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20.04.2020 General News

GII Wants Resigned TOR Boss Probed Over Bribery Scandal

Asante BerkoAsante Berko
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The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) is asking President Akufo-Addo, to institute a probe into the alleged bribery allegations against the resigned Managing Director of Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), Asante Berko.

GII made the appeal in an open letter addressed to the President, saying it is incumbent on public officials, paid with public resources to demonstrate the highest standards of integrity in the performance of their duties.

Mr. Berko resigned from TOR last week following allegations by US regulators, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that he arranged a $4.5 million bribes on behalf of Turkish power company for Ghanaian Government officials.

Mr Berko tendered in his resignation to President Akufo-Addo on Wednesday, April 15, two days after the allegations came public.

A statement issued by the Director of Communications at the Presidency, Eugene Arhin, says President Akufo-Addo has accepted Mr Asante Berko's resignation, and duly notified the Board of Directors of TOR of this development.

“The President wished him well in his future endeavors,” it says, revealing that Mr Berko submitted his resignation letter on April 15.

It would be recalled that in a statement, US regulators had accused Mr Berko of facilitating the bribes.

But Mr Berko in a statement denied the bribery claims that while serving as an official of Goldman Sachs, he arranged a $4.5 million for a Turkish company to bribe Ghanaian government officials.

Rather he said he only got $2million as arrangee fee.

“The Turkish IPP agreed to pay me fee of $2million (1.3% of the capital raise) as I have spent the bulk of two years working on this transaction”, he stated in a statement issued yesterday.

According to him, while it is true that the Securities and Exchange Commission this week issued such proceedings against him, the allegations that government officials and members of parliament were bribed by him, “are completely false. I am therefore compelled to set the record straight.”

US Regulators had in a lawsuit accused Mr Berko, of arranging a $4.5 million in bribes to government officials in Ghana.

The amount, say the US regulators, was aimed at helping a Turkish company to secure a power contract in Ghana.

“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”),” according to SEC in its lawsuit.

“To effect the corrupt scheme, Berko arranged for the Energy Company to funnel between $3 million to $4.5 million to a Ghana-based company (the “Intermediary Company”) to bribe various government officials responsible for approving the Power Plant Project.”

“The Energy Company 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.

But Mr Berko insists the allegations are not true.

Below is the GII open letter to the president:

Open Letter: GII Demands Probe Into Former TOR Boss Bribery Scandal

Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) has learnt with extreme concern allegations of bribery involving Mr. Asante K. Berko, former Chief Executive Officer of Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the United States of America.

In the suit sighted by GII, the U.S. SEC alleged that:

From approximately 2015 through at least to 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”). To effect the corrupt scheme, Berko arranged for the Energy Company to funnel between $3 million to $4.5 million to a Ghana-based company (the “Intermediary Company”) to bribe various Government Officials responsible for approving the Power Plant Project. The Energy Company 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.

GII is also aware that, Mr. Berko in a statement has denied any wrongdoing on his part as far as his involvement in the Power Plant Project was concerned. In Mr. Berko's statement, he indicated that: “While it is true that just this week, the SEC has issued such proceedings against me, the allegations that Government Officials and members of Parliament were bribed by me are completely false.” Subsequently, GII has learnt in a statement signed by Mr. Eugene Arhin, the Communication Director at the Presidency of Government's acceptance of Mr. Berko's resignation.

Dear Mr. President,

Mr. President, GII is not oblivious to the fact that you are preoccupied with the fight against COVID-19, the ruthless pandemic. However, we want to respectfully bring Government's attention to the fact that, if conscious effort is not made, there is the high tendency and risk of Government's attention being shifted from addressing anti-corruption issues resulting in these allegations being swept under the carpet.

Mr. President, GII is of the opinion that, it is incumbent on public officials, paid with public resources to demonstrate the highest standards of integrity in the performance of their duties and it is in line with this belief that GII calls on your high office to:

  1. authorize a thorough independent investigations by the appropriate state institution into the allegations of corruption involving the former TOR Boss, Members of Parliament and Government Officials and if any official is found culpable, the appropriate sanctions be meted out without fear or favour;
  2. commit to ensure, in the spirit of transparency and accountability, that government will publish the findings of the investigations to assist public officials and politicians to recognise and desist from similar incidences of corruption (i.e. if anything untoward is found) in the future

    Mr. President, it is important to note that, the implications of these allegations on Ghana's international image, governance, the country's national anti-corruption agenda and your government's commitment to the fight against corruption are dire and the people of Ghana look up to your unalloyed leadership in this matter.

    We also take this opportunity to commend Mr. President for the urgency and importance government attached to the Airbus saga and the swift action taken in referring the matter to the appropriate state institution for investigations and request that same alacrity is given to this matter.

    Yours Faithfully,

    SIGNED

    Ghana Integrity Initiative

---Daily Guide

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