Opinions Tue, 12 Apr 2016
Kufuor’s Panama Papers Are The Bible’s Missing Pages Of Ghana’s Political CorruptionINTRODUCTION
THE PANAMA PAPERS EXPOSES KUFUOR’S HYPOCRISY
“Eldest son of former president John Agyekum Kufuor has been cited in the leaked document of one of the world’s major offshore secret companies, Mossack Fonseca.
“The document says after the former President was sworn into office in early 2001, Mr. John Addo Kufuor appointed Mossack Fonseca to manage The Excel 2000 Trust—his offshore account.
“It revealed later that year, Mr. Addo Kufuor controlled a bank account in Panama—a country in North America—worth $75, 000.
“The document disclosed further that Theresa Kufuor, his mother, also benefited from the account operated by John Agyekum Kufuor.
“An employee of Mossack Fonseca’s compliance office in the British Virgin Islands suggested Mr. Kufuor should be cleared out of the client list of the company because of what he described as ‘prevalence of corruption surrounding’ him, the leaked document has revealed.
“However, Mossack Fonseca refused to comply with the suggestion of the employee but rather continued to do business with him.
“Mr. Kufuor requested for the trust to be closed in the year 2012, the document says adding he is also involved in other companies such as BVI companies Fordiant Ltd and Stamford International Investments Group Limited—companies said to be registered when the former President was in office…”
WHAT AND WHERE IS THE BEEF?
$75,000. Only $75,000? And where is the conclusive evidence to indict ex-President John Kufuor’s for the charge of malfeasance in this eye-opening documentary revelation?
It turns that both the original Panama Papers and the web portal from which we culled our summary introduction do not overtly answer this question.
The subtle avoidance of this very question does necessarily negate any potential for underhanded official misconduct on the part of the Kufuor family.
More so, and for equal measure, it is not the amount or size of corruption money per se that bothers us. It is however the serious questions of criminal intent and the culture of impunity that, for all intents and purposes, capture our imagination and sense of social and restorative justice.
Again, this is not to deny the qualitative difference the amount, quantum or size of corruption money can make in the lives of ordinary citizens. The irony is that the quantum of corruption money actually counts in strategically directing the political economy of development priorities.
Paragraph 5, however, does suggest that this revelation could only be the tip of the iceberg, perhaps a needle in a haystack, and perhaps again, an excellent assignment for the all-knowing Kweku Baako, Jr., investigative journalist Ana Aremeyaw Anas, and pimp-looking pedantic Gabby Otchere.
As well, this breaking story may as well be the Big Bang Theory of a larger pointillistic picture of political corruption insidiously executed in the Fourth Republic. This salient fact still remains to be seen and forensically proven for all it is worth. It is just a matter of time and creativity.
At least we all know how corrupt ex-President Kufuor and his government were, with the latter probably constituting one of the most corrupt institutions in Ghana’s entire political history.
Kufuor could as well be described as the “Godmother of Political Corruption in Ghana.” No wonder the Mo Ibrahim Foundation did not see fit to honor him with its prestigious award, “The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.”
Clement Apaak’s October 27, 2009 Ghanaweb article “Massive Corruption Made Ex-President Kufuor Unfit For Mo Ibrahim Award” does a very good job of addressing this question. Then Kwaku Adu’s article “Kufour Dares Us, We Respond” in which he indicts Kufuor and his government:
“While speaking on Asempa FM’s ‘Ekosii Sen’ political programme in Accra at the end of last week former President John Kofi Diawuo Agyekum Kufuor denied sharing properties under the affordable housing scheme his government built among his cronies. While at it, he dared his critics to publish the list for Ghanaians to ascertain the truth. “I know we did nothing wrong and I challenge our people on the other side to publish the list of beneficiaries for the whole world to see” he stated.
“Today, we are calling the bluff of former President Kofi Diawuo Kufuor. We publish below, the list of beneficiaries. The offer letters were signed by Hon. Abubakar Saddique Boniface on or around 18th December 2008, when the NPP knew that they were about to lose the second round of the Presidential Elections. We have copies of the letters with the signature of the then NPP Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing. If they dare us, we will publish them…..”
In fact, a partial tabular list accompanying Adu’s article shows one-hundred-and-thirteen persons with political connections to Kufuor and the NPP benefiting from this daylight thievery and robbery. Adu concludes thusly:
“Out of 113 allocations, 64 of them were allocated to the children and people working for ex-President Kufuor. 18 were allocated to persons under Aliu Mahama. The remainder were for NPP Ministers and their relatives, party people and friends.
“Next time Ex-President Kufuor opens his mouth to deny that there was corruption under his administration, he should be careful about daring people.”
This is a politician who unabashedly remarked that corruption started in the days of Adam and Eve, thus refusing to make the core issues of political corruption and its antithetical cognates, accountability and probity, part of the moral philosophy of his government because he feared exposing every single act of public corruption will bring down his government.
What is more, American-based Ghanaian Prof. Tetteh A. Kofi’s paper “The Elites and Underdevelopment in Africa: The Case of Ghana” also does an excellent job of treating the difficult question of elite corruption in postcolonial Ghana, particularly in the wake of the CIA-inspired coup that toppled the progressive government of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
Notwithstanding all these, we may have to point out again, we do not intend in any way to excuse political corruption, real and perceived, under the Mahama administration.
But we do also know that, like other high-profile cases with immense moral and political implications for national security that have suddenly gone cold and lifeless after protracted dramatic comedy of political equalization between the major leaders of Ghana’s duopoly, this one too is more than likely to end up hopelessly in a fix of duopolistic political football in the days to come, with no teachable precedent following therefrom.
And it will definitely fizzle out just as it has already begun.
For instance, Attorney Ace Ankomah’s recent exercise in legal acrobatics and technical jargon, and advertisement of his educational biography in the area of tax law, purported to demonstrate some expertise in tax evasion and tax avoidance strategies and tactics do not effectively succeed in subtly explaining away the uncomfortable connections between the Panama Papers and the Kufuor presidency.
And far from it being a frivolous matter, this serious revelation calls for forensic accountants from the National Bureau of Investigations (BNI), the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), the Attorney General’s Department (AGD), the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), the Ghana Audit Service (GAS), and the Finance Committee and the Public Accounts Committee to dig into this matter further.
Of course, some of these bureaucracies may not have a direct jurisdiction in this matter per se, but the spate of scandals involving money laundering, organized crime, political corruption, bribery, and illicit narcotic drug dealing that rocked the Kufuor presidency may require a well-coordinated forensic investigational efforts to unravel additional layers of insights into possible official misconduct of the Kufuor family in the wake of the Panama Papers revelations.
Already the Panama Papers have caused the downfall of Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, Prime Minister of Iceland, and forced British Prime Minister David Cameron and Argentine President Maurice Macri, to mention but two, to unravel themselves in their self-created webs of diplomatic gaffes and deceits pertaining to the indicting revelations of the recently released Panama Papers.
Sadly, and regrettably, the nonchalant nature of the Ghanaian and partisan politics will likely not produce similar outcomes. In Ghana accountability, probity and transparency are merely normative Orwellian constructs, more specifically with serious implications for the political economy of doublespeak and doublethink. We remain perpetually at the crossroads of inaction.
Finally, let us just add that this kind of Orwellian constructs of Machiavellian deception lack the philosophic and moral clarity and ideological heaviness of President Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope.”
TELLING THE AFRICAN STORY
President Kufuor and his government promoted local Ghanaian products including African (Ghanaian batik), yet he wore foreign- or Western-made tailored suits for six straight days in a week and African batik the only remaining day. Then President Mahama and Ekow Spio-Garbrah came aboard and also began promoting locally made products while, regrettably, the Ghanaian parliament, a non-functioning institution, was importing furniture from China.
A hypocritical country with a thieving cabal of hypocritical technocrats and career and novice politicians…and double standards…
Ghana, that Orwellian Banana Republic only known for its kleptomaniacal schadenfreude politics or its duopolistic politics of insults and acrimony and hatred and illegal judgment debts, is called a democracy and shamelessly described as a “middle income” when, actually, it cannot even manufacture toothpicks!
A country where the private sector and the state collude to destroy local innovation and creativity…where the private sector imports cheap building materials, counterfeit medicines, bootleg alcoholic beverages into the country…where the state—together with players in the private sector—is increasingly involved in cost padding, illegal judgment debts, in the commission of heinous political crimes against the state itself…where cheap and bootleg materials are easily imported into the country because quality assurance institutions in the country are sleeping…And oh, sadly if not regrettably, the private sector gets the upper hand…
Our politicians are quick to devalue and dominate our local currency in foreign currencies, yet are the ones who will rush to deposit stolen national booties in foreign or offshore accounts.
The Panama Papers have made this abundantly clear in the Kufuor case, particularly. We do all these wrongs to ourselves and then take umbrage at the Western world when its racist media take on the political depravity of our leaders.
These negative happenings across Africa are all the West needs to reinforce the purported biological and cultural inferiority of the black race, whatever that is.
African kleptocrats from Angola’s José Eduardo Dos Santos, Zaire’s Mobuto Sese Seko, Nigeria’s Sani Abacha and Ibrahim Babangida, the latter of whom Wole Soyinka and Nigerians in general referred to as “Maradona” for his political dexterity and devious Machiavellianism,…to Ivory Coast’s Felix Houphouët-Boigny…
African kleptocrats from the Republic of the Congo’s Denis Sassou Nguesso, Togo’s Gnassingbé Eyadema, Gabon’s Omar Bongo, Equatorial Guinea’s Teodore Obiang Nguema, Central African Republic’s Jean-Bédel Bokassa, Zambia’s Frederick Chiluba…to Jacob Zuma, African kleptocrats are running roughshod over the mineral-rich continent and its resourceful citizens…
How can South Africa’s Jacob Zuma spend millions of dollars of his country’s money on his private estate when Black South Africa does not have basic public services such as classrooms, hospitals, potable water…when hundreds if not thousands of Black South Africans are unemployed?
In the end most of these kleptomaniacal deeds are sanctioned and made easy by international capitalism. In other words the West and Westerners, not Africa and Africans, Asia and Asians, South America and South Americans, who actually control all the major networks of or important roads to international capitalism. And if we may also ask: Who are Jürgen Mossack and Ramon Fónseca, the men behind Mossack Fonseca & Co. and the so-called Panama Papers?
For instance, American and Swiss banks, to mention but two, endorse these ignoble and corrupt practices. Nicholas Shaxson’s book “Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens” treat this complex subject matter with auctorial ease. Likewise, a 46-page paper titled “The Price of Offshore: New Estimates For ‘Missing’ Global Private Wealth, Income, Inequality, and Lost Taxes (July 2012),” prepared by James S. Henry, senior advisor for and a global board member of the American-based Tax Justice Network, provides a near-exhaustive coverage of this subject matter.
It is Western capitalist agents who provide all the technical assistance global financial and political elites and kleptocrats need to hide their booties. Even so, the irony is that some kleptocrats from the socialist and communist blocs have also made very good use of these underground networks of international capitalism.
But we cannot always blame the Westerners because our kleptocrats and their shady representatives from the underworld seek them out. How do we tell our own story then? What sort of story should we tell the rest of the world when our leaders are endlessly selling Africa on the cheap?
In other words, what sort of story should we tell the rest of the world about ourselves and our dear continent?
Continental soul-searching is what we need to undertake as a people. We need to do something seriously about this corruption industry which is destroying Africa. Yet the great Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah did not steal a pesewa of Ghana’s money, let alone hide that pesewa in a foreign account. This is part of the larger story we should be sharing with the rest of the world.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ON THE PANAMA PAPERS
“It's not that they're breaking the laws, it's that the laws are so poorly designed that they allow people, if they've got enough lawyers and enough accountants, to wiggle out of responsibilities that ordinary citizens are having to abide by.”
In sum, Glenn Greenwald’s article “The Untouchables: How the Obama Administration Protected Wall Street From Prosecutions,” a critical piece published in The Guardian on January 23, 2013, and other written sources to numerous to mention expose President Obama’s hypocrisy!
We shall however leave readers to take a look at this piece and form their own judgments.
This was what President Obama said to Africa during his first historic visit to Ghana, the continent:
“Repression can take many forms, and too many nations, even those that have elections, are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves...or if police - if police can be bought off by drug traffickers.
“No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top…or the head of the port authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, even if occasionally you sprinkle an election in there. And now is the time for that style of governance to end.”
We shall leave these statements at that!
Austin Brako-Powers. “Panama Papers: Ex-President Kufuor, Kofi Annan Sons Cited.” Myjoyonline. April 5, 2016.
Ghanaweb. “Merely Using A Tax Haven Isn't A Crime—Ace Ankomah.”April 9, 2016.
Bright Oduro. “Country Report—Ghana.” Resource Material Series (# 66).
Tetteh A. Kofi. “The Elites and Underdevelopment in Africa.” Berkeley Journal of Sociology. Vol. 17 (1972-73), pp 97. Regents of the University of California.
Kwaku Adu. “Kufuor Dares Us, We Respond.” The Insight Newspaper.
Ghanaweb. “A New International Assignment for Kweku Baako and Gabby Asare Otchere Darko.” April 6, 2016.
Clement Apaak. “Massive Corruption Made Ex-President Kufuor Unfit For Mo Ibrahim Award.” Ghanaweb. Oct. 27, 2009.
Kweku Dadzie. “Sale of Government Assets.” Center for Consciencist Studies and Analyses (CENCSA). Nov. 28, 2012.
Hamish Boland-Rudd, Allan Holmes, and Ryan Chittum. “Impact of Panama Papers Rockets Around the World: US Officials React Cautiously.” The Center for Public Integrity. April 5, 2016.
MercyCorps. “Shining a Light on Africa's Kleptocracies.”July 13, 2009.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. “The Panama Papers: Politicians, Criminals and the Rogue Industry That Hides Their Cash.” Retrieved from https://panamapapers.icij.org/.
Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis