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Finance ministry is “stonewalling” and delaying Agyapa deal probe – Martin Amidu laments

Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu has decried what he referred to as “stonewalling” and “delays” by the finance ministry which is frustrating his office’s ongoing probe into the controversial Agyapa deal.

Finance ministry is “stonewalling and delaying Agyapa deal probe – Martin Amidu laments

Mr. Amidu mentioned specifically, Deputy Minister Charles Adu Boahen as the one making the corruption risk assessment being carried out on the deal difficult for the OSP.

“We wanted them to give us all the payments made through approved banking channels to show us how much has gone into the transaction so that once and for all, we can make an assessment based upon the quantum of money being paid.

“That’s why we are telling him [Adu Boahen]: ‘Give us the evidence for the quantum you have paid [that] is not substantial’. I haven’t had a reply and that is the only thing holding the assessment report”, Mr. Amidu told Accra-based Citi FM.

“The holding up of the assessment report is not from this office because we intended it to be out by the end of September.”

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“The stonewalling, the delays have come from the Ministry of Finance, particularly the Deputy Minister of Finance, Adu Boahen.

“He’s the one who has held us up and, unfortunately, we are in October, which is not what we intended”, he noted.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor initiated a probe into the Agyapa deal following controversies surrounding it with the opposition National Democratic Congress, Civil Society Organisations and other well-meaning Ghanaians raising concerns about possible corruption and lack of value for money.

The government of Ghana then put on hold the launch of the Initial Public Offering (IPO) by Agyapa Royalties pending the completion of a corruption risk assessment by the OSP.

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“The Ministry does not intend to proceed with the IPO ahead of the results of the corruption risk assessment by your Office,” a letter from the Finance Ministry addressed to the OSP read.

“The international investor community has been closely monitoring the outcome of the current state of the transaction, and, it would, therefore, be detrimental to proceed without receiving the necessary approvals and green light from your Office,” the letter signed by Mr. Adu Boahen assured the OSP.

“Additionally, we will be required to fully disclose in the prospectus to the transaction, the outcome of any investigation by your office prior to approval by the respective regulators of stock exchanges in Ghana and the United Kingdom.”

However, according to Martin Amidu, despite the assurance by the ministry to “provide any further information or clarification” to the OSP to facilitate the assessment, it has not been forthcoming with the relevant information requested by his office to conclude its probe and advise the government accordingly.

“That is why they have to expedite our request so we have this thing done”.

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“It’s not in our interest [to keep it on hold]”.

“We are not doing an investigation. We are not a Commission of Inquiry. We are not prosecuting. We are only performing our anti-corruption, prevention risk assessment.

“It is for both prevention and corruption. That’s what we are doing.

“It has consequences, of course, because it demonstrates whether the transaction lowers or raises the bar.

“If it lowers the bar and, therefore, it’s an incentive for corruption, of course, there’s something wrong with it. If it raises the bar and, therefore, discourages you from being corrupt, it’s another thing. And we are examining the processes from the selection of the books to the approval by parliament”, he explained.

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“Everything depends on the Ministry of Finance”, Mr. Amidu noted, revealing that: “The last time I sent them a reminder was the 7th of October” and “well, nothing has come”.

Parliament, a few weeks ago, in line with the Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF) Act, 2018 (Act 978), approved agreements to allow the country to derive maximum value from its mineral resources and monetise its mineral income accruing to the country in a sustainable and responsible manner.

The move, gives Agyapa Royalties Limited, the right to secure about $1 billion to enable government finance large infrastructural projects.

The Finance Ministry had furnished the OSP with some information but it wrote a letter back to the ministry for further details about the IPO.

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“This Office would have wished to complete its corruption risk assessment on the Agyapa Royalties Transaction soonest but for the non-submission of the information and documents pending to be submitted by your Ministry.

“The information and documents you supplied concerned mainly the processes for and the appointment of the Transaction Advisors, which goes to the root of any corruption risk assessment.

“Information and documents relating to the identification and recommendation by the transaction advisors to your Ministry for appointment a list of other services providers and or underwriters that may be required to complete the transaction as provided in clause 2.2.1 of the mandate agreement amongst others, that are critical to any through corruption risk assessment are also outstanding.

“The legal opinions particularly of the principal legal advisor to the government under the Constitution are relevant to ensure compliance with her recommendations as part of any corruption risk assessment,” the OSP’s letter requesting further documents from the Finance ministry read in part.

“In the circumstances, this Office wishes to urge you to abide by the results of the corruption risk assessment it is undertaking on the transaction before moving to the launching of the IPO transaction.

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“This Office makes this suggestion on the grounds of prudence on your part and to also not give the impression that the mandate of this Office on prevention of corruption is of no consequence to the transaction,” the letter added.

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