Akufo-Addo orders investigation into Airbus bribes under Mills-Mahama era

President Nana Akufo-Addo has ordered an inquiry into allegations that Airbus, Europe’s largest aircraft manufacturers, paid bribes to government officials under the Mills-Mahama administration.

Airbus admits paying bribes in Ghana under Mills-Mahama era

A Jubilee House statement signed by the Director of Communications, Eugen Arhin, said the president has referred the matter to the Office of Special Prosecutor to collaborate with its UK’s counterparts to conduct a prompt inquiry to determine the complicity or otherwise of any Ghanaian government official, past or present.

The statement also charged that the necessary legal action will be taken against any official as required by the laws of Ghana if found culpable.

The statement from the presidency comes on the heels of admission by Airbus that it paid bribes and commissions to Ghanaian officials in the purchase of three military aricrafts under the presidency of John Evans Atta-Mills.

At the time, then Vice President John Mahama was the chairman of the Armed Forces Council.

It was also revealed that ex-president Mills ordered an investigation into the purchase of the aircrafts but dissolved the committee after intervention by some ‘powerful’ persons.

Earlier, the former attorney general under ex-president John Mahama, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, issued a statement saying government officials under the Mills-Mahama administration did not receive bribes from Airbus in the purchase of three aircrafts.

In a statement on the letter head of the National Democratic Congress, Appiah-Oppong observed that publications suggesting so were "false, misleading and do not reflect the approved judgement."

According to her, no were in the judgement from the UK court, where Airbus admitted to paying bribes, did the company admitted to paying bribes to government officials under Mills era where former president John Mahama was the chairman of the Ghana Armed Forces Council.

"It is therefore a gross distortion by the media to conclude that officials of the Ghana Government between 2009 and 2015 were bribed or paid commissions bu Airbus for the acquisition of Casa-C295 aircrafts," the statement added.

Background story

Airbus, Europe's largest airplane manufacturer, admitted to paying bribes in Ghana and other countries between 2011 and 2015 in a sweeping investigation dating back to almost a decade.

The company has been fined 3 billion pounds for bribing public officials and fixers over a string of hidden payments as part of a pattern of worldwide corruption to facilitate the sales of its wares.

"The planemaker agreed to pay the penalties on Friday after reaching settlements with investigators in the UK, France, and the US to end inquiries that started four years ago,” UK's The Guardian newspaper reported.

The report follows the outcome of UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation that “Allison Clare, for the SFO, told the court the company had paid bribes in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Taiwan and Ghana between 2011 and 2015.”

Airbus is accused of hiring and disguising payments to a close relative of a government officials in Ghana with no aerospace experience in connection with a sale of military transport planes, the SFO said.

The SFO noted that the bribery was intended to obtain or retain business or advantage in the conduct of business for Airbus.

According to the court document between 2009 and 2015 an Airbus defence company engaged an unnamed person, only identified as Intermediary 5, a close relative of a high ranking elected Ghana government official (also not named but referred to as Government Official 1), as its business partner in respect of the proposed sale of three aircraft to the government of Ghana.

“A number of ofAirbus employees knew that Intermediary five was a close relative of Government Official 1, a key decision-maker in respect of the sales.

However, “a number of Airbus employees made or promised success based commission payments of approximately €5 million to Intermediary 5.

“False documentation was created by or with the agreement of Airbus employees in order to support and disguise these payments. The payments were intended to induce or reward improper favour by the Government Official 1towards Airbus,” the document suggests.

The document, sighted by Pulse.com.gh, said between 2009 and 2015 an Airbus defence company engaged an unnamed person, only identified as Intermediary 5, a close relative of a high ranking elected Ghana government official (also not named but referred to as Government Official 1), as its business partner in respect of the proposed sale of three aircraft to the government of Ghana.

“A number of ofAirbus employees knew that Intermediary five was a close relative of Government Official 1, a key decision-maker in respect of the sales.

However, “a number of Airbus employees made or promised success based commission payments of approximately €5 million to Intermediary 5.

“False documentation was created by or with the agreement of Airbus employees in order to support and disguise these payments. The payments were intended to induce or reward improper favour by the Government Official 1towards Airbus,” the document said.

It will be recalled that the Ghana Air Force acquired three aircraft from Airbus Defence and Space between 2011 and 2015.

It will also be recalled that in 2012, Martin Amidu (now Special Prosecutor) revealed that late President Mills set up a Committee of Enquiry to investigate the acquisition of aircraft for the Armed Forces negotiated by President John Mahama.

Martin Amidu was the Attorney General under ex-President Mills before he was dismissed from office for an alleged insubordination.

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