Finance Minister Must Resign - Minority

The Minority Caucus of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Parliament on Wednesday called on Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta to immediately resign, or be dismissed and subsequently prosecuted for breaches in connection with the issuance of the US$ 2.25 million bond last year.

The Minority also urged President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo to take appropriate steps to ensure that the Finance Minister was removed from office, or it ”shall invoke a motion of censorship in accordance with Article 82 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana to remove him as soon as possible.”

Addressing a press conference at the Parliament House, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, the Leader of the Minority and MP for Tamale South, said adverse findings contained in a report of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) on the bond issue vindicates the Minority’s position that “the US 2.25 was fraught with irregularities and did not comply with Ghanaian laws.”

Flanked by Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, Ranking Member on Finance; Alhaji Mohamed-Mubarak Muntaka, Minority Chief Whip and some other members on the Finance Committee, Mr Iddrisu said despite denials by the Minister, the report confirmed the position of the Minority, that the issuance did not follow due process.

The Minority noted breaches of improper use of issuance calendar, breach of period of issue, lack of parliamentary approval, leakage of information on the bond to some investors before the Ministry of Finance requested the Bank of Ghana to issue the bond notices to the markets.

The (CHRAJ) report further noted that additional information about the bond issuance was sent to investors before the Ministry of Finance released the 2nd Quarter issuance calendar,” Mr Iddrisu said, adding “who were the beneficiaries of the leak, prior to an auction that also curtailed the period of notice?”

Quoting the CHRAJ report, the Minority said it was surprised that the Finance Minister and others, continued to portray complete exoneration by the CHRAJ, when the Commission reported of the Minister’s extensive interests in the securities market through shareholding in several companies that operated within the sector.”

“Of concern to the Minority, is the revelation in the CHRAJ report that the Minister concealed his interests in a number of financial institutions in his asset declaration forms filed after his appointment,” the Leader of the Minority said.

He stated further that “according to the CHRAJ report, documents from the Registrar Genera’ls Department show clearly that Mr Ofori Atta was a shareholder in Data Bank Financial Services Limited, Data Bank Brokerage Limited and Data Bank Financial Holdings Limited.

“However, he failed to state in his asset declaration forms, presented on 12th March, 2017 to the Auditor General that he had shares in the companies.”

“This constitutes a serious breach of Section 7 of the Public Office Holders (Declaration of Assets and Disqualification) Act, 1998 (Act 550),” it said, adding that ”the Minister’s actions also contravene Section 251 of the Criminal Offenses Act (Act 29, 1960) which deals with deceiving a public officer.”

The Minority observed that the Minister, on his appearance before Parliament in 2017 had told the House that information requested by the Minority, as required by the Constitution, on terms and conditions for issuance of some bonds, was ‘market sensitive’ and insisted it could not be disclosed.

It however said the documents were already in the public domain, and urged the CHRAJ to release further documents that may be in its possession to satisfy or deny public curiosity.