Former President John Dramani Mahama

It appears the gargantuan £3 billion bribery scandal involving Airbus, Europe’s largest aircraft manufacturer, has ruffled the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) ahead of the 2020 general election.

NDC spin doctors have been running from one FM station to another since the exposé, to parry strong allegations that their presidential candidate, former President John Dramani Mahama has been complicit in the massive scandal.

Airbus admitted paying huge bribes in order to secure contracts in many countries including Ghana, under the erstwhile Mills-Mahama administration.

Consequently, the company was found guilty by a High Court in London, United Kingdom (UK) and is to pay a fine of £3 billion as penalties.

Dame Victoria Sharp, who is the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, approved the settlement struck with the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

It was revealed that between 2009 and 2015 an Airbus Defence company engaged Intermediary 5, a close relative of a high ranking elected Ghanaian Government official 1 (GO 1), which many analysts deduced to be former President John Mahama, as its BP in respect of the proposed sale of three military transport aircrafts to the Government of Ghana.

Documents from the London court also revealed that a number of Airbus employees knew that Intermediary 5 was a close relative of Government Official 1, who was a key decision maker in respect of the proposed sales.

Again, some Airbus employees made or promised success-based commission payments of approximately €5 million to Intermediary 5.

False documentation was also created by or with the agreement of Airbus employees in order to support and disguise these payments.

The payments were intended to induce or reward “improper favour” by Government Official 1 towards Airbus.

Consequently, ex-ministers under then President Mahama virtually invaded FM stations yesterday to extricate their boss from the scandal. 

Former Bono/Ashanti regional minister Eric Opoku stormed Accra-based Asempa FM afternoon programme ‘Eko Siisen’, struggling to convince Ghanaians that government official 1, is not former President Mahama.

This was after Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, former Deputy Minister for Education visited the Joy FM’s super morning show on the same mission.

Other former NDC government officials and party executives were all over other FM and television stations on the redemption mission.

President of policy think-tank IMANI Africa, Franklin Cudjoe in a write up, indicated that former President Mahama may lose the 2020 presidential election if he is found culpable in the scandal.

The relentless defence by the NDC bigshots, according to political connoisseurs, is meant ostensibly, to insulate the former president from the political tsunami.

Bribes paid  

Allison Clare, for the SFO, told the court Airbus had paid bribes in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Taiwan and Ghana between 2011 and 2015.

“The planemaker agreed to pay the penalties on Friday after reaching settlements with investigators in the UK, France and the US to end inquiries that started four years ago,” the report stated.

Some 20 countries across the world have been found to have been recipients of these noxious and pestilent bribes from Airbus.

Ghanaian officials, it has emerged from records of the investigations, were allegedly among the countries that took these bribes from Airbus for contracts.

Background

Ghana under late President John Atta-Mills in 2011 and former President John Mahama in 2015, acquired three Airbus C295 planes from the company as part of an effort to augment and modernize the fleet of the Ghana Armed Forces.

It was noted that the first order of the military aeroplane arrived in the country on November 17, 2011, followed by a second on March 19, 2012.

The last order arrived in the country on December 4, 2015.

Then President John Dramani Mahama, in November 2014, announced that Ghana was to acquire an additional C295, in addition to other aircraft, including five Super Tucanos, Mi-17s and four Z-9s.

A total of about $150 million was spent in acquiring three aircraft, one of which overshot the runway recently.

Prosecution on Ghana

The prosecutor in the scandal stated, “Between July 1, 2011, and June 1, 2015, Airbus SE failed to prevent persons associated with Airbus SE from bribing others concerned with the purchase of military transport aircraft by the Government of Ghana, where the said bribery was intended to obtain or retain business or advantage in the conduct of business for Airbus SE.”

Airbus “between 2009 and 2015 engaged intermediary 5, a close relative of a high ranking elected Ghanaian government official (Government Official 1), as its BP in respect of the proposed sale of three aircraft to the government of Ghana. A number of Airbus employees knew that intermediary 5 was a close relative of Government Official 1, a key decision maker in respect of the sales.

A number of Airbus employees made or promised success based commission payments of approximately £5 million to the intermediary. False documentation was created by or with the agreement of Airbus employees in order to support and disguise these payments.

The payments were intended to induce or reward improper favour by the Government Official 1 towards Airbus,” parts of the prosecution case relating to Ghana read.

Intermediary 5, according to the court document, is a UK national born in Ghana.

He was brought to the United Kingdom as a young child and lost touch with his Ghanaian family until the late 1990s. He had no prior experience or expertise in the aerospace industry.

“A CV provided to Airbus in 2011 listed Intermediary 5’s employment before 2009 as an events manager for a local authority, director of a football merchandising company and facilities manager for an estate management business.

“Intermediary 5 was assisted in his Airbus work by two other UK nationals: Intermediary 6 and Intermediary 7.

“Intermediary 6 has publicly described Intermediary 5 as his “best friend”.