Finance Minister must resign over CHRAJ findings –Minority

The Minority in Parliament has urged the President, [Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo] to remove Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta from office for breach of the Public Financial Management Act, conflict of interest as cited in the CHRAJ report in relation to the us $2.25 billion bond issuance in 2017.

Addressing a press conference at Parliament House in Accra on Wednesday, Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, stated that based on the willful breaches of Ghanaian law, guidelines and processes in the bond issuance, the Finance Minister has made his continuous stay in office untenable and “we hereby demand his immediate resignation or dismissal and subsequent prosecution”. he said.

The Minority maintain that they will revoke Article 82(1) of the Constitution if the President fails to sack the Finance Minister over the CHRAJ findings.

Article 82(1) of the constitution stipulates: that Parliament may by a resolution supported by the votes of not less than two-third of all the members of Parliament, pass a vote of censure on a Minister of State.

According to the Minority, the CHRAJ report ruled that the Minister did not comply with section 56(1) of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921). Besides the provisions of the new Act, the CHRAJ position is justified by the fact that the Prospectus and processes used in 2016 should not have been used to support the new categories of bonds.

CHRAJ notes that: “The terms and conditions of all government borrowings shall be laid before Parliament and shall not come into operation unless the terms and conditions are approved by a resolution of Parliament in accordance with article 181 of the Constitution”.

On the issue of conflict of interest, the Minority indicates that they are surprised the Minister and his surrogates continue to portray complete exoneration by CHRAJ when the Commission found that : “the Finance Minister’s extensive interests in the securities market through shareholding in several companies that operate within the sector, some of whom were contacted by the Bookrunners on this particular bond, always  raises the potential for conflict of interests”.

Background

CHRAJ in December, 2017 cleared Ofori-Atta of the allegations of conflict of interest in the issuance of the bond, but found him guilty of some  infractions in the process.

This followed a petition to the Commission by Brogya Genfi, a known member of the opposition National Democratic Congress [NDC].

Among the 21-point findings in its decision, CHRAJ observed that Primary Dealers also doubled up as Bookrunners/Transaction advisors and that dual role gave them an undue advantage.

It also observed that the “Respondent is either a director, former director or shareholder, or beneficial owner, of several companies whose objects relate to the securities market sector. The companies include Databank and EGL. As such, Respondent’s interests in the growth and well-being of those companies, have the potential to conflict with the interests of the state in relation to the securities market such as the issuance of bonds.

It stated that “The Respondent has business partners and associates related to the securities industry where, according to the Respondent, he has been working for over thirty years. These business partners and associates include partners in Databank, Enterprise Group Limited, Ventures and Acquisitions Limited, as well as Keli Gadzekpo, Trevor Trefgarne and Angela Ofori Atta, also Respondent’s spouse.”

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