Minority calls on Finance Minister to resign over issuance of $2.25 billion bond

BY: Musah Yahya Jafaru

 

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The Minority in Parliament has called on the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, to either resign or be sacked by the President because a report by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has cited him for breaches of the law, guidelines and processes in the $2.25-billion bond issuance.

Speaking at a press conference in Accra on Wednesday, the Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said if the President failed to remove Mr Ofori-Atta within 14 working days from yesterday, the Minority in Parliament would invoke a motion of censorship in accordance with Article 82 of the 1992 Constitution "to remove him from office as soon as possible".

He demanded that Mr Ofori-Atta be subsequently prosecuted for breach of the country's law in the issuance of the bond.

"It is our contention that based on these wilful 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," he said.


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Read also: CHRAJ clears Finance Minister of Conflict of Interest allegations in bonds deals

CHRAJ findings

Mr Iddrisu said the CHRAJ report indicated that “the five-year, seven-year,10-year and 15-year bonds issued in March/April 2017 were domestic bonds (cedi-denominated) and opened for non-resident investors, but the statement issued by the Ministry of Finance on April 3, 2017 misled the public into believing that the bonds were dollar denominated”.

He said CHRAJ indicated that the Ministry of Finance, on realising that the statement it had issued on April 3, 2017 was inaccurate, removed it from its website, but at the time of this decision, it had not yet replaced it with the more accurate statement.

Besides, he said, it was clear from the report that the attempt to rush the second quarter calendar for bond issuance to cover for inept issuance failed miserably.

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He said CHRAJ also ruled that the minister did not comply with Section 56(1) of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921).

"Besides the provisions of the new act, the CHRAJ position is justified by the fact that the prospectus and processes used in 2016 should not have been used to support the new categories of bonds," he said.

On the issue of conflict of interest, the Minority Leader said the CHRAJ report indicated that “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 book runners on this particular bond, always raises the potential for conflict of interest”.

 

 

Read also: CHRAJ decision on Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta – Full document

He said according to the report, documents from the Registrar-General’s Department showed clearly that Mr Ofori-Atta was a shareholder in Databank Financial Services Limited, Databank Brokerage Limited and Databank Financial Holdings Limited.

However, he said, the minister failed to state in his asset declaration forms presented on March 12, 2017 to the Auditor-General that he had shares in the last three companies.

Vindication

Mr Iddrisu said it was the considered view of the Minority that the adverse findings contained in the CHRAJ report vindicated its position that the US$2.25-billion bond issuance was fraught with irregularities and did not comply with Ghanaian law.

He asked the government and its agencies (the Flagstaff House, the Bank of Ghana, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Public Services Commission (PSC), the Head of the Civil Service) to take steps to curtail or eliminate the grip of Enterprise and Databank Groups on government business.