The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has said calls for the identity of ‘Government Official 1’ in the Airbus scandal to be revealed are needless.

Communications Officer of the party, Sammy Gyamfi at a press conference on Monday said if there was anyone like that, the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) which investigated the case would have said so in its report.

“Instead, they carefully chose the words “intended to induce” without more. And there is no indication that this intention was actualised.

“Therefore, to the extent that the said, “Government Official 1” is not cited for any offence in any of the approved judgements, his or her identity is totally immaterial,” he said.

Ghana is one of five countries in which the European aviation giant, Airbus, paid or attempted to pay millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for contracts, leading a court in Britain to slap a fine of £3 billion on the company.

In court documents and hearings, Airbus admitted five counts of failing to prevent bribery, using a network of secret agents to pay large-scale backhanders to officials in foreign countries, including Ghana, to land high-value contracts.

The scheme was run by a unit at Airbus’ French headquarters, which its one-time chief executive, Tom Enders, reportedly called “bullshit castle”.

Read the full dossier on Ghana below

Under the agreement, the British SFO agreed to suspend the prosecution of Airbus for a period of three years. If Airbus complies with the terms of the agreement within the period, the prosecution will be discontinued. 

The mention of Ghana in the agreement has sparked a flurry of political activity with the opposition NDC issuing a statement denying that its officials in the erstwhile Mills and Mahama administrations were involved in any corruption with Airbus, which supplied military aircraft to Ghana in 2012. 

The deferred prosecution agreement didn’t specifically name any officials who might have been bribed or corrupted during Ghana’s negotiations with Airbus but it refers to personalities involved as Government Official 1 (a high-ranking elected public figure) and Intermediary 5 (a British national and close relative of Government Official 1), among others. 

The governing New Patriotic Party believes the person referred to as Government Official One is former President John Mahama.

Former Deputy Education Minister under the Mahama administration, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has denied the former president’s involvement in the saga.

At the press conference, Sammy Gyamfi said there is no finding in any of the approved judgments that Ghana lost any money through the said transactions.

“No such finding is contained in any of the approved judgments. The fact is, government of Ghana paid fair commercial value for the aircraft and was not in any way shortchanged. Indeed, the Ghana Airforce conducted its own independent technical and financial evaluation of the transactions in line with best practices of the Military.”

He added “there is no finding in any of the approved judgements that the transactions and the processes leading to same, violated any law.

“In fact, the first transaction under which success-based commission was paid by Airbus to their intermediaries, adhered to the Public Procurement law and received the legal opinion of the then-Attorney General before it was finally approved by the August House of Parliament.”

Below is a copy of the statement:

THE AIRBUS SCANDAL

Ladies and gentlemen of the press,

Last Sunday, the much-respected former Attorney General, Mrs. Marietta Brew Appiah- Opong issued a statement that primarily sought to correct the mischievous twist to the approved judgements of the Crown Court of Southwark and the District Court of Columbia involving Airbus SE. She basically stated, that reports by a section of the media that Airbus paid bribes to the government of Ghana between 2009 and 2015 are false and do not reflect the Approved Judgements.

Ladies and gentlemen, the said investigation was triggered by a complaint from competitors of Airbus over suspected violation of OECD rules by the company. A careful reading of the approved judgments of the Crown Court of Southwark and the District Court of Columbia on the matter shows that the entire case is about legal infractions by employees and agents of Airbus and nothing more.

According to the approved judgments of the Crown Court of Southwark and the District Court of

Columbia:

– Airbus on their own accord, engaged intermediaries or better still hired agents to help them sell military aircraft to Ghana between the years 2009 and 2015.

– While the use of agents or business partners is common practice with multinational companies, the approved judgments held that Airbus failed to follow OECD rules in appointing their business intermediaries.

– The approved judgments further found that payment by Airbus of success-based commission to their intermediaries was in excess of the agreed 5% commission as captured in the transaction Agreement.

– Whereas, there have been claims that success-based commissions were paid to agents of Airbus with the intent to induce or reward improper favour by the said “government official 1”, it is instructive to note, that there is no indication either in the approved judgments of the Crown Court of Southwark or the District Court of Columbia that any such inducement took place.

Now let’s be clear about the facts:

First, no ex-government official of Ghana is cited in any part of the approved judgments for receiving a bribe or committing any offense. In fact, not even the unnamed “government official 1” is cited in the report or approved judgement for demanding or receiving a bribe or for committing any offense.

This point becomes even clearer when juxtaposed with the facts narrated in the approved judgment of the Crown Court of Southwark with regard to countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan, where the UK SFO made findings on how bribes were actually disbursed to senior executives of Airline companies.

We can state with a large degree of certainty that the UK SFO would have stated that bribes were paid to the said “government official 1” if they had found so in their investigations. Instead, they carefully chose the words “intended to induce” without more. And there is no indication that this intention was actualized.

Therefore, to the extent that the said “government official 1” is not cited for any offense in any of the approved judgements, his or her identity is totally immaterial.

Second, there is no finding in any of the approved judgments that Ghana lost any money through the said transactions. No such finding is contained in any of the approved judgments. The fact is, government of Ghana paid fair commercial value for the aircraft and was not in any way shortchanged. Indeed, the Ghana Airforce conducted its own independent technical and financial evaluation of the transactions in line with best practices of the Military.

Third, there is no finding in any of the approved judgements that the transactions and the processes leading to same, violated any law. In fact, the first transaction under which success-based commission was paid by Airbus to their intermediaries, adhered to the Public Procurement law and received the legal opinion of the then-Attorney General before it was finally approved by the August House of Parliament.

Additionally, there is no finding in any of the approved judgements, that the government of Ghana or any government official, engaged the services of or paid any monies to any intermediary relative to the said transactions. Therefore, any infractions arising from the engagement and payment of intermediaries by Airbus SE are entirely its business.

Distinguished friends from the media, it is clear from the foregoing that, the whole Airbus case is about legal infractions by employees and agents of Airbus, a private company. Foreign companies that do business with Ghana have their own internal modus operandi. The nature of the infractions committed by Airbus SE as contained in the approved judgments is such that, the government of Ghana could not have known at the time of the transaction.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The indecent haste with which Yaw Buaben Asamoa of the NPP jumped to pass judgement on the NDC was pathetic and most reckless to say the least. No serious-minded person would draw conclusions based on conjecture and willful misinterpretation of the Approved Judgement of the UK Crown Court. And so we treat with contempt his statements and those of other NPP hirelings who may have thought wrongly that this was an opportunity for political equalization.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Airbus matter is nothing like the recent conclusively established corruption cases, such as the doling out of a whopping GHS136 million for the private hotel project of the in-law of President Akufo-Addo, Dr. Nyantakyi, the missing excavators’ scandal, the missing 400 tricycles scandal, just to mention a few.

The NPP should be reminded that multiple Ambassadors from Western nations have in recent times publicly decried the alarming spate of corruption under President Akufo-Addo. Strangely, President Akufo-Addo only a few weeks ago shamelessly warned ambassadors and foreign envoys in Ghana not to speak publicly about the alarming heights corruption has reached under his administration.

Whether it was the Ameri-Mytelinous scandal in which President Akufo-Addo gave executive approval for a deal which was inflated by an amount of US$800 million or the BOST scandal where five (5) million liters of contaminated fuel was illegally sold to unlicensed businesses and the proceeds misappropriated, or the PPA scandal or the Australia Visa Fraud scandal or the “#12” scandal or Galamsey Fraud” scandal, or the PDS scandal which caused this nation a huge financial loss of US$190 million, President Akufo-Addo has proven to be the biggest enabler and promoter of corruption in the history of Ghana.

This fact is buttressed by the latest Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of Transparency International, in which Ghana dropped two (2) places and the recent Afrobarometer findings by CDD-GH, that 53% of Ghanaians think corruption has worsened under the Akufo-Addo-led government.

In all this, it is important to remind the NPP that per the latest CPI of Transparency International, the most reputable and internationally recognized corruption index, President Akufo-Addo’s best score of 41 points is far worse than President Mahama’s worst score of 43 points which was recorded in the year 2016 before the NDC exited office.