The Finance Minister-Designate, Ken Ofori-Atta has hit back at accusations that government erred in selecting his cousin, Gabby Otchere-Darko’s law firm, as part of the legal advisors for the Agyapa Mineral Royalties transaction.
Answering a question during his vetting on Friday, the Minister-Designate stated that government did nothing wrong in choosing the Africa Legal & Associates and other law firms as legal advisors on the deal.
He stated that although he did not take a personal role in the selection process, he trusts that the Attorney General’s Department did a thorough in its assessment.
“Mr Chairman, I think that the process was as far as I know, because I did not participate personal participate in all of that, the transaction was done appropriately and I believe the AG was quite comprehensive in assessing whether the right thing was done or not.
“Whatever needs to be done, was done. I mean, I truly do not think that anything was done wrongly. I believe things were done appropriately and therefore, maybe an AG opinion will be helpful to you,” he informed the Appointments Committee.
Mr Ofori-Atta further explained that government first procured the legal service of an international law firm, which subsequently hired the service of two local firms, including that of Mr Otchere-Darko.
“White & Case LLP International Law Firm was the firm procured in which they then had Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah and Africa Legal Associates. I don’t know whether they are sub-contractors. But certainly, it wasn’t direct procurement of to any local law firm,” he added.
The Agyapa Royalties deal generated so much interest from several quarters because of the alleged controversies of conflict of interest, amongst others.
Some 15 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) under the umbrella name Alliance of CSOs working on Extractive, Anti-Corruption and Good Governance also demanded the immediate suspension of the implementation of the controversial Special Purpose Vehicle, Agyapa Royalties Limited established by government through the Minerals Income Investment Fund.
Following that, former Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu in a Corruption Risk Assessment report disclosed some anomalies detected in government’s transaction with the Agyapa Minerals Royalties Limited.
He stated that there was reasonable suspicion of bid-rigging and corruption activity in the selection process of the deal. He added that the arrangements lacked transparency.
In November 2020, the President directed the then Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta to send the deal back to Parliament after the Assessment.
Having considered all concerns on the matter, Mr Ofori-Atta assured the Committee that government’s new Mineral Royalty Transaction to be re-submitted to Parliament intends to build a national consensus in the interest of the nation.
“My expectation Mr Chairman is the resubmission of the transaction to Parliament which will enable us to go through this in an even more comprehensive way to do that and whatever report required should be provided.
“I am really being careful about the issue of innovation and ensuring that we don’t bastardise something that is good for the Republic of Ghana. And so, the processes, if there are issues, [we] will come back to Parliament and go through that. But I think our eyes should be on the ball of a nation that is diversifying how it get resources to go forward,” he said.