General News of Sun, 21 May 201770
Ofori-Atta wants more time to respond to CHRAJ on $2.25bn bond
The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, has requested for an extra 15 working days to respond to the queries of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) in the matter of whether or not he contravened provisions of the 1992 Constitution in the public offer of the $2.25 billion bond in 10 days.
The Chief Director of the ministry, Mr Patrick Nomo, in a letter dated May 11, 2017 requested for the extension of time.
The extension, according to the letter, was necessary to properly respond to the issues raised by CHRAJ in their letter to the Minister on May 5, 2017.
The minister said in order to properly respond to the issues with supporting documentation, an extension of time by an additional 15 business days was required.
He said that would enable him properly coordinate with all relevant parties, including external transaction advisors, for the information to be provided.
CHRAJ on May 5, 2017 requested the minister to comment on whether or not he had contravened provisions of the 1992 Constitution in the public offer of the $2.25 billion bond in 10 days.
The letter of CHRAJ titled, “Allegation of contravention or non-compliance with Article 284 of the 1992 Constitution by Mr Ken Ofori-Atta - A public officer: Request for comments,” was delivered through the secretariat of the Minister, sources confirmed to Graphic Online.
The request for the Minister’s comments was based on a petition by a citizen, Mr Yaw Brogya Genfi.
In his complaint to CHRAJ titled, “Petition to investigate conflict of interest in the recent US$2.25 billion bond issued by the government of Ghana through the Ministry of Finance,” he alleged that the minister had placed himself in a conflict of interest position, and thus, in breach of constitutional provisions.
When Graphic Online contacted, the Commissioner of CHRAJ, Mr Joseph Whittal confirmed that the minister had asked for more time to respond.
“We are amenable to the request,” was all he would say.
Mr Genfi alleged in his petition that, “a number of issues of conflict of interest and the lack of transparency have emerged from the bond issuance.”
For instance, the bonds were not on the issuance calendar; the initial pricing guidelines of the bond were issued after working hours on March 30, 2017, while the public announcement of the transaction was sent by email at 9:09 am on March 31, 2017.
That meant that the transaction was opened before the announcement was made to the public.
Mr Genfi further alleged that April 3, 2017 was the Settlement Date and not the closing date of the bond.
He said one single investor, Franklin Templeton Investment Limited, an American global investment management organisation founded in 1947 purchased 95 per cent of the bond issued.
Mr Genfi was of the view that “a relational interest existed between the Minister of Finance and Mr Trevor G Trefgarne, who in a semi-annual report of the Franklin Templeton Investment Limited of December 31, 2016 is named as one of the Board of Directors of the organisation, while also being the Chairman of the Enterprise Group Limited.
“Enterprise Group Limited is a company partially owned by Data Bank Limited, a company in which the Finance Minister is known to have significant interest,” Mr Genfi said.
He also complained that Mr Tevor G Trefgarne and the Minister of Finance had also been described as “great friends.”
CHRAJ after its preliminary assessment of the petition asked the Minister of Finance for his comments on the allegations made against him.
It had asked the Minister in his responses, to as much as possible, support with any documents or information, “within 10 days and, if you admit to the allegations, to state so expressly.”
“The Commission would like to inform you that if you deny the allegations made against you, the Commission would cause the matter to be investigated,” the letter added.