Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister for Finance

The Supreme Court yesterday dismissed a suit, which accused the Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, of procedural error and conflict of interest in the issuance of a $2.25 billion Eurobond in 2017.

In a unanimous decision, a seven-member panel of the highest court of the land, presided over by Chief Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, described the suit as unmeritorious.

The panel included Justices Jones Dotse, Baffoe-Bonnie, Sule Gbadegbe, Yaw Appau, Gabriel Pwamang, Samuel Marfo-Sau and Professor Nii Ashie Kotey.

Chief Justice Anin-Yeboah who announced the decision of the apex court said the details of the ruling will be made available today.

A pro-National Democratic Congress (NDC) group, Dynamic Youth Movement of Ghana (DYMOG) dragged the Finance Minister, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and Attorney General to the Supreme Court over CHRAJ’s investigations into the $2.25 billion bond issuance.

The group led by former NDC Ashanti Regional Youth Organiser Brogya Gyenfi, invoked the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to interpret Article 284 of the 1992 constitution which states that, “A public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts or is likely to conflict with the performance of the functions of his office”.

It contended that the Finance Minister Ofori-Atta in issuing the bond to Franklin Templeton, put himself in a conflict of interest situation as one of the directors of the US-based investment group, Trevor Trefgarne was also a director of a company owned by the Minister.

NDC’s faux pas

It would be recalled that the Minority NDC in Parliament filed a petition with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the United States of America (USA) to investigate a possible conflict of interest in the issuance of the $2.25 billion bond issue.

A statement signed and issued by Minority Leader Mr Haruna Iddrisu said the petition was filed with the Enforcement Division of the SEC in Washington DC on May 1, 2017 on behalf of the Minority by its Ranking Member on Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa.

In their conflict of interest allegations, members of the minority suggested that a non-executive director on the board of Investment Firm, Franklin Templeton, who purchased 95 percent of the $2.25 billion bond, was also the Chairman of the Enterprise Group, which had links to the Attorney-General and the Minister for Finance.

However, the petition died on arrival, pushing DYMOG to take the matter to CHRAJ and eventually seek reliefs at the Supreme Court.

Reliefs sought

The pro-NDC group sought interpretation of Articles 284, 286 of the 1992 Constitution and six other reliefs.

They included a “A declaration that by going beyond investigations to make a pronouncement (of guilt or otherwise) on the 1st Defendant (Ken Ofori-Atta) in respect of the allegation of breach of conflict of interest, the 2nd Defendant (CHRAJ) has contravened Article 287 of the 1992 Constitution.

“A declaration that by interpreting Article 284 of the 1992 Constitution (as disclosed between paragraph 3 of page 127 and paragraph 3 of page 133 of the Report), the 2nd Defendant has contravened Article 130(1)(a) of the 1992 Constitution.

“…A consequential order that the content of the report as specified in reliefs (a) and (b) above be expunged from the Report.

“A declaration that the failure of the 1st Defendant to declare his shareholding interests in Data Bank Financial Services Limited, Data Bank Brokerage Limited and Data Bank Financial Holdings Limited to the Auditor-General before taking office as Minister of Finance, as found by the 2nd Defendant on page 120 of the Report, contravenes Article 286(1)(a) of the 1992 Constitution.

“A declaration that the occupation by the 1st Defendant of the office of a director in Ventures and Acquisition Limited, a private company, while in office as the Minister responsible for finance without the due permission of the Right Honourable Speaker of Parliament on the grounds stated by the law”.