Finance Minister in court over CHRAJ’s judgement on asset declaration
The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, is challenging portions of the judgement delivered by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) which said he had not fully declared his assets.
Mr Ofori-Atta is praying the High Court to grant an order of prohibition directed at CHRAJ from carrying out investigations into a case of non-disclosure of all his assets and liabilities.
The CHRAJ, in a judgement dated December 22, 2017, dismissed a conflict of interest complaint made against Mr Ofori-Atta by Mr Yaw Brogya Genfi over the issuance of seven, 10 and 15-year bonds.
However, after its investigations of allegations made against the minister, CHRAJ gave wide-ranging directives in relation to the bond issuance processes to ensure transparency and clarity.
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In an application for judicial review, Mr Ofori-Atta is praying the High Court to declare that the purported findings contained in the December 22, 2017 CHRAJ decision claiming that he failed to disclose all his assets, as required by Article 286 of the 1992 Constitution, was a gross infringement on his rights and his right to a fair hearing, as enshrined in the Constitution.
That, the applicant noted, was particularly because the issue of assets declaration was not the subject matter in the complaint, no notice was served on him and also he was denied a fair hearing.
Mr Ofori-Atta is, accordingly, praying the court to hold that CHRAJ’s failure to give him a fair hearing was unlawful, arbitrary, capricious and beyond the jurisdiction of CHRAJ.
He is also seeking a declaration that the purported ruling of the CHRAJ was bad “on grounds of unreasonableness, to wit an illegality, irrationality and procedural impropriety”.
The applicant is further seeking for an order of certiorari to quash or set aside the purported finding of CHRAJ that the applicant failed to disclose all his assets, as required by Article 286 of the 1992 Constitution, especially when that was not the subject matter in the substantive case.
Mr Ofori-Atta is seeking the reliefs on the grounds of unfairness, capriciousness, bias, unlawfulness and a gross infringement of his fundamental human rights to administrative justice and fair hearing by the respondent in breaches of articles 23 and 296 of the 1992 Constitution.
The ground of unreasonableness, to wit illegality, irrationality and procedural impropriety, on the part of CHRAJ is also being pleaded as one of the grounds for the application for judicial review.
Mr Ofori-Atta is being represented by Mr Kwaku Asirifi, an Accra-based lawyer.
Affidavit in support
An affidavit in support of the application for judicial review deposed to by Mr Ofori-Atta said CHRAJ did not afford him or his lawyers the opportunity to respond to the allegation of non-disclosure of his assets.
“That I am advised by my counsel and verily believe same to be true that the purported finding by the respondent that I had failed to disclose my interest in some companies was thus arbitrary, in violation of time-honoured rules of natural justice and manifestly unfair and unlawful,” he deposed.
CHRAJ, in its response, stated that it did not make any “purported ruling”, as was being argued by the applicant, and that it discovered, after investigations, that it was reported as being part of the findings that the applicant did not disclose all of his interests and assets on the Assets Declaration Form deposited with the Auditor-General.
It further argued that in view of the fact that there was no record indicating that it (CHRAJ) stated in portions of the judgement that the applicant failed to disclose all his assets, as required by Article 286 of the 1992 Constitution, and for that reason the application had no basis and, therefore, ought to be dismissed.
The CHRAJ said its decision did not constitute miscarriage of justice because the issues on asset declaration did not form the basis of whether or not the applicant was liable for conflict of interest and that it served the purpose of justice to report the findings of the investigations conducted by the respondent.
According to the commission, the issue before it at all material times was the matter of conflict of interest.
“That the investigations carried out by the respondent was not only to verify whether or not the applicant owned shares in any company but whether or not there is a record available to the effect that the applicant disclosed his relational interest in the transaction,” it said.
It argued that there was no basis for an order prohibiting it from investigating any present or future complaints against applicant on matters relating to the declaration of assets and that no issue had been made out against Mr Ofori-Atta.
CHRAJ is being represented by Mr Cosmos Angpengnuo.