The Herald's continuous investigations into the phony US-based company called, "Asaase Royalties Limited" has sighted Kofi Osafo-Maafo, a one the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, as one of the brains pushing a deal which is to divert Ghana's royalties from mining and hand it over to the recently formed company to manage.
The company per dossiers in the custody of The Herald, claims it is raising between US$400 to US$500 million, for the Akufo-Addo government through some syndicated American banks namely; Bank of America, JP Morgan and Bank of Montreal.
The money, according to officials of Asaase Royalties Limited, will be raised with an Initial Public Offering (IPO)-the process of offering shares of a private corporation to the public in a new stock issuance to raise capital from investors.
But insiders, have said it is a calculated ploy to land free money into the pockets of some government officials, party hangers-on, friends and relatives of President Akufo-Addo, by taken over the receipt and management of Ghana's mineral royalties.
Kofi Bosompem Osafo-Maafo, is a Deputy Director-General in-charge of Investment & Development at the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), but some documents in the custody of this paper, show him as playing a double role; serving as an official of Asaase Royalties Limited.
It is unclear, how the Minister's son got involved in the company which The Herald's preliminary investigation, revealed is incorporated in the US with its registered address as 3rd Floor, 44 Esplanade St Hilier, Jersey, JE49WG, while also serving as deputy boss of SSNIT at the same time.
It is also unclear, if the SSNIT board led by Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor is aware of Mr Osafo-Maafo's extra activities outside his current employment with the scheme.
But more information filtering in since The Herald broke the story on Asaase Royalties Limited, continue to raise eyebrows.
Among these is an allegation the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta and a group of consultants at Databank Group, are connected to Asaase Royalties Limited.
They have secretly introduced amendments to change an existing law to put Ghana's mineral royalties, from mineral concessions using Asaase Royalties Limited as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV).
In this regard, a bill was tabled in Parliament to cause the expected amendment to portions of the Minerals Income Investment Fund passed in 2018, Act 978, and was rushed through Parliament, last Wednesday, July 22, 2020, under a certificate of urgency.
The motion introducing for the first time in the house clearly noted "that notwithstanding the provision of standing order 80 (1) which require that no motion be debated until at least forty-eight hours have elapsed between the date on which notice of motion is given and the date on which the motion is moved, the motion for the second reading of the Development Finance Institutions Bill, 2020 may be moved today".
The new amendment, basically takes away the power of the Ghanaian government, because Asaase Royalties Limited, will be absolutely independent in its operations, even though they will be collecting and managing royalties owned by Ghana. The country has 10percent stake in all mining concessions in Ghana.
It is alleged that, the new sweetheart bill that curiously gives Asaase Royalties Limited unbridled powers over Ghana's mineral royalties, will ensure that theÃÂ fund manager and his operations, are not accountable to the government and the people of Ghana, as it is not subject to the Public Financial Management Act, that checks abuse of public funds by state officials and their assigns.
"Clause 10 introduces a new provision into the Act to the effect to clarify that the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921) and the State Interests and Governance Authority Act, 2019 (Act 990) are not applicable to the Special Purpose Vehicle," states the report of the Finance Committee signed by the Chairman, Dr. Mark Assibey Yeboah.
ÃÂ In the report, Asaase's income will not be subject to Ghana's tax regime. This is contained in Clause 7 amends section 35 of the Minerals Income Investment Fund by specifically stating that mineral income paid to Asaase, will not be subjected to Ghana's tax regime and it gives the Finance Minister an unbridled power to enter into all sorts of agreements with the Asaase SPV without recourse to the Ghanaian government.
This newspaper gathered that it took just one day for the motion for the bill to be moved and passed. It was not debated, neither did it go through the usual processes needed for it to be passed, despite the fact that per Parliament's standing orders, no motion should be debated less than 48 hours after it has been moved.
"The Committee determined and hereby certifies that the Bill is of an urgent nature and may be taken through all the stages of passage in one dayÃ¢ÂÂ¦," Dr. Assibey-Yeboah wrote in his report dated July 16, 2020.
Additional report from the WhatsApp news a social media publication, revealed that there was no representation from the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) at the time. It said barely seven NDC MPs were in the legislative chamber, while the Majority had a dozen when the clandestine bill was pushed through.
Even the NDC Ranking Member on Energy and Natural Resources, Muntaka Wakilu, was not in the house when the questionable amendment bill was passed.
Basically, Asaase Royalties Limited, which has a striking coincidence in name to Asaase FM owned by President Akufo Addo's cousin and right-hand-man, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, will be controlling over US$ 1.5 billion of Ghana's mineral royalties.
Additional reports gathered indicate that the Finance Minister, has engaged consultants who are being housed in expensive hotels and are charging mouth-watering fees.
Insider information are that those behind Asaase are basically akin to fronts for the Finance Minister, with most of them having direct connection with him through Databank.
Other reports are that Asaase Royalties Limited, has a subsidiary company called Pan African Capital Group with some names popping out, which are linked to either the Presidency or Ken Ofori-Atta's Databank.
In one of the documentsin the custody of The Herald, an official of Asaase Royalties Limite,d had stated that "for the IPO to go ahead, there are two major hurdles that have been the cause of the delays that we need to get over".
Among these is a "Review by Attorney General's Office and Parliamentary Ratification" explaining that "the amendments to the MIIF Act and related agreements such as the Investment Agreement that secures the royalty flows to Asaase are being reviewed by the Attorney General's office.
These amendments and agreement needs to be ratified by parliament. Executive approval, has been given subject to AG's review and approval".
Secondly, Asaase also wants "Renewal of Ratification of Mining Leases" asking that "13 of the 46 mining leases that underpin the Royalties from the gold mines must be renewed. The renewal is awaiting Cabinet Subcommittee approval".
It said, "once these are renewed, they will need to be attached to the Amendments to the MIIF Act and the related agreements, and be sent to Parliament for ratification".
"The two issues noted above continue to be the major controllable ricks to the IPO timetable. Given the complex project to get Asaase to market has taken about two years, these issues continue to pose an undesirable upside risk to costs".
It pointed out that "the further risk resulting from these delays is that it will potentially have an adverse impact on the valuation of the proposed IPO, as it will appear as though the government and its advisors have struggled to bring this transaction to market", adding "the current market conditions gives us little margin for error. Subject to the conditions of the financial markets, we are looking to list Asaase at the beginning of July. Considering the time needed for Parliamentary ratification, and marketing to investors, these delays remain a major challenge".
More to come!