The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has began investigating a conflict of interest petition brought before it by Anas Aremeyaw Anas.
The investigative journalist who is the founder of Tiger Eye P.I is urging CHRAJ to look into allegations that the private companies of Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta and former Minister of State at the Finance Ministry, Charles Adu Boahen, benefitted from loans and bonds entered into by Ghana.
Earlier, Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta had 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.
While 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.
Confirming the development to JoyNews, CHRAJ Commissioner, Joseph Whittal said the Commission has received an official complaint from the Tiger Eye PI team and is assessing the materials presented to it.
“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,” Mr. Whittal said.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has also commenced investigations into the same corruption allegations levelled against Charles Adu Boahen in an exposé after President Akufo-Addo’s referral of the matter to the Office.
The Member of Parliament for Bolgatanga Central, Isaac Adongo in 2018 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The MP in a letter titled: ‘Databank must be withdrawn as TA to Ministry of Finance,’ said industry watchers and well-meaning Ghanaians needed to be “concerned” about the development, “especially given the things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.