General News of Sunday, 23 July 2017
The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, is on the heels of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to facilitate hearing into allegations of conflict of interest levelled against him with regard to the issuance of a $2.25 billion bond.
According to the minister, “the subject matter of the petition holds consequences for the economy of Ghana,” and for that reason, he would very much appreciate it if CHRAJ decides on it expeditiously.
A letter dated July 20, 2017, and signed by a Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, on behalf of the Minister of Justice, indicated “we would thus greatly appreciate it if an expedited determination” is made on the case.
The Attorney-General on May 31, 2017, sent an official response on conflict of interest allegations levelled against Mr Ofori-Atta.
According to the Attorney-General, “there is no evidence of any act or omission on the part of either the ministry or the minister supporting an allegation of participation in a business transaction or activity for the benefit of friends or family.”
It said neither did the personal interests of either the Ministry of Finance or the Minister of Finance interfered with the performance of their duties and functions.
“Further, no personal or private benefit has been derived by the Minister of Finance through the issuance of the Bonds in question.
“Simply put, the respondent has not contravened article 284 of the Constitution,” the official response noted.
The response was in compliance with an invitation from the Commissioner of the CHRAJ for comments on a petitioner’s allegation claiming Mr Ofori-Atta had failed to comply with article 284 of the 1992 Constitution.
Describing the petition as “very deplorable,” the letter argued that Mr Brogya Genfi’s petition had “the real tendency to negatively taint an otherwise highly successful financial exercise of great import by the Government of Ghana.”
“We deem the petitioner’s allegations as very deplorable, since same are clearly anchored on blatant falsehoods and manifest unfamiliarity with the regulations and procedure for the issue of Government of Ghana Bonds,” the letter continued.
It accordingly prayed CHRAJ to dismiss the petition “as grossly unmeritorious and frivolous.”
Conflict of Interest
Touching further on the allegation of conflict of interest, the Attorney-General said “a conflict of interest allegation arises in the light of clear facts, which support a conclusion that a public officer’s personal interest conflicts with or is likely to conflict with the performance of the functions of his or her office.”
“The interest ought to be financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, which must ultimately be clearly proven,” the Attorney-General noted.
She further submitted that, “respectfully, the law makes no room for mere conjecture, suspicion or imagination. The complainant has been unable to allude to, show or establish any facts relevant and contemporaneous to the transaction that has even the remotest potential to undermine the respondent’s impartiality, in view of the possibility of a clash between the respondent’s self-interest and professional interest or public interest.”
It further went on to argue that Mr Ofori-Atta had no responsibility to any of the investors and had no personal interest in the transaction beyond his professional interest as a Minister.
The Attorney-General’s response also touched on rules governing the issue of Bonds in question, rationale for the issue of the Bonds in question and specific responses to allegations of petitioner outlined in the letter of the Commission dated May 5, 2017.
The Attorney-General said the petition sought an enquiry into “conflict of interest in the recent US$2.25 Billion Bond issued by the Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Finance”, and yet failed to set out particulars of the alleged conflict of interest in the petition.
The Ministry of Finance and Mr Ofori-Atta categorically denied the allegations, she said, and asserted that there had been no breach of any of the laws or rules governing the issue of bonds, the allegations of the complainant are based on plain falsehoods and there has been no conflict of interest involving the respondent.
She outlined the rules governing the issuance of Bonds and further stated that the stakeholders adhered to all the rules.
“The complainant has woefully failed to indicate which rule was breached in the issue of the Bonds in question.
“The reason is more than apparent – no rule was breached, and there was strict compliance. We respectfully request the Commission to reject this petition as conjectural, spurious and trumped up,” the minister prayed the CHRAJ.