The Council of State, has been caught in a possible conflict of interest situation as it tried meeting the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members in Parliament to beg for the withdrawal of the various petitions filed against the US$2.25 billion Franklin Templeton Investments’ bond, because they were hurting investors’ confidence in the Ghanaian economy.
Firstly, inside the Council of State, is the owner of the Strategic African Securities Limited (SAS) and SAS Investment Management Limited (SASIM); Togbe Afede XIV, Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State and the President of Asogli Traditional Area in Ho – Volta Region.
Born James Akpo, Togbe Afede is on the Council of State by virtue of his position as the President of National House of Chiefs.
SAS, Barclays and Stanbic, were part of financial advisors mandated by the Ministry of Finance to work on the controversial US$2.25 billion Franklin Templeton Investments’ bond for the Akufo-Addo government, which is now a subject of investigation at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
SAS together with Barclays and Stanbic, had advised the Akufo-Addo government on the matter and collected fees yet to be made public.
Secondly, James Akpo alias Togbe Afede, has been a business partner of Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta and Keli Gadzekpo, the two kingpins behind the US$2.25 billion Franklin Templeton Investments’ bond.
The three had co-founded the Databank Financial Services in the 1990s.
The US$2.25 billion bond, has been demonstrated to have been cooked for family and friends of Finance Minister, Ken Ofori -Atta.
The Finance Minister’s two companies; Data Bank and Enterprise Insurance, his friends Keli Gadzekpo and Trevor G. Trefgarne; Chairman of the Enterprise Group, Dr. Angela Ofori-Atta; wife of the Finance Minister, have all been mentioned in connection to the money with the Minority NDC calling for a full scale investigation into the bond controversy.
The Minority had at a press conference stated that 95percent of the $2.25 billion was sold to Franklyn Templeton, a company whose director, Trevor Trefgarne, also doubles as the Director of Enterprise Group, a company owned by the Finance Minister.
A Ministry of Finance statement had mentioned that the Bookrunners – Barclays, Stanbic and SAS – on behalf of the Ministry of Finance mandated to issue these domestic bonds on a regular basis as per the debt issuance calendar which Ministry of Finance (MoF) puts out every quarter.
The website of SAS said the “Strategic African Securities Ltd (SAS) is an integrated investment banking and financial advisory firm, founded by a group of experienced professionals and business executives with a commitment to providing quality service to private and institutional investors in Ghana and other emerging markets”.
It explained that, “SAS’s core business activities are securities trading, corporate finance advisory and investment research” adding that “among our prestigious transactions include the Initial Public Offer (IPO) and the Rights Issue of Ghana Commercial Bank Ltd, the IPOs of Ecobank Ghana Ltd and Golden Star Resources, and the issue of the Government of Ghana’s Golden Jubilee Savings Bonds. SAS has also facilitated acquisitions including the acquisition of Mobil Oil Ghana Limited by Total Ghana Limited followed by a merger of the two companies to form Total Petroleum Ghana Limited. SAS also conducted the merger between Guinness Ghana Limited and Ghana Breweries Limited to form Guinness Ghana Breweries Limited”.
Interestingly, while the Nana Otuo Siriboe led Council of State claimed that the meeting between it and the Minority, didn’t take place, The Herald sources insisted that the meeting actually took place on Monday, but was brief because the Council, claimed that the secret nature of the meeting, had been compromised, therefore, called off.
The Herald picked up intelligence that the numerous petitions against the US$2.25 billion Franklin Templeton Investments’ Bond, especially the one filed at the U.S.A Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate the matter, is grinding the Ghanaian economy to a halt.
Present at the meeting on the side of the Council of State was its Chairman, Nana Otuo Siriboe, Adjiri Blankson, Mrs. Margaret Amoakohene and Yaw Agyenim Boateng among others.
On the side of the Minority were the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu and North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa.
The Minority were accompanied by Lee Ocran, a Vice-Chairperson of the NDC and Kofi Attor, a leading member of the party in-charge of International Relations.
Lee Ocran and Kofi Attor, were the two representatives of the party to meeting.
Wa East MP, Albert Adongo, who was part of the meeting, could not attend as a result of other engagements, but he has confirmed that those who took part in the meeting, have briefed him on its outcome.
Mr. Adongo, one of the leading voices on the bond, assured those interested in the matter that under no circumstance was the Minority going to withdraw the petitions against the $2.25 billion Franklin Templeton Investments’ bond.
The details are that a Council of State member called Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa to request a meeting, saying that the Council appreciates the conflict of interest and insider trading arguments, but the matter is taking international dimensions and affecting the economy adversely.
The NDC Minority, told the Council to officially write to them, but on Monday, the Chairman of Council of State, called and asked that about five members of the minority, should come for an initial meeting.
The Minority communicated with some elders of the NDC, including Ato Ahwoi, Kwamina Ahwoi, Kwesi Ahwoi, Kwame Peprah, Edward Doe Adjaho, Totobi Quakyi and others, who said the meeting should be shifted to Friday, to allow them to strategize.
A decision was taken that, a committee be setup to go and simply listen to the Council, but under no circumstance would the petitions be withdrawn.
However, the Council of State said Friday, was not good for them, so instead it should be Monday. They were shocked to see the story in The Informer newspaper on the day of the meeting.
At the meeting on Monday, the 5-member Minority group, waited at the reception, while the Council of State were having an internal battle as to whether to go ahead with the meeting since they didn’t feel safe.
When the group was finally invited into the meeting, every member of Council of State had The Informer newspaper. They were very offended and didn’t think they should proceed with the discussions.
The NDC group, explained that they had nothing to do with the publication, but Council of State ended the meeting and subsequently issued a statement denying the meeting and suggested The Informer had lied.
The statement released by the Council of State and signed by its Acting Secretary, Mrs. Peace A.P. Okantey, claimed “there had been no meeting between the Council of State and any minority group.”
Meanwhile, The Daily Post newspaper, has described the press statement as “undoubtedly mischievous” and explained that The Informer story, did not claim a meeting had taken place, but rather that it was going to take place. And indeed, it did take place, a source at the secretariat of the Council of State told this paper”.
A 7-member committee from the NDC member of Haruna Iddrisu, Samuel Okudzeto, Albert Adongo, Ato Forson, Lee Ocran, Kofi Attor and one other was to meet the committee, but was scaled down to 5 members on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Finance Minister is begging for time to respond to the queries from the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) on the bond issue.
Brogya Genfi of Kumasi, had filed a petition at CHRAJ.
Lawyer Victor Adawudu, who also requested for some detail information on the Bond from Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Gloria Akuffo, has also described as baffling the revelation that some information he wanted on the bond, was not available to her.
Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Gloria Akuffo, had been on the board of the Enterprise Group and had resigned days before the record-breaking US$2.25billion was arranged and brokered within hours.