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Opinions Tue, 11 Feb 2020

It's Samuel Mahama and so what?

Ghanaians woke up on Monday morning to news headline, that the agent of Airbus used in their business dealings with the Ghana Armed Forces, referred to as "Intermediary 5" in the UK court documents, is one Mr. Samuel Mahama of England.

The story then fed into speculations made by the NPP National Communication Officer, exactly a week ago, that the Ghanaian government official who was engaged by Airbus, and is described in the UK court documents as "Government Official 1" is former President John Dramani Mahama.

This therefore raises the question as to what wrong did Mr Samuel Adam Mahama do, as an Agent of Airbus who received the wages of his labour. It is for this reason that we need to set the records straight with the following five points and clear our minds.

1. Ghana Armed Forces were engaging Airbus long before NDC came to power in 2009. The deal fell through at a point in time during the President Kufuor era. So, the continuation of the engagement with Airbus was just logical, proper, prudent and just. Government is a continuum.

2. It is trite knowledge that Ghana Air Force was used to the Fokker range of jets, and so preferred the F-28 and its series, as a military transporter. There was therefore the need to engage Airbus to do some re-engineering work on their C-295 and also do some customisation to fit the desires of Ghana Air Force. These resulted in the final price of the sale which was agreed to and paid for.

3. The court documents state that 5% commission is allowed to be paid to the Agent that helped broker the deal between Airbus and the Government of Ghana. The point of disagreement here is that Airbus paid more than that agreed 5% commission, on the first tranche of supplies (two military jets) to Ghana, because it introduced another Agent to work for the first agent (after they found out that the company director is of Ghanaian heritage and have a brother in the government). So, the court agrees that 5% commission paid to an Agent / Broker/Lobbyist is legitimate (not a bribe) except when the payment is more than 5%, then the excess payment is questionable. OK

4. The OECD requirement (Ghana not a signatory) is that, a relation of a government official should not do business with the government, hence it be termed as bribe. So, by the mere fact that an Agent of Airbus has a brother in the Ghanaian government, that Agent cannot represent Airbus in a deal with the Ghanaian government. Doing so is bribery. The introduction of a second Agent to cover-up for the first Agent is also not right because it increased the 5% commission supposed to be paid. OK.

Are we by this OECD rule saying the same requirement that applies here in Ghana and under Ghanaian law??? So, the companies of Bumpty Akufo Addo, Ken Ofori Atta and the others are barred from doing business with the Akufo Addo government because they belong to brothers of the President???

That it is illegal for Databank to be an Agent for Government of Ghana, as they just did in the raising of US$3 billion loan for Ghana?? That Ken Ofori Atta's Databank must return their commission and fees????

5. Since engineers from the Ghana Armed Forces visited Airbus for inspection and okayed the purchase; since MPs from Ghana traveled to inspect the jets and also okayed the deal; on what grounds, was the NDC government expected NOT to go ahead with the contract with Airbus???

SUMMARY:

Read the court documents, and identify how they arrived at the decision, that the moneys paid to the Agent are not mere commission, but constitutes bribery because of the involvement of a relation.

Columnist: Benjamin Essuman