General News of Wed, 7 Jun 201713
Ken Ofori-Atta answered his own questions on $2.25bn bond submission – Minority
The Minority in Parliament has expressed dissatisfaction with Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta's response to issues surrounding the $2.25 billion domestic bond.
The NDC MPs said the Minister cherry-picked the information that helped to put him in good light.
Deputy Minority leader, James Klutsey Avedzi told Evans Mensah on Joy FM’s Top Story Wednesday, the Finance Minister did not address the major concerns of MPs.
“We wanted full documentation on the participants and currency…but the Minister chose to provide his own questions,” he said.
The Finance Minister appeared before Parliament to present a statement over the contentious $2.25 billion local bond issue following a half-hour motion filed by the Minority last week. The motion was supported by the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu.
The Minority has said the manner in which the bond was issued on April 3, 2017 smacked of an attempt to manipulate it for 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 went ahead to petition the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate the matter. Clad in blue suit with a red tie Wednesday before Parliament, the Finance Minister maintained nothing untoward was done in the issuance of the bond.
"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 - government chose to issue the bond were the same people used by the previous administration. The book runners are financial institutions that announce and publish every impending bond issue to the market by providing details about the week of issue and price guidance.
But the Minority said the Finance Minister's response to the many outstanding issues regarding the bond was unsatisfactory. "The Minister set his own questions," Mr Avedzi said.
He said the Minister mentioned the banks that were chosen to run the book but failed to name the participants of the bond. Mr Ofori-Atta had explained the ethics of the international financial market do not permit him to list the participants, but Mr Avedzi disagreed, saying Ghana is a sovereign country.
"These are not bonds bought by individuals but rather bought by investment companies," he said, adding the Minority is interested in knowing the companies that participated in the bond.
Asked by Evans Mensah whether the previous government published the names of institutions that participated in similar bonds, Mr Avedzi said, the then Finance Minister was not asked to.
Deputy Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said the concerns of the Minority were motivated by "mischief" and not from a genuine desire to know how the bond was issued.
He said when the half hour motion as captured in Standing Order 49 was filed by the Minority, the NPP MPs supported it but they have realised the NDC MPs are only interested in throwing allegations around. "It is now becoming clear that the Minority has the desire to create a new set of issues."