…Over KenBond Scandal
The Bank of Ghana (BoG) is about to be hauled before court if it continues to refuse to live up to the duty to provide information to the public on the $2.25billion bond sale to Franklin Templeton.
The People;s Forum (PF), a pressure group which has a standing request on the BoG to give information on that transaction, has served notice its patience is running out over the long pendency of the simple release of information on the transaction.
Clement Amole, Executive Secretary of PF, tells The Republic in an interview that lawyers of the group have been put on cue to start a legal tussle if the BoG keeps playing deaf-and-dumb over the simple demand.
It has been over two weeks since the Forum wrote to the BoG on 20th May to request information about the bond sale and how the proceeds were spent. But the government has used every dirty trick in the book to keep information under covers.
“In line with our constitutional right to information guaranteed by the Article 21 (1F) of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, the PEOPLE’S FORUM respectfully requests for… full disclosure regarding the $2.25 billion bonds issued by the Government of Ghana.”
The letter which had been signed by Clement Amole, Executive Secretary, asked for six specific disclosures related to the bond sale, carrying the hope that the BoG itself would be willing to furnish the public with more.
“Please confirm the date and time the proceeds of the said bonds were received in the government’s designated account at the Bank of Ghana; how much are the total disbursements from the proceeds to date?
“Kindly furnish us with the list of projects and activities for which the bond proceeds were disbursed and upon whose authority (or signatory) the requests for disbursements were made.
“Please confirm how much of the total proceeds from the bonds remain undisbursed as of 20 May 2017; please confirm whether or not the bond will pay interest to investors semiannually or annually.
“How much was spent on the bond issuance as fees or expenses for transaction advisors and other associated costs?” the letter asked.
The request letter had underscored that the People’s Forum was only requesting the information in the interest of the public and that it was prepared to use all legal means to get that information, if necessary.
Weeks after the request, the BoG has refused to even write back to acknowledge receipt of the request.
Clement Amole says this has compelled PF to look at starting a legal tussle in court to compel the BoG to release requested information. The march to court will however be forestalled if, within two weeks, the BoG brings itself to do the right thing.
In the event that the court case becomes necessary, PF would likely be suing for mandamus.
Meanwhile, the BoG’s cold shoulder to the PF dovetails an ongoing obscurantism that the Akufo-Addo government is perpetrating over the bond sale.
The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, was last week in Parliament in response to a ‘half hour’ motion that the Minority had filed over the $2.25billion bond sale. But rather than give better particulars on the bond sale, the minister had resorted to insults and nitpicking.
After proposing to “educate” the Minority on how bonds are sold, Ken Ofori-Atta also refused to reveal the names of other companies that he claims had also taken part in the bond sale.
The situation has left the Minority in fervent preparation for a press conference this week, with the MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, saying beforehand that there are details that will shock the public.
The Minority is already having a petition before the Securities and Exchange Commission of the US which has since appointed a case manager for the case.
The developments in the US come at a time that the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has received a belated response from the Finance Minister to a petition by Yaw Brogya Genfi, former Ashanti Regional youth organizer of the NDC, in which response, the Finance Minister claims CHRAJ has no jurisdiction to investigate aspects of the case.
Interestingly, the response had been filed on behalf of the Finance Minister by the Attorney General’s Department, even though the Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo, maintains that she knows nothing about the sale of the bond.
It has since been public knowledge, also, that the bond sale to FT had not had approval by Cabinet and had not received Parliamentary approval, even though proceeds from the sale to an offshore company have yielded money that, according to the government, improves the Foreign Reserves of the country.
Amidst the drama, the Dynamic Youth Movement of Ghana (DYMOG) has also reported that a petition to the Securities and Exchanges Commission of Ghana had been replied by SEC Ghana to the effect that the SEC Board has not yet been formed.
As the Ghana SEC is the one with responsibility to advise on securities, such as the $2.25billion bond, the secrecy shrouding the sale of the bond, which was sold to the Finance Minister’s best friend’s company, had only dilated.
It was amidst the climate of dangling questions that the People’s Forum had petitioned the BoG to give it information about the bond sale, but two weeks into that request, the BoG is playing deaf-mute.
Clement Amole, Executive Secretary of the PF, says that the pressure group is not going to sit down and receive ‘the silent treatment’ from the BoG.
He says the PF will soon be going to court to compel BoG to release information about the bond sale. For the avoidance of doubt, the Bank of Ghana should be guided by Article 183(2b) which mandates the Bank of Ghana as the sole custodian of State funds both in and outside Ghana. Thus the Bank of Ghana cannot demonstrate unwillingness to provide information about the receipt of the $2.25billion bond on behalf of Ghana government.
In April, this year, the Finance Ministry suddenly announced the sale of a 7 and 15 year bonds in a statement, revealing that a respected global player had taken a substantial position in the 15 year bond.
Without naming the ‘respected global player’ it had taken the media to discover that that global player was Franklin Templeton and that it had bought 95% of the bonds that were supposed to be domestic, but had paid in dollars.
Soon it was discovered that one of the directors of FT, Trevor G. Trefgarne, is also a business partner of the Finance Minister and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Finance Minister’s company, Enterprise Insurance.
The Minority NDC has since petitioned the US Securities and Exchanges Commission after a demand for Parliamentary Enquiry was not acted on, while Yaw Brogya Genfi and Lawyer Victor Adawudu have invoked the Conflict of Interest Jurisdiction of CHRAJ and petitioned the AG respectively.
The People’s Forum’s petition to the BoG for full disclosure is the latest pressure against the Akufo-Addo government’s seeming attempt to be obscurantist about the bond sale to FT.