The Ashanti Regional Youth Organiser of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Yaw Brogya Genfi, has petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), in his capacity as a citizen of Ghana, to investigate the recent $2.25 billion bond issued by the government of Ghana.
Mr Genfi’s petition follows assertions by the Minority in Parliament that Mr Trevor G. Trefgarne, a director at Franklin Templeton, the institution that bought 95 per cent of the bond, is also a Director at Enterprise Group Limited, a company which Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta is co-founder, thus, raising issues of transparency, conflict of interest, and suspicion.
Following the allegations, Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia said the Minority were displaying ignorance about economic issues and asked them to do a little reading to cure their ignorance.
Below is Mr Yaw Brogya Genfi’s full petition:
April 25, 2017
COMMISSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS & ADMINISTRATIVE JUSTICE (CHRAJ), ACCRA
PETITION TO INVESTIGATE CONFLICT OF INTEREST IN THE RECENT US$2.25 BILLION BOND ISSUED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF GHANA THROUGH THE MINSTRY OF FINANCE
On April 3, 2017, the Ministry of Finance announced that the Government of Ghana had issued a 15-year and 7-year bond at a coupon rate of 19.75% each. The said issuance raised a total amount of USD1.13 billion. In addition, the Ministry of Finance raised the cedi equivalent of USD1.12 billion in 5-year and 10-year bonds via a tap arrangement.
A number of issues of conflict of interest and lack of transparency have emerged from the bond issuance. It is imperative that the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) investigates same to protect the national interest as per its mandate under article 218 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.
There is credible information in the public domain as follows:
1. One single investor, Franklin Templeton Investment Limited, purchased almost 95% of the Bond issued by the Minister for Finance. The size of this virtual “private placement” makes it akin to a sovereign bond or foreign loan.
2. The virtual “private placement” approach that was used was opened in the morning and closed in the evening of the same day March 31, 2017.
3. Franklin Templeton Investment Limited is an American global investment management organization founded in 1947.
4. In an unaudited semi-annual report of Franklin Templeton Investment Limited dated December 31, 2016, Mr. Trevor G. Trefgarne was named as one of the Directors of the its board.
5. In the same report, Trevor G. Trefgarne was also described as the Chairman of Enterprise Group Limited.
6. The Enterprise Group Limited is a company partially owned by Data Bank Limited, a company in which the Finance Minister is known to have significant interest.
7. The following are also Directors of the Enterprise Group Ltd. – Dr. Angela Ofori Atta, wife of the Finance Minister, Keli Gadzekpo, business partner of the Finance Minister, Hon. Gloria Akuffo, Attorney-General & Minister for Justice and Hon. Ken Ofori Atta, the Minister for Finance himself.
1. The 7-year and 15-year Bonds were not on the issuance calendar.
2. The initial pricing guidelines of the Bond were issued around 5:37pm on March 30, 2017, by e-mail, which is after normal working hours.
3. The transaction was opened at 9.00am on March 31, 2017.
4. The public announcement of the transaction was sent by e-mail at approximately 9:09am on the March 31, 2017, which means the transaction was opened before the announcement was made to the public.
5. The issuance summary was issued on March 31, 2017, at about 4:20pm by e-mail indicating that the Bond transaction had been closed and announcement made to the public
6. April 3, 2017, was the Settlement Date and not the closing date of the Bond.
1. From the points above, a reasonable person has cause to believe that there is a relational interest between Hon. Ken Ofori Atta and Mr. Trevor G. Trefgarne, who have been described as ‘great friends’.
2. The clear link between the Finance Minister and his friend Trevor Trefgarne, and the sub-links with the Finance Minister’s family and business associates, leads to legitimate questions like
1. did the Finance Minister issue the bond in a manner that would favour his friend, family, associates and/or business partners;
2. was the deal influenced by cronyism, nepotism and corruption.
3. The Bond transaction seems to have been shrouded in secrecy – the process was limited to one day, unlike past bonds where the “book-building” method had been used and the process was opened for a minimum of three days to ensure optimal participation.
4. There is no record available to the effect that the Finance Minister disclosed his relational interest in the transaction.
Please note further
19. On Monday, April 3, 2017, the Ministry of Finance issued a statement announcing that the Ministry of Finance had “successfully issued 15 and 7 year bonds with the same coupon rate of 19.75%, raising a total amount of USD1.13 billion. In addition, the Ministry of Finance raised the cedi equivalent USD1.12 billion in 5 and 10 year bonds via a tap arrangement’ – a copy of the statement is attached marked ‘A’
20. It was reported by Reuters that “a senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Franklin Templeton had participated in the sale”, and that “Franklin Templeton’s high-profile bond fund manager, Dr Michael Hasenstab has taken a “substantial” position in Ghana’s cedi-denominated government bonds” – a copy is attached marked ‘B’
• On April 18, 2017, the Minority in Parliament held a Press Conference and raised serious questions of conflict of interest, transparency and lack of Parliamentary approval – a copy of the statement is attached marked ‘C’.
1. On April 19, 2017, the Ministry of Finance issued a response – a copy is attached marked ‘D’.
2. On April 20, 2017, the Minority in Parliament issued a response – a copy is attached marked ‘E’
3. On April 18, 2017, the Attorney-General & Minister for Justice on a radio station (Citi FM) indicated that she resigned from the Enterprise Group on April 1, 2017, and that she had no knowledge of the bond arrangement – a copy of the audio recording can be accessed from Citi FM. However, the Ministry of Finance records show that the bond process was opened and closed on March 31, 2017.
• On April 19, 2017, a Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon. Abena Osei Asare, on a radio station (Citi FM – Point Blank, Eye Witness News), indicated that once the Minister for Finance had declared his assets under the Declaration of Assets Act this meant that he had disclosed his interest in the matter – a copy of the audio recording can be accessed from Citi FM. It is, however, trite knowledge that declaration of assets forms filed with the Auditor-General’s Department are confidential until processes are executed that allow for their content to be exposed, and therefore cannot constitute disclosure of interest in this matter.
• On April 20, 2017, the Vice President, H.E. Mahamudu Bawumia, in an interview in Washington DC where he was attending the World Bank’s Spring meeting, described the Minority as ‘ignorant’ but failed to answer the questions raised by the Minority in Parliament on the matter – a copy of the report can be accessed from Graphic Online.
2. On April 21, 2017, Dr. John Gatsi (Head of Finance Department, University of Cape Coast) published an article entitled ‘What is External Borrowing in the context of the issuance of the US$2.25 Billion Euro Bond and Ghana’s Public Borrowing Guidelines’ – a copy is attached marked ‘F’.
Some Relevant Laws, Regulations & Guidelines 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana
“Article 284 – A public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts or is likely to conflict with the performance of the functions of his office.”
In line with my duties as a citizen of this nation, and in light of the above, I have no option than to petition CHRAJ for an investigation into the matter and the application of the necessary sanctions.
I am confident of your ability to investigate this matter thoroughly, dispassionately and in a non-partisan manner to help us reach a just conclusion.
Yours in the Service of the Nation
YAW BROGYA GYAMFI
CITIZEN OF GHANA