General News of Wed, 11 Jul 20184
A-G can represent Ofori-Atta in asset declaration case - Supreme Court rules
The Supreme Court has ruled that the Attorney-General's Department can represent Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, in a case seeking to have sanctions imposed on him for failing to declare all his assets before taking office.
Sole Judge, Justice Pwamang, held that any contrary opinion that the Attorney-General cannot represent a public officer must be appropriately filed to challenge the relevant constitutional provision.
The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) had earlier ruled that the Finance Minister did not breach Ghana's laws on conflict of interest despite failing to declare all his assets before taking office.
CHRAJ in its ruling on a case brought by Ashanti Regional Youth Organiser of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Yaw Brogya Genfi, observed that Mr. Ofori-Atta failed to declare his shareholding interest in Databank Brokerage Limited and Databank Financial Holdings Limited before taking office.
Mr Genfi said in his petition that Mr Ofori -Atta “has attempted to promote a private or personal interest for himself or for some family members and business associates, and the promotion of the private interest has resulted in, or was intended to result in, or appears to have resulted in, or has the potential to result in an interference with the objective exercise of his duties and an improper benefit or an advantage by virtue of his position.”
CHRAJ ruled that these companies did not even participate in the sale of the bond, rendering claims that the bond was issued to favour family and friends of the Minister false.
The Dynamic Youth Organisation of Ghana (DYMOG), a pressure group, then dragged the Minister to the apex court asking that CHRAJ should be compelled to impose sanctions on the minister for failing to declare all his assets.
The Attorney-General last month asked that the court allows an amendment of the statement of case in opposition to the case filed against Mr. Ofori-Atta.
This was opposed by lawyers of the group saying it will delay the case.
Lawyers for CHRAJ, meanwhile, objected to application raising further questions on whether the Attorney-General can represent the minister since the issue bothered on the declaration of assets which is a private matter.
Chief State Attorney Sylvester Williams responded that what led to the current case had to do with the issuance of bonds which was a public function performed by the Finance Minister.
Justice Gabriel Pwamang who is sitting as a sole Judge agreed with this view in his ruling.
He proceeded to hand the Attorney-General seven days to file the amended statement of case.