Economist and former Director-General of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Dr Nii Moi Thompson has compared the scandalous Agyapa/Asaase Royalties deal being pushed by the Akufo Addo government to a heroin addict who sells his wife’s jewellery to get a hit.
“Think of the heroin addict who sells his car and fridge and microwave and other assets to support his habit. And once he has none left, he secretly begins selling his wife’s jewellery. And then think of Agyapa,” Dr. Nii Moi-Thompson tweeted.
According to him, the deal with comes with extremely favourable concessions to the tax haven-registered Agyapa Royalties is an attempt by politically exposed persons within the Akufo Addo administration to satisfy their cravings for grabbing public funds for person use.
The Agyapa deal has revealed curious conditions that experts have warned put Ghana’s mining royalties at risk.
On Wednesday, July 22, 2020, the Asaase/Agyapa Royalties scandal broke, revealing an elaborate scheme that will force Ghana to cede its mining royalties to a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) Agyapa Royalties which is registered in a tax haven with it private shareholders unknown.
The scheme involved amending portions of Ghana’s Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF) to allow the Ghana Mineral Income Investment Fund (MIIF) to channel over 75% or some US$ 200 million of Ghana’s mining royalties through an opaque company (Agyapa Royalties Limited) registered in a notorious tax haven called Jersey on the British Virgin Islands.
Analysts who have followed the paper trail of the deal have concluded that it is an elaborate conspiracy by the President and his close family and friends to personally hijack the mineral royalties of Ghana by choosing to route the funds through a tax haven with an unenviable reputation as a place where corrupt politicians and global companies hide their funds.
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 and a member of his kitchen cabinet.
The Finance Minister, who is also a close family relations of President Akufo Addo is said to be also neck-deep in the Agyapa scandal.
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 in the scheme.