The lawyer who requested for more details on the controversial $2.25 billion domestic bond, Victor Adawudu has been taken aback by the Attorney General’s claim that such details are unavailable to her.
In an interview with Citi News, Mr. Adawudu said the Attorney General, Gloria Akuffo could at least have solicited information on the bond from the Ministry of Finance or the Bank of Ghana to respond his written request.
[contextly_sidebar id=”qaCOo8BMRbweUdjBzec5tSfZLLePEgKo”]The Attorney General, in a written response, acknowledged receipt of Mr. Adawudu’s letter but said: “the information being sought per your letter is not available to me and I am therefore unable to respond to the questions posed therein.”
But in Mr. Adawudu’s view, the Finance Ministry, which issued the bond in April 2017, is at the centre of this controversy and should have answers that the Attorney General can draw from.
“If the Attorney General, who is the government’s legal advisor, says she is not aware, they [Finance Ministry] should be aware. The Bank of Ghana should also be aware because it is a loan,” he contended.
The lawyer, however, said he did not write straight to the Bank of Ghana or the Finance Ministry because “this is a legal matter, it is a constitutional matter. That is why I am surprised the legal advisor to the government says that she cannot answer… the person who is in charge of the government machinery that gives legal opinion and advice is the right person who will answer.”
Mr. Adawudu again outlined his questions about the bond noting they were aimed at addressing previous concerns.
“If you look at the questions I have asked, there are a lot of question that stem from the process of how the money has been settled, which people settled the amount, whether it was in cedis or in foreign currency and in which account the money was settled. This is very detailed and specific information I am asking for.”
Conflict of interest in bond issue
The Minority first cried foul over the bond alleging conflict of interest on the part of the Attorney General and the Finance Ministry, Ken Ofori Atta.
The Minority in April said a non-executive director on the Board of Investment Firm, Franklin Templeton, which purchased 95 percent of the bond, is also the Chairman of the Enterprise Group, which has links to the Attorney-General and the Finance Minister.
The Minority proceeded to file a complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the United States of America in the hope that it would lead to investigations by the US regulatory body into the bond issuance and the involvement of Franklin Templeton, which is a US registered company.
The SEC will primarily be investigating the suspected conflict of interest and insider trading, which are violations of US law, by Trevor G. Trefgarne, who is a Director of Franklin Templeton and a Board Chairman of Enterprise Group – a company owned and founded by the Finance Minister of Ghana, a statement from the Minority explained.
The Minority had already called for a full-scale parliamentary probe into the bond issue, amidst the concerns over the perceived secrecy and conflict of interest in the bond issue.
CHRAJ steps in
The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) on May 5, 2017 requested the Minister of Finance to comment on whether or not he had contravened provisions of the 1992 Constitution in the public offer of the $2.25 billion bond in 10 days.
The request for the Minister’s comments followed a petition by the Ashanti Regional Youth Organiser of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Yaw Brogya Genfi, who urged the commission to investigate the $2.25 billion bond, whilst posing a series of questions.
In a response on May 21, 2017, the Finance Ministry requested for 15 extra working days to respond to CHRAJ’s queries on whether or not he contravened provisions of the 1992 Constitution in the public offer of the bond.
The Finance Ministry noted that in order to properly respond to the issues with supporting documentation, the extension by an additional 15 business days was required.
By: Delali Adogla-Bessa/Eugenia Tenkorang/citifmonline.com/Ghana