The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a former banker at Goldman Sachs Group Inc, for “orchestrating a bribery scheme” and arranging at least $2.5 million in bribes to be paid to Government of Ghana officials and Members of Parliament.
The payment was allegedly made to gain approval for a client's power plant project from “2015 through at least 2016,” according to court documents from New York.
The Securities and Exchange Commission said the former banker in question, one Asante Berko, arranged the bribes for a Turkish energy company to funnel the money to a Ghana-based intermediary.
The local company then made the payments to government officials.
“From approximately 2015 through at least 2016 (the “relevant period”), while employed at the Subsidiary, Berko schemed to bribe various government officials in the Republic of Ghana (“Ghana”) so that a client of the Subsidiary, a Turkish Energy Company (the “Energy Company”), would win a contract (the “Power Purchase Agreement”) to build and operate an electrical power plant in Ghana and sell the power to the Ghanaian government (the “Power Plant Project” or “Project”).”
Mr. Berko arranged for the Energy Company to funnel between $3 million to $4.5 million to a Ghana-based intermediary company “to bribe various government officials responsible for approving the Power Plant Project.”
The Energy Company is said to have transferred at least $2.5 million of the planned $3 million to $4.5 million to the Intermediary Company.
“All or most of which was used to bribe Ghanaian government officials,” the court documents noted.
Find below the full SEC statement
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged a former executive of a financial services company with orchestrating a bribery scheme to help a client to win a government contract to build and operate an electrical power plant in the Republic of Ghana in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
The SEC's complaint alleges that Asante Berko, a former executive of a foreign-based subsidiary of a U.S. bank holding company, arranged for his firm's client, a Turkish energy company, to funnel at least $2.5 million to a Ghana-based intermediary to pay illicit bribes to Ghanaian government officials in order to gain their approval of an electrical power plant project. The complaint further alleges that Berko helped the intermediary pay more than $200,000 in bribes to various other government officials, and Berko personally paid more than $60,000 to members of the Ghanaian parliament and other government officials. According to the complaint, Berko took deliberate measures to prevent his employer from detecting his bribery scheme, including misleading his employer's compliance personnel about the true role and purpose of the intermediary company.
“As alleged in our complaint, Berko orchestrated a scheme to bribe high-level Ghanaian officials in pursuit of firm business and his own enrichment. Berko's misconduct was egregious and individual accountability remains a key component to our FCPA enforcement efforts,” said Charles Cain, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division's FCPA Unit. “The firm's compliance personnel took appropriate steps to prevent the firm from participating in the transaction and it is not being charged.”
The SEC's complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, charges Berko with violating the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA and federal securities laws. The SEC is seeking monetary penalties against Berko among other remedies.
The SEC's case is being handled by Asita Obeyesekere and Paul G. Block of the FCPA Unit and Kathleen Shields, Mark Albers, and Marty Healey of the Boston Regional Office.