the sale of 95% of the bonds to Franklin Templeton has raised conflict of interest concerns.
More so, available information indicates that the sale of the bonds had been shrouded in secrecy, with the sale virtually kept from the Ghanaian public without invitations to tender.
It was while the public sentiment against the bond sale was high that DYMOG issued a statement calling on the SEC and CHRAJ to investigate the possible breach of Ghana’s Public Borrowing Guidelines (GPBG) and conflict of interest respectively.
Yesterday, the group’s Convener told Radio Gold’s Samuel Eshun that since the request, nothing has been heard from the ends of the SEC and CHRAJ, saying that, if by today, nothing is heard from the two bodies, they will officially petition the two bodies.
Such a petition would be a complement to pressure already on the state to investigate the Finance Minister, as the Minority National Democratic Congress Members of Parliament have already demanded a Parliamentary Enquiry into the transaction.
On April 3, 2017, the Public Relations unit of the Ministry of Finance issued a statement that announced that the Ministry had successfully issued a 15 and 7 year bonds, with the same coupon rate of 19.75%.
In total, the two bonds had yielded 1.13billion dollars. Additionally, the statement announced that the Ministry had raised 1.12billion dollars through a 5 and 10 year bonds via, “a tap arrangement.”
Even though the sale of the 2.25 billion dollar bonds by President Akufo-Addo’s cousin of a Finance Minister is the single biggest daily transaction in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, indications are that it did not go through Parliament.
The Finance Ministry’s statement, strangely, did not also state the names of the individuals or companies which had participated in its purchase of the bonds, except to say that, “the issuance attracted a number of global portfolio investors including a very substantial investment in the 15 year bond by a very well respected global financial investor.”
In a report that has since gone viral on social media, international news agency, Reuters, which has mockingly referred to the bond issuance by Akufo-Addo’s Finance Minister as, “a jumbo debt action” reveals that the “well respected global financial investor” in question is a Board member of US based Franklin Templeton.
According to Reuters, the revelation had been made by a senior government official who had spoken on condition of anonymity. Based in the US, Franklin Templeton is a global investment management organization with very serious international cachet.
Reuters reported that Franklin Templeton’s bond Fund Manager, with a larger than life personality, Dr. Michael Hasenstab, had taken dominant position in the bonds issued by President Akufo-Addo’s cousin and Finance Minister.
The total percentage of the bonds bought by the company is not exactly known though it is said to be over 95%, with another company, Estate Street said to have bought less than 5%. However, Franklin Templeton’s dominant participation in the purchase of the bonds is interesting because of one Hon. Trevor G. Trefgarne.
While Hon. Trefgarne is reported as having been listed in a December 31st, 2016 unedited semi-annual report of Franklin Templeton as one of the company’s five Board of Directors, a compilation of his credentials, in the same report also named him as the Chairman of Enterprise Group Limited based in Ghana.
Indeed on the website of the Enterprise Group, Trevor G. Trefgarne’s picture is affixed and labeled as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Enterprise Group.
The interesting catch is that this Board of Directors Chaired by Mr. Trefgarne includes Keli Gadzekpo, Group Chief Executive of Enterprise Group and Dr. Angela Ofori-Atta, who doubles as a Director of Enterprise Insurance, a subsidiary of the Enterprise Group.
Dr. Angela Ofori Atta is the wife of the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta!
It is to be noted that Akufo-Addo’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Gloria Akuffo, is listed along Dr. Angela Ofori-Atta as non Executive members of Enterprise Group.
Selfsame Gloria Akuffo is a former employee of the Enterprise Group, having worked as a Director of Enterprise Life, a subsidiary of Enterprise Group.
As the writing on the wall indicates that Enterprise Group has bought a domineering amount of the bond that was all but secretly issued by the Finance Ministry, it is noteworthy that the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, partnered with the Group Chief Executive of Enterprise Group, Keli Gadzekpo, to found Data Bank in 1990.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Fiifi Samuels