Franklin Templeton, Enterprise Group, Ken Ofori Attah, And Insider Trading
We, members of the National Democratic Congress -USA Coalition, fully commend the NDC Minority Caucus in Ghana’s Parliament for diligently exercising their Constitutionally-defined oversight duties in pursuit of the interests of the people of Ghana.
It is the hallmark of a functioning democracy that Ghana’s legislature exercise its prerogative as a co-equal branch of government. We particularly laud the decision of the NDC Parliamentary caucus to seek ethical and legal scrutiny into the propriety of the process by which the Bank of Ghana, under the instructions of the Minister for Finance, Honourable Ken Ofori Attah, executed the sale of long-dated domestic bonds for US2.25 billion on 4th April, 2017.
The petitions lodged at the Commission for Human Rights and Justice (CHRAJ) in Ghana, and at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States of America, inspire confidence that thorough investigations will be conducted by non-partisan entities.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant. It is even more imperative to hold the conduct of public institutions and officials accountable for their management of the public purse, especially when their conduct commits Ghana to long term debt obligations at astronomical interest rates, without thorough debate by the people’s elected representatives.
In what has been dubbed “the largest single-day sale of sovereign debt transaction in Sub-Saharan Africa”, Ghanaians, regardless of party affiliation, deserve the right to know the terms of this and other debt commitments, for it is their tax money that will repay the debt.
However, as we have found out, the bidding process was opaque. How was a single investor, Franklin Templeton, whose principal, Trevor Trefgarne, who is also Hon. Ofori Attah’s business partner, allowed to purchase 95% of the bond issue?
Furthermore, the bonds’ listing as private placement eroded Ghana’s leverage, while obfuscations about the classification of the bonds sold - international or domestic, shut out parliamentary scrutiny. That the bond sale was completed without the Finance Minister disclosing the entanglements of his private companies -- the Enterprise Group and associates in the transaction, raises conflict of interest red flags, as well as potential insider trading violations.
Insider trading is illegal in many countries around the world, precisely because it involves the abuse of information by officials privy to such sensitive information in order to confer advantage and illegal profits on favoured investors to the disadvantage of others. The market distortions from Insider Trading weaken the financial system.
Hon. Ken ofori Attah, in his role as the finance minister, part owner of the Enterprise group, and partner to Trevor Trefgarne a principal at Franklin Templeton Group, had information and its benefit thereof to tip the scales to his favored partners and private business in the sale of Ghana’s biggest bond issue.
The conflict of interest and additional violations should have alarmed the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Gloria Akuffo, whose duty it is to scrutinise such deals on behalf of the government. It did not. Why? Was the Attorney General compromised in the performance of her oversight duties as a result of her former role as director at Enterprise Life, a subsidiary of Enterprise Group and her financial relationship with the involved participants?
We strongly demand a thorough probe that will restore public confidence in Ghana’s capacity for rule of law. Furthermore, we are keen to find out if Franklin Templeton, as a registered American company, complied with US laws, especially disclosure requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which forbids US companies from paying bribes to foreign governments in the conduct of their businesses.
NDC USA - Coalition