Integrity crisis is being manufactured over $2.25bn bond – Ken Ofori-Atta
Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta says the Minority’s criticism of government’s $2.25 billion local bonds issued in April manufactured to create non-existent integrity crises.
Addressing Parliament Wednesday, the Minister said the opposition MPs' attempt to raise issues of integrity into the domestic bond betrays a sinister motive.
“It may be tempting to say that the apparent attempt to manufacture some form of integrity deficit is generally borne out of a lack of understanding of the actual process on the part of the manufacturers,” he said.
Mr Ofori-Atta said he was surprised some MPs with impeccable CVs will be leading the claims.
The Finance Minister made the remark when he addressed Parliament following a half-hour motion filed by Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu over the contentious $2.25 billion local bond issued.
The Minority in Parliament has said the manner in which the bond was issued smacks of an attempt to cook it for only cronies of the Finance Minister.
The NDC MPs said they are convinced there is a 'relational interest' between the Finance Minister and one of the investment companies that bought the bond – Franklyn Templeton Investment.
They said one Trevor G. Trefgarne who was on the Board of the US investment firm may have influenced the direction of the bond issuance because of his connection with Mr Ofori-Atta. Mr Trefgarne also doubles as the Board Chairman of the Enterprise Group where Mr Ofori-Atta was also a director.
The Minority has petitioned the US Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) to investigate the issue.
Deputy Minority leader, James Avedzi has said their petition to the US body is in the interest of Ghana.
In a bid to press for more answers, Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu moved for a half-hour motion to allow the Finance Minister to present a statement on the bond. The motion was seconded by the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.
But the Finance Minister maintained nothing untoward was done in the issuance of the bond as has been speculated by the Minority.
"The bond in question complied in every material detail to the tenets of the rules and regulations governing securities," he said, adding the April domestic bond was issued in cedis as directed by the law.
Mr Ofori-Atta also said the joint book runners - Barclays, Stanbic and SAS - appointed to issue the bond were the same companies used by the previous administration.
He noted, “All prospective bidders bid through their primary dealers, who in turn submitted the investor’s bids through the Central Securities Depository platform."
"The joint transaction advisers then collate these bids to build up a book on which the bonds are issued," he said, adding "At no time during the book building process did the Ministry of Finance negotiate with any investor in any way, and it will indeed be quite difficult to manipulate the process when the three financial institutions are governed strictly by the Bank of Ghana’s rules and regulations.”