Ken Ofori-Atta running from Agyapa debate for one-on-one interviews

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, is cleverly avoiding any confrontation from experts and civil society organizations on the controversial Agyapa deal.

He smartly appears on selected media platforms alone, talking freely without much scrutiny from his peers on the suitability of the transaction, which was first reported by The Herald in July, this year.

This morning, he is expected to be on Joy FM's Newsfile programme from 9am to 10am, in what has been dubbed "One-On-One with Ken Ofori-Atta on the Agyapa Deal".

Electronic fliers on his appearance on the Saturday current affairs programme hosted by Samson Lardy Anyenini, went out Friday.

So far, he has appeared on Peace FM, Citi FM and Asaase Radio owned by his cousin, Gabby Asare Octhere-Darko, described as one of the brains behind the Agyapa deal.

Gabby's law firm, Africa Legal Associates, has done some legal work on the transaction and got paid a juicy US$103,000.

Ahead of these appearances, The Herald picked up intelligence about Mr Ofori-Atta's meeting with some selected journalists to get their platforms to address concerns raised about the deal.

Speaking to Kwame Sefa Kayi of Peace FM on Friday, September 4, 2020, the Finance Minister, admitted conflict of interest when confronted that his private company Databank, was one of the transaction advisers on the transaction, saying his company has 30 years of experience in the area of investment banking.

He insisted that every major transaction which has built the stock market, has had something to do with the Databank, including Ashanti Goldfield among others, adding it has nothing to do with him serving as Finance Minister, because with or without him, Databank, would have won the deal.

Databank, he claims, currently manages over US$3 billion assets and runs a budget of GHC90 billion annually.

He took a swipe at the President of the National House Chiefs, Togbe Afede XIV, over his comment on the Agyapa Royalties agreement.

Togbe Afede is reported to have questioned the rationale behind the government's decision to set up an offshore company incorporated in a tax haven of Jersey, UK.

Togbe Afede, criticised the government for not incorporating it in Ghana and denied reports that he has endorsed the deal.

"Tax havens typically serve two purposes, helping you to avoid tax or ensure secrecy. I don't see why a national transaction should be shrouded in secrecy in the first place. And if we are trying to avoid tax or minimise tax, who are we denying tax payments to?" the report quoted the Asogli Paramount chief.

"If it is incorporated in Ghana, the tax will accrue to Ghana, which will be paid by this company, that is owned, supposedly, majority by Ghana; so I do not see why we should do an investment but more important for me is the attempt to use my name and the National House of Chiefs to grant legitimacy to this transaction," Togbe Afede said.

Ofori-Atta, said Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State could have made a request for further and detailed information on the deal, instead of making a 'disingenuous' statement.

The Finance Minister, asserted that Togbe Afede was involved in the attempt by the NDC government to implement the Gold Royalties Company deal in 2011.

He said, instead of criticising the deal, Togbe Afede, could have recommended to the government certain aspects of the deal that ought to be altered.

"For someone who should know much better to say this, I think it's a period of blot on wisdom as you look at what is good for the republic. I know Togbe Afede was at the heart of the NDC attempt to do this in 2010 and they got it wrong. Nothing could be so wrong in what we are doing.

"What we are doing might be new but it is nothing Togbe can't understand so you would expect that he will recommend some tweaking but to categorically say that it is bad then it's a level of disingenuity; that is difficult," he stressed.

On Asaase Radio, Mr Ofori-Atta, while speaking to Kojo Mensah and Nana Yaa Mensah, was defiant, saying emphatically that absolutely nothing will stop the Agyapa Royalties deal from being implemented.

"Because of the forward-looking statement, I can only assure you that we will do it this year. We continue to explain to get people to understand where we are coming from and where we are going, how this is good for the country", he said on Friday.

"The roadshow continues. As we talk to investors now, most of the negotiation are done via Zoom on a daily basis, as we begin to now determine at what pricing we would be able to go – almost 0.6 times net asset value towards 3.2 times net asset value- and then we strike a price at the right time."

Source: The Herald