Nothing untoward happened with gov't's $2bn bond issue – Oppong-Nkrumah

Nothing untoward happened with gov't's $2bn bond issue – Oppong-Nkrumah
Source: Ghana | | Abubakar Ibrahim |
Date: 18-04-2017 Time: 10:04:49:pm

Deputy Information Minister Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah says "nothing untoward" happened with the $2.25 billion bond issued by government to arrest Ghana's suffocating debt burden.

Speaking to Joy News, he said the issues raised by the minority in Parliament over the bond are aimed at taking the shine away from the successes chalked by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo within 100 days in power.

The Minority at a news conference in Accra Tuesday called for a Parliamentary probe into a local bond issued by government in March 2017.

Former Deputy Finance Minister, Cassiel Ato Forson, who addressed the press conference said the bond had only two investors taking part in it, adding, it was “shrouded in secrecy to the extent that Ghanaian investors were denied the opportunity to participate in the deal.”

Ato Forson raised conflict of interest allegations against the Finance Minister  Ken Ofori Atta.

According to him, Trevor G. Trefgarne, a director at Franklyn Templeton, the institution that bought 95% of the bond is also a Director at Enterprise Group Limited, a company Mr Ken Ofori-Atta is co-founder of.

He claimed Trevor may have influenced the manner in which the bond was issued.

Cassiel Ato Forson, said the deal requires parliamentary inquiry and chided the minister for putting himself in a conflict of interest position. 

He threatened to proceed to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) which is the "conflict of interest jurisdiction" if the Parliamentary probe is not satisfactory.

However, Joy News' checks revealed that contrary to claims by Ato Forson that Mr Trefgarne was named as a Board of Director in a December 31 2016 audited document by the  Franklyn Templeton Investment Funds, his name was no where to be found in that document.  

Rather his name was listed as a Board of Director in the 2012 edition of that same document. 

Reacting to the claims by the NDC, Mr Oppong-Nkrumah said the allegations by the minority are baseless and lack merit.

“Mr Forson said they have reason to believe [that there was conflict of interest situation], what reason?" he quizzed.

“If you look at our debt profile in times past, as far back as 2016, the Franklin Templeton, which is one of the organisations which took up the second bond issued in March has been taking up government bonds," he explained.

Mr Oppong-Nkrumah said the Templeton Investment Limited absorbed about "GH2 billion of Ghana’s debt prior to the recent transaction."

He said the March bond issue was not done under any secrecy, but openly announced and issued to which the Templeton organisation had a series of engagement with the Central Bank, Finance Ministry, IMF, World Bank and their local brokers.

"For anybody to suggest that something untoward happened simply because Trefgarne who is a shareholder in Enterprise also happens to be a shareholder of one of Franklin Templeton's funds and was in no way associated with this deal and proceed to say that just because that something untoward has happened is a bit disappointing," he said. 

He said if the minority wants a bi-partisan parliamentary probe, they can go ahead and make a case on the floor of parliament and they are also at liberty to go to CHRAJ.