– $2.25Billion KenBond Scandal

…As NDC Blows Cover With Press Conference This Week

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Minority in Parliament has discovered more rascality in the $2.25billion bond sale to Franklin Templeton, a company affiliated to a business partner of the Finance Minister.

And the NDC is more than happy to share.

This week, therefore, the opposition party will hold a press conference in Accra, to, among other things, vent the fresh stench that is exuding from the smelly sale of the bond which Reuters has called ‘a jumbo debt auction.’

Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, last Saturday, said on Accra-based Radio Gold that the revelations will be explosive, hinting that there is more international dimension to the KENBOND scandal than meets the eye at the moment.

As appetizers, Hon. Ablakwa stated that the $2.25billion bond was a plain vanilla bond and not a callable bond which presupposes that some premiums had been paid that the Finance Minister is trying to keep under wraps.

The difference is that Plain Vanilla is a basic form of bond issuance of which is plain and simple, while the Callable is one that the bond buyer can opt out at anytime.

Okudzeto Ablakwa reiterated that only GHc4.8billion out of over GHc9billion that the bond sale has raised from the book building technique has been accounted for by the Finance Minister, questioning the whereabouts of the rest of the money.

The MP for North Tongu also dangled question marks about the legal advisors for the bond issuance, which Ghana’s Attorney General has severally said was done on her blind side.

Already, the Minority in Parliament has been on an accelerated campaign for full disclosure of details surrounding the bond issuance following from the Finance Minister’s appearance in Parliament last week.

In response to a half-hour motion filed by the Minority, Ken Ofori-Atta had gone to Parliament to tip-toe round the demand by the Minority to lift a shroud of secrecy surrounding the bond sale.

Cherry-picking on the floor of the august House, the Finance Minister had wounded up refusing to reveal the names of other so-called investors who had participated in the purchase of the bond, claiming that revealing the names of such investors was not right.

Ken Ofori-Atta had deepened suspicion about the bond sale by refusing to produce the agreement covering the bond transaction to members of Parliament.

According to Hon. Ablakwa, in addition to not producing the agreement covering the bond transaction, Ken Ofori-Atta also refused to make available a full document of the utility of the money that accrued from the bond sale and even the proper prospectus covering the transaction.

According to him, rather than a fit-to-fashion prospectus on the sale to FT, the Finance Minister had tried to play smart in an ongoing obscurantism over the bond sale by producing a prospectus that former Finance Minister, Seth Terkper, had put together on bond sale.

But the prospectus by Seth Terkper, Hon. Ablakwa said, is not fit for purpose, as far as the bond sale to FT is concerned, explaining that Seth Terkper’s September 2016 prospectus was in respect of a Callable bond, while Ken Oforiu-Atta had sold a plain Vanilla bond to FT.

“It is obvious that the Finance Minister and the President are hiding something,” Hon Ablakwa said, adding that in an upcoming press conference on the issue by the Minority, new revelations will be made.

His position has been the position of the Minority, which immediately after the announcement of the bond sale by the Finance Ministry had called a press conference to demand for full disclosure.

The smelly KENBOND scandal entails the Finance Minister selling 95% of a 15-year bond to Franklin Templeton, a company in which his business partner, Trevor Trefgarne, is a director.

Upon the sale, which had curiously been done in less than 100 days that the NPP had been in power with President Akufo-Addo still appointing people into the administration, the Finance Ministry’s announcement had carefully hidden the name of Franklin Templeton as the majority buyer of the bond.

The ministry had only described FT as a ‘respected international investor.’

It had taken the media to dig up the name of FT and the fact that the company which also employs Trevor Trefgarne as a director had bought 95% of the bonds. Thenceforward, even the names of other so-called investors who had made bids to buy some of the bonds have not been provided by the Finance Ministry.

Rather, upon the Minority starting the campaign for full disclosure, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia had insulted that Minority MPs seeking the full disclosure were “stark ignoramuses.”

The Minority has since petitioned the Securities and Exchanges Commission of the US to investigate the issue, with the US SEC appointing a case manager for the issue.

Meanwhile, the seeming lies that the government keeps telling over the KENBOND scandal has led to entanglements that have left the Finance Minister looking very awkward.

On his last Wednesday’s appearance before Parliament, the minister had claimed that the bond sale was rather supposed to be applauded because the government was only raising money for debt re-profiling and that this will not create any debts.

As the Minority laughed at that claim by a government which had disparaged the erstwhile Mahama administration from opposition for borrowing too much, it has been pointed out that the coupon rate at which Ken Ofori-Atta issued the FT bond belies his claim that his decision to borrow to pay debt will not create new debt.

It has been pointed out to the Finance Minister and his government that the debt that he is trying to service was created with the issuance of a bond at a coupon rate of between 16.% and 16.4%. Therefore, borrowing at the astronomical coupon rate of 19.5% to service such a debt is not really intelligent.

The minister’s attempt to explain away the fact that the bond issuance had been done without recourse to Parliament, with the claim that it was a domestic bond, has also been lampooned on the basis of the fact that the same minister has said the borrowing has shored up the Foreign Reserves of the country.

Foreign Reserves of Ghana are not in the local currency, but in dollars, an international currency. How local bond issuance has been bought with international currency by an offshore company has left Ken Ofori- Atta looking even more ridiculous as a Finance Minister.

The NDC is lacing its boots to reveal more damning details about the bond Franklin Templeton dirty deal this week.

More anon.



Source: Fiifi Samuels

The Republic News Online

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