The Attorney General has triggered the process for the United Kingdom’s (UK) Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to name persons involved the Airbus scandal, a Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, has said.
According to him, the AG’s Department was exploring Ghana’s cooperation agreement with the UK and that “a letter has been written by the Attorney General to the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) requesting for the information, so the process has been triggered for such information to be given”.
Mr Dame said at a press interaction held on the sidelines of the opening two-day conference on dealing with transnational crimes organised by the Attorney General Alliance (AGA-Africa) in Accra.
He said the Special Prosecutor would unravel the circumstances surrounding the transaction if the key actors would not want to come out and explain their roles and circumstances before the people, “then the legal process would be pursued to ensure that they account for that.”
In his earlier statement at the main conference, he said a classic demonstration of the extraterritoriality and transnational nature of corruption was the January 31, 2020 judgement of the Crown Court at Southwark, United Kingdom presided over by the Rt. Honourable Dame Victoria Sharp between the Director of the Serious Fraud Office and Airbus SE.
He said the agreed statement facts presented to the UK SFO on the basis of which the indictment and conviction were done by the Crown Court, disclosed that investigations were conducted across at least 26 countries in order to unravel the full circumstances surrounding the commission of a crime, to wit, “failure of a commercial organisation to prevent bribery, contrary to section seven of the UK Bribery Act, 2010”, by a company whose organisation and activities spanned various borders.
The five counts of offences, Mr Dame said levelled against Airbus SE were supported by over 30 million documents and upon an admission and establishment of relevant facts by the parties, Airbus SE was fined about £3 billion.
“Given the limits on the exercise of extraterritorial enforcement jurisdiction in commercial crime and the fight against corruption, states in modern times have developed mechanisms to ensure that complex commercial crime with international dimensions committed by multinational companies is punished effectively, while safeguarding some important collateral benefits from activities engaged in by companies involved.
“One of the most important lessons to be learnt from the judgement of the Crown Court in the Airbus scandal, with regards to law enforcement is the innovative reform made by the UK legislation in so far as the prosecution of some crimes is concerned. We observed a departure from the traditional approach to the resolution of alleged criminal conduct through the introduction of a new mechanism of a deferred prosecution agreement by the UK Crime and Courts Act, 2003,” he said.
The effect of such an agreement, he said was that proceedings were instituted by preferring a bill of indictment and that same might be deferred on terms including the payment of financial penalty, compensation, payment to charity and disgorgement of profit.
“The statement of facts of the Airbus scandal supported by over 30 million documents reviewed by the relevant authorities, was undisputed by the parties.
“However, it is remarkable that in spite of the clear uncontroverted facts of the case, the key government officials in Ghana who negotiated the illicitly procured three aircraft for Ghana have maintained utter silence about same, as if there was no such transaction or the principal actors do not exist,” he said.
Mr Dame noted that many of the senior government officials involved in the illicit procurement of the aircraft were still around but continued to maintain a deafening silence or reprehensible indifference to the explicit findings of the Crown Court in England, adding that “at least there was a vice president who transformed into a president during the period in question. While maintaining his silence, contrary to the tenets of accountability to the people, probity and integrity, he is rather remarkably campaigning for votes from the same people he does not want to open up to on the Airbus scandal. There was a minister of defence in the period in question. There was an attorney general at all material times”.
He said in the spirit of accountability to the people, probity, integrity and transparency, one would have expected those key government officials who negotiated and/or were involved in the impugned transaction to self-report and voluntarily cooperate with the investigations directed by the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo
“From the Preamble to our constitution, probity and accountability are the bedrock for the democratic principles on which the affairs of the state are run.
“Having previously sworn an oath to defend the constitution and its principles, it is ironic that the past government officials in question will not open up to the people on the role they played in a transaction the subject matter of a criminal matter in a British court”.