Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu says the involvement of Data Bank Financial Services Limited in the Agyapa Agreement smells of “bid-rigging.”.
Mr. Amidu further alleged that the procurement process “was manipulated by the Ministry of Finance by adding an unapproved rider for collaboration with a Ghanaian firm.”
Mr. Amidu further reveals in his report that other individuals who have business interests in Data Bank aside from the Finance Minister played various roles leading to the selection of Data Bank.
One, Felicia Ashley who is said to work at the Finance Ministry is mentioned.
According to Martin Amidu, she had previously worked as Vice President and Head of Human Capital and Administration at Data Bank.
Mr. Amidu said her current role as Director of Human Capital and General Administration meant she had oversight responsibility for the processes that saw the involvement of Data Bank.
These revelations are contained in a Corruption Risk Assessment report conducted by the Special Prosecutor on the Agyapa Royalties Agreement.
How Data Bank became involved
Documents analyzed by the Special Prosecutor indicate that Deputy Finance Minister, Charles Adu Boahen on October 6, 2017, wrote to the then CEO of the Public Procurement Authority, Adjenim Boateng Adjei asking for approval for the use of restrictive tendering to select a company willing to offer the government a receivable backed credit facility.
Four companies are said to have been named in this letter; Triple Flag, Navara Capital Limited, Stanbic Bank, and Petrodel Investor Limited.
The Special Prosecutor notes that “Imara Corporate Finance” was not part of the four.
Mr. Amidu says the PPA wrote back to the Finance Ministry requesting some documents.
Charles Adu Boahen according to the Special Prosecutor then wrote two letters to the PPA.
These letters he said introduced Imara Corporate Finance Limited for the first time.
The Special Prosecutor notes, “There was no request for Data Bank Financial Services Limited of Ghana to the PPA and the approvals consequently did not include Databank”.
He continues that the government then sent a request to the companies approved by the PPA to send in proposals.
The government is said to have in this request stated that “collaboration with eligible Ghanaian firms with complementary capabilities shall be favorably considered”.
The Ministry according to the Special Prosecutor received only two responses both of which had local partners.
The Special Prosecutor however argues in his report that the request which was approved by the PPA did not make the approval subject to any collaboration with eligible Ghanaian firms.
“The insertion of this condition was opaque and contrary to the PPA approval for the purpose of prevention of corruption and for suspected violations of the Public Procurement Act which may constitute corruption and corruption-related offenses.”
The firms said to have met this new condition were Imara with Data Bank as local partners and Morgan Stanley with Boulders Advisors as local partners.
Imara is said to have ranked first in terms of strengths and weaknesses.
The Special Prosecutor said this new requirement of having a local partner “made it impossible for the European and American shortlisted companies to meet the requirements”.
He notes; “The Request for proposals process from the Finance Ministry with a rider company smells of bid rigging…”
The Special Prosecutor describes the inclusion of a local rider company as a manipulation by the Finance Ministry which lowered the risk of corruption.
He adds, “The request for proposals process from the Ministry for Finance with a rider for collaboration with eligible Ghanaian firms smells of bid-rigging by the Finance Ministry for the proposals from Imara using Data Bank as a decoy on closer examination, analysis, and assessment of the terms and conditions of the Mandate agreement purportedly signed between the Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Republic of Ghana and Imara/ Databank”