'Fixing The Country Movement' to petition Special Prosecutor over Airbus bribery scandal
Members of the pro-New Patriotic Party (NPP) group, ‘Fixing The Country Movement’, say they will petition the office of the Special Prosecutor (SP) to revisit the Airbus bribery scandal in order to deal with all individuals cited in the scandal, including former President John Dramani Mahama.
According to the group, former President Mahama played a key role in the Airbus scandal, hence he cannot be left unpunished.
At a press conference in Accra on Sunday afternoon, September 5, 2021, the Founder of the group, Mr Ernest Owusu Bempah, said the group will also petition all the embassies in the country about the issue, particularly the UK High Commission and the US Embassy.
Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer, is alleged to have paid bribes in Ghana when it sold the three military aircraft.
The aerospace multinational admitted hiring the brother of a top elected Ghanaian official as its consultant for the pitch to sell the aircraft to the country.
Again, Airbus confessed paying the said consultant through a third party when its Compliance Unit raised red flags about the close relationship between the consultant and the top elected official, who was a key decision-maker in the purchase of the military aircraft.
Coordinated investigations of Airbus by the US Department of Justice (DOJ), the Serious Fraud Office of the UK and the Parquet National Financier (PNF) of France culminated in the company being fined $3.9 billion for its corrupt practices in Ghana, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Taiwan within the same period.
The $3.9-billion fine is one of the largest in the world against a corporate body.
The US, the UK and France authorities imposed the fine in a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA).
Airbus was found guilty of failing to prevent its employees and others associated with the company from bribing officials during deals for the purchase of its aircraft and other products and also for breaking US export regulations with regard to its International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
Court documents published by the DOJ of the US and the SFO of the UK revealed how Airbus employed different tactics to bribe officials in many countries, including Ghana, in order to secure lucrative contracts.
In the case of Ghana, Airbus allegedly paid more than €3 million through a third party.
According to the DOJ’s facts, a high ranking elected official, which the document mentioned as “Individual 1” (who was in office from 2009 to 2016), made direct contact with the Airbus management about the purchase of the aircraft a few months after he took office.
“Individual 1 was influential in having the government of Ghana approve aircraft purchases and Individual 1 contacted Airbus senior executives during the government approval process. In 2011, during Individual 1’s time in office, the Ghanaian Parliament approved the purchase of C-295 aircraft,” the facts said.
As part of the sale of the aircraft to Ghana, the DOJ said, Airbus contracted the brother of “Individual 1”, who was named as “Consultant 4”, to act as the third-party agent of the company during the sale of the aircraft.
“Airbus purposefully sought to engage Consultant 4 due to his closeness to Individual 1, and the Airbus management included Consultant 4 in its communications with Individual 1. Airbus used Consultant 4 as a conduit for messages intended for Individual 1. Consultant 4 traded on his access to Individual 1,” the DOJ said.
Addressing the press conference, Mr Bempah said many former presidents around the world who involved themselves in corrupt practices whilst in office had been jailed, and that Ghana is no exception.
He mentioned South Africa’s Jocob Zuma as the latest on the list of former presidents to be jailed for corrupt activities, claiming that it believes that former President Mahama is the one code-named Government Official 1 in the Airbus scandal report.
He said the group was moved to initiate the petition process over recent comments by former President Mahama which sought to paint President Akufo-Addo and his government as corrupt.
For Mr Bempah, it is untenable for Mr Mahama, who he said, is the most corrupt president to have headed the country, to call President Akufo-Addo and his appointees as corrupt and also threatened that he would jail President Akufo-Addo’s appointees when he (Mr Mahama) comes back to power.
According to him, Mr Mahama during his recent “Thank you tour” after his 2020 electoral defeat had been lying to Ghanaians to believe that Akufo-Addo’s government is corrupt and that he (Mahama) is innocent.
He said when Mr Mahama was in power, there were several corrupt deals under his government, including the ‘Bus Branding’, ‘overpricing of roads and interchanges’ as well as construction of shoddy ‘cocoa roads’ which needed to be investigated.
Mr Bempah said Mr Mahama had lost the moral right to call President Akufo-Addo and his appointees as corrupt since he had soiled the image and reputation of the country at the international stage with his corrupt practices.
Fixing the Country members
The press conference was attended by leading members of the group, including the 2020 NPP parliamentary candidate for Kpone Katamanso constituency, Hopeson Adorye, NPP’s Bono regional Chairman, Kwame Baffoe (Abronye DC), Michael Kofi Twum Boafo, and Fadi Samih Dabbousi.