The stink of suspicion that has been wafting from the Agyapa Minerals Royalties Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) is only thickening as more questions blossom around the convoluted business set up by Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta.
The latest pointed questions are coming from Dr. Francis Ato Conduah, a renowned lawyer and consultant known to be sympathetic to the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP). In a series of posts on his social media wall, he admits that that he is finding it difficult to wrap his head around the arrangement Mr. Ofori-Atta has devised.
“Fellow Ghanaians, I have gone through a restless night and day studying the Agreement on our Minerals Income Investment Fund, between GoG and the Royalties Company,” Dr. Conduah wrote on his Facebook.
Early in the write up, Dr. Conduah shoots the burning question that goes to the heart of the matter: “Why did we choose an SPV instead of using the standard procedure required for all public procurement activities under our Public Procurement Act?”
After the set up of the Mineral Income Investment Fund (MIIF) Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta had initiated the setting up of Agyapa/Asaase Mineral Royalties Limited as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), leveraging the governing New Patriotic Party’s numerical strength in Parliament to have it approved.
Agyapa is essentially being passed off as a spawn of the MIIF which was created by an Act of Parliament In 2018 to manage the equity interests of the country in mining companies, and receive mineral royalties and other related income due the country from mining operations. To Pass the Agyapa deal, the MIIF’s Act was tweaked under very suspicious circumstances.
In this Agyapa Royalties deal, what the government is trying to do is to use the mineral royalties that come from the country’s mining sector as collateral to raise US$1billion on the London Stock Exchange.
Agyapa has been set up as an SPV which is partly registered in Jersey, a popular tax haven often used by crooks and criminal bosses around the world.
Dr. Ato Conduah is asking why the Finance Minister Ofori-Atta chose the convoluted setup when there was the more familiar choice of raising money through the traditional procedure agreeable to the Public Procurement Act.
The Management Consultant questions again, “What standard of fund management knowledge and expertise was applied in choosing an SPV for sovereign funds, especially when choosing an off-shore company that does not possess any track record or previous experience in the subject matter?”
Even though the Fund Managers of Agyapa Royalties have not been unveiled, their lawyers, who reportedly have already clinched Ghc10million for the drafting, review and amendments to the Agyapa Gate agreement are known. Bentsi-Entchil, Lesta & and Africa Legal Services. Are owned by Ace Ankomah, a government insider, and President Akufo-Addo’s cousin and right-hand-man Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, respectively.
Dr. Conduah wonders why the selection of the lawyers did not go through the standard procedures laid down by the Public Procurement Act.
Also, what has kept the whole Agyapa/Asaase deal on a shady footing is that the directors of the company, who will operate from the UK tax haven, cannot be removed even by future governments.
The convoluted nature of the setup has led to the Minority, who are members of Parliament, asking to know who the true owners of Agyapa are.
Even former President Mahama has asked to be educated on the head-spinning set up. According to Mr. Mahama, Jersey, the place where Agyapa has been registered in the UK is known to him as a favorite hangout for shady investors and so he also wants to know the identity of the owners behind Agyapa.
It is believed that Agyapa Royalties, whose original name was Asaase Royalties, is a front for Gabby Asare Otchere Darko, Ken Ofori-Atta and some others at the Presidency.
If the suspicion is true the henchmen will end up having control over Ghana’s mineral royalties even when the NPP leaves power because directors of the SPV cannot be changed.
Ken Ofori-Atta and Gabby Asare Otchere Darko are essentially the financial engineers behind the collateralization of Ghana’s Mineral royalties. The country produces some Us$200million annually from minerals every year.
Mr. Otchere Darko has even announced he is suing the NDC MP for Bia East, Richard Acheampong, for defamation over what he says are claims by the MP that he is part owner of Agyapa Royalties.
In an elaborate write-up, Gabby tried to extricate his role from the stinking deal, arguing that the Finance Ministry chose to register Agyapa in Jersey because the place is tax free and home to many other international companies which list on the LSE, consequently disputing former President Mahama’s allegation that Jersey is a favorite place for corrupt corporates.
For many readers of Gabby’s write-up published on his Facebook on Thursday August 20, 2020, it came across as quite striking because even though he claimed he was unconnected to Agyapa, he had so much inside knowledge of what Agyapa business plan and model being the transaction advisor.