Minority deceiving public – MoF

A deputy Finance Minister Abena Osei Asare is accusing the minority of deception over claims of conflict of interest against her boss Ken Ofori-Atta.

The minority at a press briefing on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 cited the finance minister for conflict of interest and lack of transparency in the issuance of $2.25 billion 15-year bond.

Government issued 15 and 7-year bonds with a coupon rate of 19.75%, raising a total amount of USD1.13 billion. The Finance Ministry additionally raised cedi equivalent of USD1.12 billion in five and 10-year bonds through a tap arrangement. Former deputy finance Minister Casely Ato Forson at the press conference asserted Franklin Templeton Investment limited which acquired about 95% of the domestic bond floated earlier this month has a direct relationship with Mr. Ofori-Atta.

“In an unaudited semi-annual report of Franklyn Templeton Investment limited dated 31st December, 2016; Honourable Trevor G. Trefgarne was named as one of the five board of Directors of the firm. He was also described as the chairman of Enterprise Group Limited in the report. Enterprise Group has 10 Board of Directors. Principal among them are Mr Keli Gadzekpo, Group Chief Executive of Enterprise Group; Dr Angela Ofori Atta, wife of Finance Minister Hon. Ken Ofori Atta who doubles as Director of Enterprise Insurance, a subsidiary of Enterprise Group.

“Enterprise Group also has Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Hon. Gloria Akuffo and Dr Angela Ofori Atta as non-executive members of the firm. Hon Gloria Akuffo is/was Director of Enterprise Life, a subsidiary of Enterprise Group (it is not clear whether she has resigned or not).

“It is now emerging that a firm that Hon Trevor G. Trefgarne works as a member of Board of Directors took substantial position in the April 3, 2017, bond issued by the Finance Minister. As noted, information that is now available in the public domain appears to indicate that Hon. Trevor G. Trefgarne is not just Board Chairman of Enterprise insurance Limited, a company owned partially by the current Finance Minister’s company, Data Bank Limited.

“Hon. Trevor G. Trefgarne is also a Director of Franklyn Templeton which is the main participant in the recent Bond issuance. Putting these apparent facts together, we have reason to believe that there is a relational interest between our Finance Minister and Trevor G. Trefgarne which creates a potential lack of transparency and conflict of interest,” the minority said.

The minority is calling a parliamentary probe into the deal.

The NDC MPs are threatening to drag the finance Minister to the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) if their quest to get the Legislature to look into the deal fails.

“Furthermore, we also intend to exercise the option of filing a report/petition with the Financial Services Authority of the U.S.A to investigate Franklyn Templeton. We also wish to point out that this Bond issue is clearly an international economic/business transaction within the meaning of article 181 (5) of the Constitution.

Therefore, we expected that the bond issuance would have been brought to parliament for approval”.

However, speaking to Starr News, a deputy Finance Minister Abena Osei Asare refuted claims of the minority explaining the previous administration dealt with the investor in question. “What the minority is seeking to do is just throwing dust into the public eyes. There are more important issues that we need to discuss. —This Franklin Templeton Investor that they are talking about, we’ve been doing business, Ghana has been doing business with them for more than 10 years now so I honestly don’t see what they are talking about”.

The Atiwa East MP also challenged claims the deal was shrouded in secrecy arguing the one day used in floating the bonds is a normal practice.

She stressed: “There is an issuance calendar which comes every quarter that will tell you the number of bonds that is going to take place in a particular quarter. So this is nothing new, they knew about it. They said that the period was just one day, my brother usually it’s two days but it’s happened before that these bonds are done in a day, there is nothing wrong with that, this is nothing out of the ordinary. It wasn’t done in secrecy, there is not conflict of interest here and they are free to do whatever they want to do. But I believe that in their quest to come to power, they shouldn’t destroy this country through some of these things. This is an investor you have worked with before; over 10 years. This investor bought 3.5 billion of your bonds so this is nothing new”.

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