Politics

Agyapa deal: Ofori-Atta opens up on going to Martin Amidu’s house

Finance Minister-designate Ken Ofori-Atta has dismissed claims that he visited former Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu at his home during his corruption risk analysis of the Agyapa deal to influence him.

Mr Amidu, who resigned from the post citing interference by the President, noted in a statement that the then Finance Minister visited his home while he was reviewing the possibility of corruption in the controversial mineral royalties deal.

Responding to questions before the Appointments Committee Friday, Mr Ofori-Atta said he visited the home of Mr Amidu because he was told he was unwell.

“Mr Chairman as I have mentioned before I have known the Special Prosecutor for a while. It wasn’t the first time that I was going to his home. Yes, I did visit him. I had gone to the office on a Friday in which they indicated that to me that he was not feeling well and was not at work”.

“So I believe on a Saturday morning the next day I did go to visit him and I saw him. He was not well and that was important for that,” he said.

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He said it was impossible for him to influence the judgment of Mr. Amidu on the Agyapa deal.

He added: “I think we all know that Mr. Amidu is a very independent man and so to ascribe being able to influence him by what you say or not, we as a nation know that [is not possible]. And so I wouldn’t say that that was an attempt to change his views or anything of that matter”.

Amidu was unfair to me

According to Mr Ofori-Atta, the decision by the anti-graft campaigner to put out the report without giving him the opportunity to respond was a disservice to him.

“There is a bit of cynicism around the Agyapa transaction. I think that for Martin Amidu’s report on it to be put out to the public without a chance by people like me to discuss it is a disservice,” Mr Ofori-Atta told Parliament’s appointments committee on Thursday during his vetting.

He added that the Agyapa deal will be resubmitted to parliament for it to be scrutinized before it is passed.

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“We will resubmit it to parliament. The question, in this new normal, is what we do to leverage our natural resources. I hope we all come to terms with how we will capitalize and grow our transformation.”

The former Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu in a report last year described the Agyapa deal as one that was laced with corruption.

In his corruption risk assessment of the controversial deal, Mr. Amidu argued among other things that consultations over the agreement were not comprehensive and innovative enough.

He further disclosed that the selection and appointment of advisors for the agreement did not meet the “fundamentals of probity, transparency and accountability.”

The Special Prosecutor in his report took a swipe at the various officials who took part in the processes leading to the approval of the agreement.

According to him, the actors flouted several laws with impunity prior to the approval of the agreement.

“All the parties to the Mandate Agreement are deemed to have known the law but ignored it with impunity in signing and implementing the Mandate Agreement which is null and void ab initio as violating the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) and the Public Procurement Authority Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) as amended. This conduct which appears to have been in furtherance of the suspected bid-rigging, in the assessment of this Office severely lowered the risk of corruption, and rendered them a low risk enterprise in the Agyapa Royalties Transactions process and their approval.

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“It is with these new lenses that the analysis of the risk of corruption, and anti-corruption assessments of the legality of the engagement of the other services providers and underwriters on the recommendations of the Transaction Advisors acting as the Ministry of Finance’s procurement entity tender committee contrary to Part VI of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) as amended, and Sections 7 and 25 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) afore-quoted were made.”

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