Opinions of Fri, 28 Jul 201711

NDC should stop politicising every matter

Although it is not been too long since NDC lost the December 2016 elections, it has continued to demonstrate its incompetence even in opposition. They are using all means whether fair or foul and propaganda (just as they were in Government) to accuse Nana Addo’s Government of wrong doings.

To be fair, some NDC senior members such as the Former Minister Fiifi Kwetey are not talking that much these days, perhaps they are waiting for appropriate situations to occur. Similarly, Dr Michael Bokor, an ardent supporter of NDC who used to write and criticise Nana Akuf-Addo and NPP has not written after the elections.

Yet, there are some like Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Cassiel Ato Baah-Forson and etc. who have continued to display their ignorance by pursuing Nana Addo Government mainly for a destructive purpose. The examples below illustrate the point.

Firstly, when Captain Mahama was brutally murdered, Asiedu Nketia tried to achieve a political point by issuing a statement that ‘the NDC is laying blame for this heinous and callous lynching of Captain Mahama at the doorstep of President Akufo-Addo’

Unfortunately for Asiedu Nkatia, Ghanaians did not buy the politicisation of the brutal murder of an innocent officer, which no one could have prevented except the culprits.

Secondly, just last week, Sammy Gyamfi, a NDC communication team member alleged that one of the daughters of President Akufo-Addo is deeply involved in the contaminated oil saga at the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST).

The allegation is so bizarre because he based his claim on rumours he heard about one of Akufo Addo’s daughters, Edwina being deeply involved in the matter so is it the reasons why he (Akuffo Addo) is silent?’ Since then the daughter of the President has denied the allegation and requested for the retraction of the allegation.

Is Sammy Gyamfi so silly that he has soon forgotten what happened when Ayariga used rumours as the basis of his bribery allegation against Joseph Osei-Wusu and others? Ayariga failed miserably to prove his point.

Thirdly, as indicated above Honourable Ayariga accused Joe wise Osei Wusu as the conduit for paying the bribe and Joe Wise in turn used Hon Muntanka to facilitate the process at the NDC end.

Unfortunately for Ayariga, he did not have any proof beyond rumours and Mr Muntanka categorically denied any involvement, so he was eventually compelled to apologise to Parliament and people affected to avoid a parliamentary sanction against him. It appears Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa who strongly supported Mr Ayariga has not learnt a lesson from that.

Forthly, some senior NDC members have accused NPP as being behind the petition to impeach Ms Charlotte Osei.

However, the events that have unfolded show clearly that the problem is neither NPP nor NDC issue; it is simply a clash between the Commissioners and perhaps, their alleged corrupt activities playing out against each other. It is therefore sad that some NDC members are accusing NPP of the cause of the petition instead of allowing the law to run its cause.

In fact, since Ms Osei revealed her response confirming the serious animosity between her and the deputies, anyone who still continues to read politics into the issue appears dishonest. But that is not strange as it is typical of NDC.

The last issue which I will discuss and in more detail is the accusation by some NDC members including Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Cassiel Ato Forson that the Finance Minister has engaged in conflict of interest in relation to the acquisition of $2.25b bonds by Franklin Templeton Investments Ltd.

I have followed the issue with keen interest and have done my own research and have the following to say. Firstly, the response by the Finance Minister, Mr Ofori-Atta to CHRAJ on $2.25bn bond petition demonstrates clearly that there has been no conflict of interest.

In fact, in reading the response, it was strange to note that it appears the NDC member, Mr Yaw Brogya Genfi, who filed the petition with CHRAJ confuses Franklin Templeton Investments Limited as a corporate entity with a person. However, as I have outlined below, there is no way that the Finance Minister could have benefitted from the transaction.

My research has revealed that Mr Trevor Trefgarne, the person at the centre of the allegation is disclosed in the financial report of Franklin Templeton Investments Fund (the Fund) as a non-executive director of the Fund. The Fund is a subsidiary of the global investment company, Franklin Resources Inc. (a US company). It appears underlying the Fund are these two entities, Franklin Templeton Luxembourg S.A. and Franklin Templeton Management Luxembourg S.A (but perhaps trading/listed as Franklin Templeton Investments Fund).

According to the 2016 annual report of Franklin Resources Inc., it achieved operating revenue of $6.68 billion ($7.9 billion in 2015) and had $733.3 billion assets under management ($770.9 billion in 2015). So in every respect, the Group is a very large entity. Therefore, it appears that it would be difficult for Mr Trefgarne to influence a decision in the Group on behalf of himself or Mr Ofori Atta.

But perhaps, the strongest reasons why neither Mr Ken Ofori nor Mr Trefgarne (also a chairman of a company associated with Ken) would benefit directly from the bond transaction are as follows:

1. As indicated before, Mr Trevor Trefgarne is just a non-executive director of a subsidiary (subsidiaries) of Franklin Resources Inc. (the holding company). The subsidiary has 8 directors in all, according to its 2016 annual report.

2. Mr Gregory E. Johnson is the Board Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of both the subsidiary which Mr Trefgarne is a non-executive director and the holding company, Franklin Resources. Inc.

3. Mr Vijay C. Advani is also a director of the Fund (the subsidiary). Mr. Advani, is a Co-President of Global Advisory Services division of Franklin Resources, Inc. and together with Mrs Jennifer M. Johnsonare are the only two Co-Presidents of the entire Group. Therefore he is ranked as one of the two most senior executive officers in the entire group beside the CEO, Mr Johnson.

4. Dr. J. B. Mark Mobius, another director of the subsidiary is also listed as the Executive Chairman of Templeton Emerging Market Group ( it appears this may also be a related entity of the Group).

On the basis of the background and positions of some members of the Board of Directors of the Fund (the subsidiary) which Mr Trefgarne is only a non-executive director, it seems absolutely impossible that Mr Trefgarne or Mr Ofori-Atta would be able to benefit materially from the bond which the entity acquired since Mr Trefgarne is just a non-executive director.

In transaction of this financial magnitude, it is certain that Mr Gregory Johnson doubling as the Executive Chairman and CEO of both the Fund and the holding company (i.e. the entire Group) will make the ultimate decision. Therefore, neither Ken nor Mr Trefgarne can benefit directly from the acquisition of the bond even if any of them recommended that the bond should be purchased by the Group. But as per Ken’s response to CHARJ, the acquisition was made in a transparent manner with all due process followed. So I am not sure how the Opposition believes that they can pin Ken to the wall, it is only naive to believe that.

On the basis of the above, I do not believe that Ken Ofori Atta or Mr Trefgarne could benefit directly from the transaction because the two of the three most senior officers/directors of the Group are also board members of the subsidiary that actually made the acquisition.

In addition, with my experience working with the Australian Government’s corporate regulator (an equivalent of the US SEC), I do not believe that the NDC will get anywhere with the applications they have made to the US Security Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commission de Surveillance de Secteur Financier (CSSF) of Luxembourg. For example, while the SEC states that it provides International Enforcement Assistance (see: https://www.sec.gov/about/offices/oia/oia_crossborder.shtml), it list some conditions and/or considerations that determine whether it will provide the assistance or not. They include:

1. Whether the request is coming from “foreign securities authorities” as defined in Section 3(a) (50) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

2. The requesting authority has agreed to provide reciprocal assistance in securities matters to the Commission.

3. The requesting authority provides the appropriate assurances of confidentiality.

4. The compliance with the request would (not) prejudice the public interest of the United States.

In my view, the NDC request to the SEC will not meet most of the conditions listed above. Firstly, NDC is an opposition party and not a security authority, so it will miss out the first consideration and for that reason, it will also miss out the second. In addition, NDC is already discussing the whole issue in public so it does not seem that it will satisfy SEC with the confidentiality requirement.

Lastly, it appears the last consideration will be missed too because the SEC will also consider the impact of the assistance on the US relationship with the Ghana government. It is strange that NDC is taking the fact that their application to the SEC has been given to a case officer to mean that they will have a good outcome.

In organisations like this, every application is assigned to someone to assess the merits or otherwise of it and receipt of the application is also acknowledged. So it seems the US SEC has done nothing more than that and will eventually subject it to “NFA” (No Further Action) decision.

On the basis of the above discussion, it is clear that NDC is wasting its time and just disgracing the country and driving away potential investors.

Certainly, we want a vibrant opposition as an alternative to the Government but that does not mean that they have to achieve that by any means including those detrimental to the country.

Columnist: Joseph Annor

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