Whatsup News is uncovering a disturbing link between President Akufo Addo and his two close cousins as the initiators and the possible brains that has triggered the scandal around the Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF)that is seeking to give over 75% of Ghana’s mineral royalties to an opaque private company Agyapa/Asaase Royalties registered in a notorious tax haven on the British Virgin Islands.
Already, the Akufo Addo administration has been fingered to have systematically hatched the plot to hijack Ghana’s mineral royalties of almost US$200 million annually amidst involvement of obscure individuals who have taken the suspicious route of channelling public funds through Jersey, a tax haven used by corrupt politicians and global companies.
Whatsup News can report that President Akufo chaired the cabinet meetings that initiated the Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF) ACT, 2018 (ACT 978). Consequently, the legislation birthed a special Fund headed by George Mireku Duker who was directly appointed by President Akufo Addo.
In turn, the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) idea to ship the country’s mining royalties through the notorious tax haven was reportedly hatched by the President’s cousin and Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta.
Incidentally, one of the frontline transaction advisors to the questionable SPV is Africa Legal Services, a law firm owned by Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, who is also a direct cousin to President Akufo Addo.
There is no known legal procurement process used to select the law firm of Mr. Otchere-Darko who is a politically exposed individual. His firm has been reportedly paid some GHC 10 million for its questionable role played in the scheme.
According to investigations by Whatsup News, Asaase/Agyapa Royalties has a relationship with a company called the Pan African Capital Group. Interestingly, several financial tools from the Databank Group links back to Pan African Capital Group.
Databank Group is a company founded and owned by Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta and his associates.
Further probe by Whatsup News at the Registrar-General’s Department indicates that the supposed subsidiary of Agyapa/Asaase Royalties called ARG Royalties Limited had its first CEO and director named as Yaw Baah.
Incidentally, Mr. Yaw Baah, a lawyer who lived in the UK, is a Senior Research Fellow at the Danquah Institute (DI) founded by Gabby Asare-Otchere Darko. He also worked closely in the research department of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP)’s 2016 campaign.
Again, checks reveal that another director of ARG Royalties is called Felicia Ashley. She was the Vice President and Head of Human Capital and Administration at Ken Ofori-Atta’s Databank. Ms Ashley was later moved to the Finance Ministry headed by Mr. Ofori-Atta to be the Head of General Administration of the Ministry of Finance.
This closely-knit triangle linked to the Presidency and Finance Minister Ofori-Atta has reinforced the suspicion that the Akufo Addo administration may have deliberately plotted the grand scheme to capture the country’s revenues from the mining industry.
On Wednesday, July 22, 2020, the Parliamentary Finance Committee and the Majority parliamentarians on the side of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) secretly pushed through contentious amendments to the MIIF Act to basically incapacitate the Ghanaian government from being able to probe the dealings of Agyapa/Asaase Royalties with the countries mining royalties it receives.
The amendments inspired by the Finance Minister and the group of law firms linked to Mr. Otchere-Darko and politically exposed lawyer Ace Ankomah of Ace Ankomah’s Bentsi-Entchil, Lesta & Ankomah ensured that Agyapa/Asaase Royalties is not subject to Ghana’s Public Financial Management Act that checks the tendency of public officials and their assigns from misapplying public funds.
Also, the company will not be subject to Ghana’s tax laws. Additionally, the amendments to the MIIF Act ensured that Ghana waived its sovereign immunity, making it vulnerable to possible lawsuits from the private owners of Agyapa/Asaase.
In a statement supposedly emanating from MIIF, it insists that it expressly initiated the registration of Agyapa/Asaase at the tax haven and that the Government of Ghana (GoG ) will own 51% interest in the company while fund managers have 49% interest, according to the Agreement.
However, a renowned Ghanaian lawyer Dr. Ato Conduah has pointed out tell-tale signs of a state capture of Ghana’s mining revenues.
“…From the This fund management arrangement is carefully routed through a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) – created exclusively to accommodate current FM to the exclusion of any other company, without recourse to our Public Procurement Act,” Dr. Conduah wrote on his social media page.
“The details of this Agreement creates the impression that, someone, has created a novel way of hedging our minerals royalties from tax-paying mining and minerals companies in Ghana, against the raising of the $1billion from the LSE.”
He questioned why the Ministry of Finance of Ghana will entrust the country’s sovereign wealth into the hands of an off-shore company with absolutely no track record apart from its close links to the Presidency and the Finance Minister.
“Why did we choose an SPV instead of using the standard procedure required for all public procurement activities under our Public Procurement Act? Why did the selection of law firms not go through the requirements of the Procurement Act, and the appointment of fund managers go through an SPV?” Dr. Conduah asked.
“Is it true that our smart MoF did not realise the apparent conflict of interest in selecting the law firm of a politically exposed person who has an interest in the Royalties Company?”
Meanwhile, the scandal is unravelling rapidly by the day.