The nominee Minister of State at the Finance Ministry, Charles Adu Boahen, has admitted that it was unconscionable for his private company and that of owned by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, were the main transaction advisors earning fees and commissions from bond issues they commit Ghana into.
The two have become notorious for using decoys to hide their footprints in dubious transactions. The recently resigned Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu and countless civil society organisations have indicted them for dubiously cooking the Agyapa Royalties deal, by similarly using their influence.
During his vetting today at the Parliamentary Vetting Committee, Adu Boahen was questioned by Alhasaan Suhuyini if he thought it was a matter of “good conscience” for his private company to be benefiting directly from debts that he and the Finance Minister commits the country to.
“There is also a matter of good conscience…given that your company; the Minister’s were shortlisted as bond specialists, do you find it not to be against good conscience?” Suhuyini asked, to which Adu Boahene answered: “My short answer is no.”
It is unclear what response Adu Boahene was trying to convey from the negative question posed by Suhuyini, but in English grammatical rules, his equally negative response means an affirmation that he found his private company’s preferential treatment under his ministry was unconscionable.
Whatsup News has seen a list of authorised bond market specialists (BMSs) for Ghana as published by the Bank of Ghana (BOG) and incidentally, his company Blackstar Brokerage Limited and Databank Financial Services owned by Ken Ofori-Atta are the only investment advisory firms for the multi-billion-dollar bonds that Ghana intends to float this year and the next couple of years.
The only other investment brokerage firm on the list of BMSs is Insecurities.
The Akufo Addo administration is the government that had floated more Eurobonds than all other governments combined since independence. It has so far floated US$17 billion in five years, meanwhile, all other governments collectively floated less than US$ 7 billion.
In all these transactions, Ken Ofori-Atta’s Databank Financial Services have been a major transaction advisor.
Blackstar and Databank are expected to cream up to US$ 210 million in total fees and commissions from the bond transaction that the government had contracted.
The plot thickens when it became apparent that letters were sent to other MMSs who have often been part of the bond transaction for Ghana, forcing them out.
They used the UK law firm, White & Case which, sometime in March 2021, James Clark, an executive of White and Case LLP issued confetti of letters to these other BMSs that he is the “bearer of bad news” to inform them to pack out of the government bond transactions with immediate effect.
In the transaction agreement signed between the government of Ghana and these other private BMSs in 2019, they can only terminate their involvement as transaction advisors for the government only after a 30-day notice of termination of the relationship by the private brokers (dealers).
However, White & Case, which is reportedly under the tutelage of Ken Ofori-Atta and Adu Boahen, wrote to the companies to waive the 30-day grace period.
It must be noted that White & Case is the same law firm used by Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta in the fraudulent Agyapa Royalties deal that was torpedoed after a damning corruption assessment by former Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu revealed that Ken Ofori-Atta had used a South African company, Imara Corporate Finance to front for Databank Financial Services to appoint White & Case LLP as the legal advisor to the dubious Agyapa deal.
It is the same White & Case being use once more in a questionable move that is ensuring that the private companies of the Finance Minister and that of his former Deputy are the major players to benefit in transaction fees anytime Ghana secures more debts from the international money market.
On May 5, 2021, Whatsup News wrote an email to White & Case’s James Clark to find out the reasons why they are kicking out other dealers and retaining companies owned by the Finance Minister and his deputy.
However, James Clark refused to respond to our inquiry.
In the letter sent to some of the dealers, James Clark wrote a template for them to tender as their own and as their intent to terminate their deal to act as dealers for the government of Ghana.
The template letter reads in part: “Pursuant to Clause 11 of the Programme Agreement relating to the Programme of the Republic of Ghana dated 18 March 2019 (the “Programme Agreement”), we hereby give you notice of termination as Dealer under the Programme Agreement and that your appointments as such are hereby terminated.”
It reads further: “We acknowledge that, pursuant to Clause 11 of the Dealer Agreement, you are entitled to not less than 30 days written notice before such termination shall be effective and, accordingly, we respectfully request that you waive this requirement of such notice period so that the termination of your appointment as Dealer under the Programme Agreement shall be effective immediately as of the date of this letter.”
Isaac Adongo, the Member of Parliament for Bolga Central, has taken the insider trading up and has called out the Finance Minister and his ally Charles Boahen out for their conflict of interest.
“The duo, Ken Ofori Atta and Charles Adu Boahen have thus literally awarded to themselves through their companies the lucrative contracts that involve managing Government’s borrowing program with an estimated Ghc60 billion a year gross financing. The fees to be shared by the transaction advisors of the government borrowing program, including Ken Ofori Atta and Charles Adu Boahen’s companies, is estimated at Ghc210 million a year,”
Adongo reiterates his concerns that the conflict of interest allows Ken Ofori-Atta to instigate State borrowing just so that his company, can keep on creaming off commissions from transaction services provided for such borrowings.
“If you ever wondered why Ghana’s public debt has since 2017 been growing at an unexplained geometric sequence, the reasons are here: Those in charge of the borrowing, stand to personally profit from the borrowing through the reward in fees to their companies who serve as their transportation advisors,” Adongo wrote in a scathing statement he released last week.