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Explosive Revelations: Agyapa Royalties Scandal Exposes Ghana to a Potential $12 Million Loss”

The Herald, has obtained additional documents from the British tax haven of Jersey related to the controversial Agyapa Royalties deal, which last week once again popped up at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament, exposing a potential financial loss to Ghana amounting to a staggering US$12 million.

The documents from the records of the Jersey’s Company Registry, shed light on a transaction that led to the resignation of Ghana’s first Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, after calling President Akufo-Addo, “the mother serpent of corruption”.

The US$12 million might just be the tip of the iceberg as the Auditor-General has, according to Kofi Adams, the Member of Parliament of Buem and a member of PAC, not captured the Agyapa Royalties deal in his report three years since it collapsed.

The Memoranda of Association, as per The Herald’s obtained documents, revealed that Agyapa Royalties was registered as a private company under Jersey’s Companies (Jersey) Law 1991, limited by share, a par value company with an unrestricted corporate capacity limited. Intriguingly, the Mineral Income Investment Fund (MIIF) is linked to Agyapa with the address given as Ministry of Finance, Finance Drive Accra, Ghana.

The revelations indicate a potential misappropriation of a substantial US$12 million from the state’s funds, even though the gains were not realized. Legal analysts are viewing this deal as one of several instances that could prompt future criminal investigations and potential prosecutions for causing financial losses to the state.

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Africa Legal Associates, a law firm owned by Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, played an active role in this controversial deal, including the choice of the name Asaase Royalties which was later changed to Agyapa Royalties.

The documents obtained by The Herald list the names of Ghanaians involved, including Yaw Baah, Felicia Ashley, and George Mireku Duker, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tarkwa-Nsuaem.

Foreign individuals such as Tom Williamson, Donna Laverty, and James Bore, are also mentioned as playing various roles in attempting to collateralize Ghana’s minerals using Agyapa Royalties.

There was a groundswell of controversies over Agyapa Royalities’ conflicts of interest situation, as well as concerns that Ghana was not going to get value for money in the transactions. The Akufo-Addo government, had to remain tight-lipped on the names of directors and their nationalities.

For instance, the company registered in a tax haven, was to be managed by Kofi Bosompem Osafo-Maafo, the son of ex-Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Marfo and a Deputy Director-General at the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) in charge of Investment & Development.

The Akufo-Addo government, have engaged the services of Britain-based White & Case LLP International Law Firm, which included Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah, and Africa Legal Associates owned by Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, a cousin of the President, Nana Akufo-Addo.

In a surprising turn of events, in February 2021, the then Finance Minister-designate, Ken Ofori-Atta’s investment and brokerage firm, Databank, withdrew as a financial advisor in the Agyapa royalties deal.

Databank, along with Imara Holding Limited of South Africa, had jointly served as transaction advisors for the monetization of Ghana’s gold royalties through the dual listing of the Agyapa Gold Royalties Company on the Ghana and London Stock Exchanges.

According to documents from Jersey, the idea for Agyapa Royalties was conceived in October 2019, with the Jersey Financial Service Commission assisting in the company’s setup.

Originally established as Asaase Royalties Limited, it later changed its name to Agyapa Royalties Limited on August 10, 2020.

Records from the Jersey Company Registry, show Agyapa’s registration number as 130211, dating back to November 05, 2019, when it was established as Asaase Royalties Limited.

The share capital of Agyapa Royalties is divided into 500,000,000 ordinary shares of USD 0.01 each.

On August 10, 2020, another certificate of incorporation surfaced, changing the company’s name, while maintaining its registered number as 130211, according to the Registrar of Companies in Jersey Channel Island.

The Registrar of Companies in Jersey Channel Island certified this change, stating, “I hereby certify that Asaase Royalties Limited…having changed its name by special resolution, has today been entered on the Register of Companies incorporated in Jersey as a private company having the name of Agyapa Royalties Limited. Dated this 10 August 202”.

Ghanaians involved in the deal, as listed in the documents, include Yaw Baah, Felicia Ashley, and George Mireku Duker. However, an anomaly arises as George Mireku Duker’s role as the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Ministry, was not identified in the documents. He rather mentioned his role as the MP for Tarkwa-Nsuaem, and address as Parliament House.

While, Tom Williamson was captured as secretary to the company in another document dated January 2, 2020, one other document had names such as Donna Laverty and James Bore, and identified them as authorized signatories.

Last week, The CEO of MIIF, Edward Nana Yaw Koranteng, disclosed to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament that the Akufo-Addo government spent US$12 million on the failed Agyapa royalties deal.

The Agyapa Royalties deal, which aimed to generate funds for crucial infrastructure projects through mineral royalties, was halted by President Nana Akufo-Addo in 2021, following concerns raised by civil society groups, experts and some members of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Before its cancellation, US$12 million had already been utilised for its initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

During the session on Tuesday, February 13, 2024, Mr Koranteng informed PAC that the Ministry of Finance, had subscribed to the deal based on advice from international consultants.

“My understanding, honourable chair, is that the Ministry of Finance procured the services of international consultancy and companies and financial institutions that have done this in the past and that the advice provided was what the Ministry of Finance stood on.”

“We started with the Ministry of Finance and from the documents that we have, it is clear that the correct advice was provided on the set-up of a gold royalties company where the streaming of the royalties would benefit Ghana,” he added.

A member of the PAC and MP Buem, Kofi Adams, has since spoken on the matter, saying the committee was oblivious to the government’s $12 million expenditure on the suspended Agyapa royalties deal.

The Akufo-Addo government proposed the deal on the claim of raising funds through mineral royalties for key infrastructure projects but was eventually suspended after some civil society organizations and key individuals including Fui Tsikata and Kofi Ansah, lawyers and mineral experts opposed it.

Mr Adams in an interview on Eyewitness NewsonCiti FM on Tuesday, said that the committee was ignorant of the expenditure and that a public interest question had led to that revelation made by the MIIF CEO.

He noted that the Auditor General’s report, had also not captured that expenditure.

“This is the very first time that we all are being provided with this information that the country actually wasted $12 million of its money at the time we have been told that the country was faced with a number of challenges in chasing after a ghost. And that the president and all those who considered this whole deal never informed all of us that $12 million of our money had already been funded into a project that didn’t have the permission of appropriate bodies,” he stated.

He further said “According to the CEO of MIIF, the Ministry of Finance gave them the go-ahead to go into such an investment and that in taking a decision to stop, they were not involved. And that he could not even provide us with the reasons why the decision to stop was taken. And according to him, the letter to stop was sent to the Attorney General, who looked at it and advised. They as MIIF were not involved in any way in terms of stoppage. And truly speaking this was the first time. And this was not even in the Auditor General’s report but this was out of a public interest question…A member wanted to know about the Agyapa deal and the recent investment in the lithium found in the central region.”

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