Investigate bribery allegations involving Asante Berko – GII

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The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) has appealed to the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to commence immediate probe into the recent bribery allegations involving the former Chief Executive Officer of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) boss, Asante Berko.

According to the GII, the incident following which the former TOR boss resigned, also involved some Members of Parliament and former government officials, should be thoroughly investigated and “if any official is found culpable, the appropriate sanctions be meted out without fear or favour.”

The antigraft body also said the government should, in the spirit of transparency and accountability, endeavor to “publish the findings of the investigations to assist public officials and politicians to recognise and desist from similar incidences of corruption.”

In a press statement issued by the GII, it noted that these allegations affect Ghana’s international image, governance, and the country’s national anti-corruption agenda. It, therefore, reminded the President that the government’s commitment to the fight against corruption are dire and the people of Ghana look up to his unalloyed leadership in this matter.

GII said: “it is incumbent on public officials, paid with public resources to demonstrate the highest standards of integrity in the performance of their duties.” It was against this backdrop that it appealed to the President, to act on this matter despite being currently “preoccupied with the fight against COVID-19.”

The anti-corruption body maintained that “if conscious effort is not made, there is the high tendency and risk of the government’s attention being shifted from addressing anti-corruption issues resulting in these allegations being swept under the carpet.”

Background

Mr. Berko is facing charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), of the United States of America for breaching the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, (FCPA). Asante Berko, until his appointment as the Managing Director of TOR, was a banker at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

According to reports from the US regulators and information from a civil suit, he made arrangements for some millions of dollars to be paid as bribes to some Ghanaian government officials to help a client win a power-plant contract in Ghana.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission said Asante Berko, a former employee at a subsidiary of the U.S. lender, arranged the bribes for a Turkish energy company to funnel the money to a Ghana-based intermediary, which then paid the local officials.

“Goldman Sachs fully cooperated with the SEC’s investigation and as stated by the SEC in its press release, the firm’s compliance personnel took appropriate steps to prevent the firm from participating in the transaction,” company spokeswoman Nicole Sharp said.

“Berko helped the Ghana-based intermediary pay more than US$200,000 in bribes to various other government officials, and personally paid more than US$60,000 to members of the Ghanaian parliament and other government officials, the SEC statement said, adding that Berko took deliberate measures to prevent his employer from detecting the bribery scheme,” a statement by the US authorities noted.

But Mr. Berko has denied all the charges in a press statement.

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