The Minister for Justice and Attorney General-designate, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, has indicated that the Agyapa transaction to monetise some of Ghana’s gold royalties was done in the national interest and in accordance with the laws of the land.
With over two hours of his marathon six hours and forty-five minutes vetting devoted to Agyapa Royalties, Mr. Dame took his time to argue that the Finance Minister, his deputy, and promoters of Agyapa were unfairly criticised in the controversial report of the Special Prosecutor.
The Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, who is also a lawyer, seemed visibly surprised when the nominee stated that Mr Martin Amidu did not interview Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, his deputy, Mr Charles Adu Boahen and anybody else involved with the transaction before he concluded his damning report on the transaction in October last year.
Mr Dame told the Appointments Committee of Parliament last Friday that at every step of the way, the Ministry of Finance and, for that matter the government, put the interest of the nation first and not the interests of any individual, organisation or group of persons.
“Mr Chairman, with all respect, I don’t see any vitiating factor with regard to the transaction,” he said.
The Special Prosecutor, on his own, called for documents covering the transaction and completed what he called an anti-corruption risk and risk of corruption assessment on the deal done under the mandate of the Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF), which was set up by an Act of Parliament passed in 2018.
The former Deputy Attorney under President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s first term, invited parliamentarians to ignore the indicting aspects of the report because the whole exercise was undertaken not as a criminal investigation but an “assessment” and one that breached the basic natural justice rule of allowing the one under scrutiny to be heard.
He described Mr Amidu’s report as a mere “opinion” of no direct legal effect.
Addressing one of the observations of the report, which has to do with whether or not the country’s laws were breached because the Deputy Minister of Finance then, Charles Adu Boahen, was the one who signed for and on behalf of the government, instead of the substantive Minister, Mr Ofori-Atta, quoting from statutes, Mr Dame explained that the law gives authority to the Finance Minister to allow his deputy or any other person not below the rank of Director that the minister might authorise.
“The capacity to execute a financial agreement has been indicated in the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act, 921). In there, you find that Mr Chairman, the capacity is given to the Minister for Finance or any person that the Minister of Finance may authorise,” Mr Dame said.
“In the light of this, it becomes quite clear that the Deputy Minister of Finance, if he was authorised by the Minister of Finance, has full capacity to enter into the agreement,” the Attorney General-designate added.
Parliamentary approval not required
A major subject of disagreement pertaining to the corruption risk assessment carried out by the then Special Prosecutor (SP), is his findings that the Mandate Agreement between the lead transaction advisor, Imara, and its local partner, Databank Group, was unconstitutional because it should be treated as “an international transaction” and, by that, required the approval of Parliament.
Mr Dame disagreed, arguing that the transaction advisory role was not the main transaction but an agreement to build the structure and building blocks towards the ultimate objective of listing the Agyapa Royalties Company on both the London and Accra stock markets.
“I will submit finally that to the extent that Parliament had considered and approved the substantive agreement itself, the primary agreement being the Minerals Royalties Agreement, other agreements like the approval of a transaction advisor ought not to have come before this honourable house for approval,” the Minister for Justice-designate told the 26-member committee of Parliament.
Mr Dame maintained that a contract to facilitate the main transaction could not be viewed as a major transaction regardless of the fees.
Imara and its local partner, Databank, stood to earn a percentage of the amount raised for the listing as success fee capped at $4m to be shared between the two.
Imara is on a $15,000 monthly retainer, which the contract states will be deducted from the success fee at the end of Initial Public Offering (IPO).
Databank’s partnership deal with Imara excluded the Ghanaian entity from the monthly retainer, and billed to be paid at the end of the floatation in success fee.