Investigative Journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas has petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta.
CHRAJ Commissioner, Joseph Whittal confirmed to JoyNews that the Commission has received an official complaint from the Tiger Eye PI team on a conflict of interest situation involving Ken Ofori-Atta and Former Minister of State, Charles Adu Boahen.
Tiger Eye PI in its petition alleged that the duo have engaged in conflict of interest in the use of their companies in relation to the purchase of government bonds while executing their duties as state officials.
“The allegations are that there is conflict of interest in terms of their official duties as public officers and the companies in which they have interest in terms of government bonds and so the case is going through the standard process of assessment in order to make sure that it meets procedural requirement under the Commission’s regulation as well as whether it is really within the mandate of the Commission. Based on that, we will then decide what next steps to take,” Whittal told JoyNews.
It will be recalled that Charles Adu Boahen was dismissed for alleged influence peddling in the latest expose, ‘Galamsey Economy’ by Anas.
Mr. Adu Boahen has however, denied being involved in any corrupt activity and said the documentary sought to entrap him.
Already, the Minority in Parliament has also accused the Finance Minister of conflict of interest as part of the justification for the censure motion against him.
During the Committee hearing, lawyers for Ken Ofori-Atta argued that any allegation of conflict of interest can only be investigated and within the purview of CHRAJ and therefore prayed for the Committee to strike out that allegation.
If CHRAJ finds it worth investigating, the accused persons would be required to appear before the antigraft institution to answer some questions in relation to the petition filed.
Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta is currently facing a censure motion by the Minority to remove him from office while 98 of the NPP MPs have declared a vote of no confidence in his ability to deliver on the mandate of Finance Minister.
As part of the demand for ken Ofori-Atta to be sacked, the Minority said the Minister’s incompetence has resulted in the current poor state of the economy.
Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta has been accused of employing the services of a company he co-founded, Data Bank Financial Services – as advisors for some of Ghana’s international loan transactions.
Black Star Brokerage, a company belonging to Charles Adu Boahen has also been accused of benefitting from transactions on government bond issuance.
Both companies have allegedly been acting as financial advisors and Bond Market Specialists to the Ministry of Finance.
The Member of Parliament for Bolgatanga Central, Isaac Adongo in 2018 also accused Ken Ofori Atta of conflict of interest following the appointment of Databank Financial Services as transaction advisors to the Ministry and the Bank of Ghana (BoG) in the issuance of government bonds.
The MP in a letter titled: ‘Databank must be withdrawn as TA to Ministry of Finance,’ said industry watchers and well-meaning Ghanaians needed to be “concerned” about the development, “especially given the things that unfolded at the Ministry of Finance with regard to public bond issuance since the assumption into office of Mr Ofori-Atta.
“It lends credence to growing disquiet in the financial sector that family and friends are having a better part of government-related businesses, not track record, competence and clout,” he stated.
According to him, Barclays Bank, Ghana, Standard Chartered Bank, Ghana and Strategic African Securities (SAS) used to be the book runners for the BoG. However, he said Databank was replaced with SAS given the relationship between the Finance Minister and Databank.
“It is disgusting to note that Databank, which is the baby of the current Finance Minister, is now a book runner at the Bank of Ghana (BoG). It is instructive to note that the presence of Databank in the Transactions Advisor team puts the Minister of Finance in a potential conflict of interest situation,” he mentioned.
Mr. Charles Adu Boahen while appearing before the Parliament’s Appointment Committee in 2021, said he was no longer involved in the running of Black Star Brokerage, which he owns. Mr Adu-Boahen said he had resigned from the company in 2017 and had since not engaged in any of its activities.
“As I mentioned earlier, I resigned from the board and the management of Black Star Brokerage in 2017. I have no role and do not participate in its business dealings,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance dismissed such claims that Databank and Black Star Brokerage were handpicked by the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Ghana to act as Bond Market Specialists for government bond issuance, hence benefiting from those transactions.
In a statement, the Ministry said, it is incorrect the claim that these two firms have been appointed as advisors to the Ministry of Finance (MoF).
“The selection of the Primary Dealers [PDs] and Bond Market Specialists [BMSs] is an automatic process based on market performance and historical secondary market trading activity which is publicly available and cannot be manipulated by the Ministry of Finance [MoF] or the Bank of Ghana [BoG]”.
“Since 1996, the Ministry of Finance with the Bank of Ghana has developed and implemented various policies which affect the issuance and trading of Government of Ghana debt securities (Treasuries and Bonds). The ultimate objectives of these policies are to develop an efficient fixed income market, strengthen the capacity of local institutions and deepen financial intermediation”, it added.
Furthermore, it pointed out that Databank and Black Star Brokerage are two out of nine firms that have been selected by BoG/MoF as Bond Market Specialists and not Advisors to MoF.