CHRAJ exceeded its limit in $2.25b bond investigation – Lawyer
A private legal practitioner, Yaw Oppong, has opined that the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice [CHRAJ], went beyond its remit during the investigation of the controversial $2.25 billion bond issued by the Finance Ministry.
Speaking on Eyewitness News on Thursday, Yaw Oppong said the right institution to have investigated the matter is the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“The substantial issue confirms that the CHRAJ’s investigation did not grant the reliefs that complainants brought before it against the Minister, but if you read it carefully and from information that is in the public domain, CHRAJ for instance went into matters that it does not have jurisdiction to investigate or matters that exclusive jurisdiction or authority has been given to other statutory institutions.”
“For example, on the issues relating to the bond, such matters as far as I know, has been exclusively granted the Securities and Exchange Commission. For example, they have a committee that is mandated to do so in the name of the commission,” he added.
He referenced a case involving HFC where an issue was supposed to be investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission but ended up at the High Court.
“They [HFC] went to the high court and that court received the application but didn’t have jurisdiction. When it went to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court clearly said when it comes to matters relating to securities, the Securities and Exchange Commission is the first place of call to investigate that. Until they [Securities and Exchange Commission] have shown open bias or not been able to exhibit independence, then you can come to the court. So the Supreme Court struck out that application,” the private legal practitioner added.
He also added that, CHRAJ went beyond its jurisdiction to further investigate the Finance Minister’s assets saying that “I understand that, that matter was not part of the issues it was investigating.”
The controversy over the bond begun after the Minority called for a full-scale parliamentary probe into how persons they referred to as very close friends of the Finance Minister, purchased 95 percent of the $2.25 billion bond issue in April 2017.
The NDC’s Ashanti Regional Youth Organizer, Yaw Brongya Genfi, subsequently petitioned CHRAJ to investigate the bond on grounds that Mr. Ofori Atta attempted to promote a personal interest for himself, as well as family and friends,.
On the substantive matter of conflict of interest, CHRAJ cleared Mr. Ofori-Atta of any wrongdoing, stating that, “on the basis of the evidence available to the Commission, it has come to the conclusion and therefore holds that, the allegations by the complainant that the respondent has contravened Article 284 of the 1992 Constitution by putting himself in a conflict of interest situation in relation to the issuance of the 5-year, 7-year, 10-year and 15-year bonds, have not been substantiated.”
CHRAJ however said that the Finance Minister, breached certain processes in the issuance of the bond.
In its 140-page report on the matter, CHRAJ made some suggestions to the Minister of Finance to ensure that due diligence is ensured in subsequent deals.
Among other directives, it said the Minister must pass regulations to monitor the format of and criteria for the auctions, and the procedures for participation, bidding, and allocation in auctions in relation to the issuance of securities in the domestic market.
CHRAJ further charged the Minister take measures in preventing Primary Dealers who are also bookrunners or transaction Advisors from gaining the unfair advantage because of their dual roles.
It had found the Primary Dealers also doubled up as bookrunners or transaction advisors, and that dual role gave them an undue advantage.
Group sues Ofori-Atta, AG, CHRAJ over $2.25 bn bond
A group calling itself Dynamic Youth Organisation of Ghana, has sued the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, the Attorney General and the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice [CHRAJ] over the $2.25 billion bond issue.
The Convener for this new group, Edward Tutor, speaking on Eyewitness News last week explained that, the decision to clear Mr. Ofori Atta of any wrongdoing contravenes Article 284 of the constitution.
Mr. Tutor said their suit is to therefore to invoke the Supreme Court to interpret Article 284 of the 1992 constitution.
Ofori-Atta to sue CHRAJ
Meanwhile, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, may be dragging CHRAJ to court, over its handling of the petition in relation to the $2.25 billion bond issue.
He is heading to court to compel CHRAJ to overturn some of the declarations it considers irrelevant to the petition.
Addressing a news conference in Accra today [Thursday], the Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid, said the Finance Minister believes CHRAJ went “beyond the matter of conflict of interest to make pronouncements on other matters that it was not seized with the capacity to make.”
This was announced after the Minority in Parliament had reiterated their calls on the Minister to resign or be forced out constitutionally based on the findings of the CHRAJ report.