….$2.25bn Bond Saga:
– Cite CHRAJ Report as enough grounds
The Minority Caucus in Parliament has made a direct demand on President Akufo-Addo to fire the finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta.
In addition to the dismissal, the Minority demands that he be prosecuted for his vandalism of Ghana’s banking rules in respect of the issuance of the $2.25billion bond in 2017.
The demand, it says, is on the basis of adverse findings by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in respect of that controversial bond issued in March last year.
A CHRAJ investigation into possible conflict of interest on the part of Mr. Ofori-Atta who sold 95% of the bond to Franklin Templeton, a US juggernaut in which Mr. Ofori-Atta’s business partner is a Board member, cleared him of conflict of interest charges.
However, the same investigation found him to have committed serious infractions and abused his office in the process, things that the Minority says are good enough grounds for him to be prosecuted.
At a press conference yesterday, the Minority served notice that it will invoke Article 82 of the 1992 Constitution to have Mr. Ofori-Atta censured if the President does not remove him within 14 days.
According to the Minority, Ken Ofori-Atta should have “bowed out honourably” for flouting rules and guidelines of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) as well as committing several infractions in the issuance of the bond which caused a major scandal in 2017.
CHRAJ had investigated the bond issuance following an invocation of its jurisdiction by both the Minority and member of the opposition National Democratic Congress, Yaw Brogya Gyenfi.
The main suspicion that Mr. Ofori-Atta had been in conflict of interest was subsequently cleared by CHRAJ.
However, the Minority points out that upon studying the report, it becomes clear that CHRAJ rightfully dangled question marks on the wholesomeness of the issuance of bond.
At yesterday’s press conference in parliament Minority Leader, Hon Haruna Iddrisu, stated that highlights of CHRAJ’s findings show that the issuance of the bond contradicted the BoG’s rules on the sale of bonds.
“It is our contention that based on these willful breaches of Ghanaian law, guidelines and processes in the bond issuance, the Finance Minister has made his continuous stay in office untenable and we hereby demand his immediate resignation or dismissal and subsequent prosecution,” the Minority demanded.
He said the report indicates that: “The issuance calendar for the first-quarter did not include the issuance of seven-year and 15-year bonds, the trading of which concluded on 31 March 2017, which is within the first-quarter period and not the second-quarter calendar.
“On receipt of the second-quarter issuance calendar at 12:31 PM on 30 March 2017, the Bank of Ghana made an announcement to the public on the re-opening of five-year and 10-year bonds with an indication that this must be submitted electronically through the auction model not later than 3PM on Thursday, March 30, 2017 and settlements will be on Monday, April 3, 2017.”
“Again, CHRAJ notes [that] this contradicts the Bank of Ghana’s own rules requiring the Bank of Ghana to announce periodically but not less than a week before auction, the amounts and specific details of the financial instruments available in the case the five-year, seven-year, 15-year bonds at the next auction and their maturity profiles”.
In the view of the Minority, the breach of the period of issue raises red flags which further corroborate their earlier suspicion of conflict of interest on the part of the minister.
Hon. Iddrisu added that CHRAJ further notes in its report that: “In terms of the seven-year and 15-year bond, the Bank of Ghana gave only a one-day notice to the market on the availability of the seven-year and 15-year bonds prior to the commencement of trading, instead of the two weeks required for new products under the Bank of Ghana guidelines”.So where is the transparency?” the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale South questioned.
He also added that the CHRAJ findings indict the Finance Minister of breaching aspects of the asset declaration law as well as deceit of public officers after he willfully concealed his interests/assets in several financial institutions.
The Minority demanded the resignation of the Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta on ground that CHRAJ’s declaration that several statutory regulations governing issuance of bonds were breached in the issuance of the $2.25 billion bond was enough.
On the issue of conflict of interest, the Minority said, they are surprised that the Minister and propagandists of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) continue to portray complete exoneration by CHRAJ when the Commission indicted the Minister.
Portion of the CHRAJ Report reads,“the Finance Minister’s extensive interests in the securities market through shareholding in several companies that operate within the sector, some of whom were contacted by the Bookrunners on this particular bond, always raises the potential for conflict of interests.”
The Ministry of Finance last year announced the successful issuance of 15 and 7 years bonds with the coupon rate of 19.5% raising a total of $1.13billion.
It also stated that it raised the Cedi equivalent of $1.12billion in five and 10 years bonds via a tap in arrangement. This means the total amount raised through the bonds as at 3rd April 2017 was $2.25billion.
On April 25, 2017, a citizen, Yaw Brogya Genfi petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate the bond transaction because he suspects that the Finance Minister was caught up in conflict of interest.
The Commission after its investigations gave wide-ranging directives in relation to bond issuance in order to ensure transparency and clarity.
Despite clearing the Finance Minister on the allegations of conflict of interest in the issuance of the bond, the Commission noted that several statutory regulations governing issuance of bonds were breached as well a piece of disclosure the Minority believes is enough to warrant the resignation of the Finance Minister.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba