Ladies and gentlemen, friends of the media, thank you for coming.
We have invited you today to share our grave concern. Concern that a former Attorney General of this dear Republic of Ghana, Hon Marietta Brew-Oppong, chose to allow herself to be used in a matter that is virtually beyond salvation.
The matter at hand is the judgment against Airbus SE. Airbus SE, Europe’s largest aerospace multinational, confessed to a High Court in London of paying huge bribes in order to secure contracts in several countries including Ghana, between 2011 and 2015.
The planemaker has been fined in excess of three billion pounds (£3bn) as penalties. Anti-corruption investigators, have described the court’s decision as the largest ever corporate fine for bribery in the world after judges declared that the scale of corruption uncovered was “grave, pervasive and pernicious.”
The Court noted that Airbus “used a network of secret agents to pay large-scale backhanders to officials in foreign countries to land high-value contracts.” Court documents and proceedings on the internet say a high ranking elected Ghanaian government official was allegedly involved in acts of bribery intended to improperly influence his conduct of government business. That official is further referred to as ‘Government Official 1’ (GO1). On the face of the evidence presented, GO1 appears to be no other than former President John Dramani Mahama, now Presidential Candidate of the NDC for the 2020 Presidential and General Elections.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) would have been content with the swift response of the Government in referring the matter to the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP). Indeed, we commend H.E the President for his swift decision to refer the matter to the OSP. It is welcome and very necessary because this is an international issue and some other countries mentioned in the Judgment have already started investigations. The international community is in on this one.
But notwithstanding the referral to the OSP, it is important to note that the former Hon Attorney Generals intervention on behalf of Candidate Mahama is very weak and unable to directly respond to the hard facts as put out by the United Kingdom Serious Fraud Office (SFO). It is, therefore, necessary that former President now Candidate John Dramani Mahama responds directly to the issue himself.
Candidate Mahama is no stranger to speaking to the international community. He has been known to assemble diplomats even if he has nothing to say except lies as demonstrated in the false tapes saga of Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency matters. The NPP calls on Candidate Mahama to tell the whole nation what he knows about GO1 and the processes leading to the purchase of the aircraft from Airbus SE.
The serious nature and processes involved in the accusations demand immediate action to remove any stains to the name and reputation of the Republic of Ghana.
The story so far seems fairly clear. Airbus SE, in seeking to sell Ghana three military transport planes from 2009 to 2015, actively engaged GO1, further described as the “key decision maker” in the purchase of aircraft by the then Government of Ghana. Though the first deal for two planes was concluded in 2011, the elected government official could not have been the Late President Mills (RIP) because the evidence identifies a ‘Go-Between’, who is said to be a close relative of GO1.
The ‘Go-Between’ referred to as Intermediary 5 (I5) in the court papers, is further identified as a UK national born in Ghana. I5 is said to have migrated to the United Kingdom as a young child and thereafter lost touch with his Ghanaian family until the late 1990s.
According to President Mahamas’ account of his sibling in his book, ‘My First Coup D’Etat’, the profile of I5 appears to fit perfectly that of the long lost and found brother. Having been found, he conveniently surfaces to be the preferred Business Partner (BP) of Airbus in its deal with the Government of Ghana through GO1.
Remarkably but not surprisingly, I5 had no experience whatsoever in the aerospace industry. A “CV” provided to Airbus in 2011 listed his employment before 2009 as an events manager for a local authority, director of a football merchandising company and facilities manager for an estate management business.
Yet I5 was able to initiate contact between Airbus and the Government of Ghana about aircraft sales. Court records state that as early as January 2009, immediately power changed hands, Airbus had understandings with I5 to pursue GO1 which fed directly into the expression of interest sent out by the Government of Ghana around June 2009. From 2009, I5 and his associates worked on the sales to the Government of Ghana without any written consultant agreement. This included consistent liaison with GO1, as the key decision maker, regarding the potential Airbus C-295 sale.
On December 7, 2009, I5 and another registered Company D in Ghana. A company of the same name was incorporated in the UK in February 2010. Company D was the corporate vehicle through which I5 and his associates provided go-between services to Airbus and GO1. In January 2011, GO1 met Company D in London and concluded that the Airbus C-295 the most suitable aircraft for the Government of Ghana’s needs. This was reported to Airbus.
It is important to note that the two associates working directly with I5, did not have any experience of the industry either. The two UK nationals, referred to as Intermediary 6 and Intermediary 7(both unnamed) were a UK television Actor and Film Director and a former UK television actor.
No wonder when Company D submitted a formal business partnership (BP) application in May 2011 to Airbus, it was rejected. Following the application to be recognised as a formal BP of Airbus, Airbus commissioned an external due diligence report on Company D. The resulting report identified I5 as a shareholder and the possibility that he was a close relative of GO1.
The external due diligence report thus raised concerns that there was a risk of nonconformity with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Convention, which set corporate governance benchmarks to reduce global corruption.
To prevent detection, Company D connived with Airbus and an Intermediary 8 to falsify documents so I5 could be paid through Intermediary 8. The consultant agreement between Intermediary 8 and Airbus was dated 20 March 2012 but said to be effective from January 1, 2010. This was apparently to cover the period when I5 worked without a contract. The agreement provided for a percentage commission fee of the net total amount received by Airbus under any commercial contract with the Government of Ghana for C-295 aircraft.
On 3 August 2011, the Government of Ghana signed a purchase agreement for the sale of two C-295 aircraft. Between March 2012 and February 2014, Airbus is said to have paid Intermediary 8 a total of €3,909,756.85, nearly a million Euro over the agreed commission sum approximating €3,001,718.15. We are further told that between 10 April 2012 and 31 July 2013 Intermediary 8 paid €3,850,115 to Company D. Intermediary 8 retained about €60,000, for services towards the deception.
An attempt to use Intermediary 8 again for the last purchase failed. In the absence of a viable shell BP, the Government of Ghana purchased a third C-295 direct from Airbus. This arrived on December 4, 2015, but company D did not benefit financially from it as Airbus refused to pay the promised kickback of €1,675,000.00 on the third aircraft.
In the face of these facts, it is very necessary for Candidate Mahama to come out and be heard publicly. He cannot continue to hide behind others. Of course we are all aware that he hates answering questions about corruption. He will like to find out if the question is being asked as a former President, or as a Candidate of the NDC, or as a Human Being. But answer he must, because allegedly, all fingers point to him and one of his brothers.
The companies used to receive the bribe money have been named. The shareholder who is very close to the former President has been named.
Document falsification, kickbacks, lies and overpayments is what the Airbus scandal is all about. And it appears John Mahama is deeply involved.
Significantly, this is just one of Mahama’s corruption scandals, where it is alleged that he personally leads the negotiations and for his close associate to execute on his behalf and collect the bribes.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Airbus issue appears similar to the Embraer investigations, which then-Attorney General, now OSP, Martin Amidu, was tasked by President Mills to do but was aborted in mysterious circumstances.
As Chairman of the Armed Forces Council, then Vice President John Mahama was frantically receiving delegations from Brazil and negotiating the acquisition of five jets, including the most expensive hangar for this poor nation, when his President appeared not to be aware of the transactions.
The late President Mills (RIP), apparently shocked and suspicious of the negotiations in the acquisition of aircraft for the Armed Forces, set up a Committee, comprising Hon William Aboah, Mr. George Amoah and Brig. Gen. Allotey (Rtd.), to investigate the processes of the acquisition of five Aircraft, including Embraer 190 aircraft and hangar to the Ghana Army.
According to then-Attorney General Martin Amidu, “pressure groups never allowed the Committee to take off. But the very fact that the late President Mills contemplated this Committee meant that he was uncomfortable with and suspicious of the alleged inflated prices of the aircraft.” The nation is still none the wiser.
This is not the first time a court has boldly declared the Mahama regime an official kleptocracy. This is a UK court. It confirms what the Ghanaian Supreme Court declared when it said the then Government of John Mahama was in government to “create, loot and share” public resources.
The nation has had major issues of corruption and important allegations made against John Mahama personally in his time at the helm of government. He was personally involved in the Ford bribery scandal and the Armajaro issues, another foreign UK matter. Indeed, as referred to already, he struggled to even answer the BBC question whether or not he’d accepted a bribe before.
So this is a test case. A test for whether he is fit for purpose in his intent to return to the Presidency of Ghana. Can the destiny of this nation once again be entrusted to one who is proven to have indulged the nations’ trust with self-dealing for personal enrichment?
Fit for purpose tests are now commonplace in public life where the trust of the people is at stake.
The NPP demands that Candidate Mahama come out and justify that indeed, he is fit for purpose.
Thank you for coming and May God Bless our beautiful nation.
YAW BUABEN ASAMOA