The proponents of the deal are under time pressure: if Agyapa Royalties has not been admitted to the London Stock Exchange by December 31, the agreements will lapse, and the project will cease.
Four weeks before the deadline, the fate of the controversial project is unclear, as it has been returned to the Parliament. Presidential elections on December 7 add to this uncertainty.
But even if the parliamentary approval is obtained in time, the Agyapa Royalties deal is not going to be out of the woods just yet, as the UK Financial Conduct Authority will need to approve the London Stock Exchange listing of Agyapa Royalties shares.
In the absence of a thorough investigation into the allegations of corruption, the UK authorities should reject the project, upholding their mission to “regulate in a way that adds the most benefit to those who use financial services.”
The compliance departments of the corporate parties to the deal should also take notice. They should suspend their engagement on the project until the allegations are fully investigated. The investment banks JP Morgan and Bank of America – both of whom are involved in the initial public offering – and the law firm White and Case – who have advised the Ministry of Finance – should not partake in a deal fraught with corruption risks.
When an opportunity for a lucrative new project comes up, it is easy to forget about the normal people who rely on their country’s most valuable resource.
Allegations in a far-away continent may make it difficult for authorities, lawyers and bankers in London to visualise the impact on Ghanaian men, women and children. It is their future that is being mortgaged, however. The loss belongs to every Ghanaian who may never see roads, schools and hospitals being built because those outside the country fail to see through an “innovative financing solution” as a potential façade for embezzlement.