The SAS Finance Group, of which the Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State, Togbe Afede XIV, is CEO, has denied serving as a transaction advisor for an intended establishment of a national gold royalty company during the Mills-Mahama administration as claimed by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta.
The traditional ruler, once a friend and a business partner of Mr. Ofori-Atta at DATABank, however, ignored the minister’s insult that he is “blot on wisdom”.
A statement signed by the Executive Director of the SAS Finance Group, Sena Agbo, dated Friday, 4 September 2020, said: “Our attention has been drawn to images circulating across social media platforms purporting to suggest that SAS Finance Group was advisor to the government of Ghana between 2011 and 2012 on the establishment of a Minerals Royalty Company”.
Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, had on Friday taken a swipe at the President of the National House Chiefs, Togbe Afede XIV, over his comment on the Agyapa Royalties agreement after the latter questioned the rationale behind the government’s decision to set up an offshore company incorporated in a tax haven of Jersey, UK saying you can’t have secrecy of the management of a national resource.
Speaking to Kwame Sefa Kayi of Peace FM on, September 4, 2020, 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 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.
But the statement from the SAS Finance Group stated that “We wish to state that SAS was invited to a consultative meeting in 2011 on the establishment of 100% state-owned entity to hold Ghana’s gold assets, including its 10% carried interest in gold mining companies, and to receive royalties due to the state”.
“Togbe Afede XIV, CEO of the SAS Finance Group, attended this meeting, like many other similar meetings at various ministries and under different governments. SAS was never given a mandate to act as transaction advisor, neither was the firm or Togbe paid for attending this meeting”, the statement noted.
Just on Thursday, 3 September 2020, the President of the National House of Chiefs, said he does not see why the Agyapa Royalties deal should be shrouded in secrecy.
Addressing the Volta Regional House of Chiefs at which meeting he took strong exception to attempts to associate him personally as well as the National House of Chiefs to the controversial minerals monetisation deal, Togbe Afede XIV said: “I, in particular, I’m very much hurt by the attempt to use my name to grant legitimacy to a transaction that has been widely condemned for its secrecy and for the fact that the company involved was incorporated in a tax haven”.
“I do not see why desperation would lead anybody associated with that transaction to want to use the name of the innocent Togbe Afede XIV. I have never commented on this transaction and I have decided not to comment for good reasons,” he stated.
The Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State added: “Even the Attorney General has issued a statement that showed disapproval on this transaction”.
In his view, “tax havens basically serve two purposes: helping you to avoid tax or ensure secrecy”, noting: “I don’t see why a national transaction should become a secrecy in the first place”.
“But more important for me”, Togbe Afede XIV said, “is the attempt to use my name and the national house of chiefs to grant legitimacy to this transaction”.
He revealed that the National House of Chiefs “would issue a statement promptly to deny that this ever emanated from the house”.
The President of the National House of Chiefs also denied ever condemning the flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), former President John Mahama, for sharing on his Facebook timeline, a statement authored by Bolgatanga Central MP Isaac Adongo, in which the lawmaker accused President Nana Akufo-Addo and what he referred to as the “Akyem Mafia” and their cronies of seeking to appropriate Ghana’s gold resources to themselves through the Agyapa deal.
He told the Volta House of Chiefs on Wednesday, 2 September 2020 that: “I want to use the opportunity to condemn, without reservation and in no uncertain terms, three fake publications – two of which were in the name of the Volta House of Chiefs and the third one in the name of the National House of Chiefs”.
“In the first publication, the Volta House of Chiefs was alleged to have blasted the NDC and alleged that we have said that we are tired of the NDC. The second one was labelled: ‘Announcement to all Voltarians’, which was supposedly from Volta chiefs to the effect that since 1992, the Volta Region has supported the NDC party because of former President Jerry John Rawlings and that we have nothing from our support.”
“I have issued a press statement in the name of the Asogli State to disassociate myself from those publications because some of them came with my picture, so, we have written to deny that any such statement was issued by chiefs of the Volta region,” he said.
“But only yesterday, a third one made the rounds and was carried by various channels: Ghanaweb, Myjoyonline, Graphic Online et cetera; some of them probably found out later that it was fake and they promptly removed same. It was titled: ‘House of Chiefs condemned ethnocentric comments shared by John Dramani Mahama’. Again, this publication came with my name but this one went further to forge the letterhead of House of Chiefs. This is extremely mischievous and needs to be condemned without any reservations and in no uncertain terms,” he said.
The Akufo-Addo government and the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), had rushed into archives and found a nine-year old document prepared by President John Evans Atta-Mills administration, expressing an intent to set up Royalty Company to be known as Ghana Gold Company, just like the controversial Agyapa Royalties Limited, which is an offshore company.
But the desperate move to equalize and dilute the persuasive arguments by mineral experts, lawyers, policy analysts and Civil Society Organization (CSOs) against the Akufo-Addo’s Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), has suffered a stillbirth.
The memorandum dated October 30, 2011, deflated the government’s own claim of Agyapa Royalties being a novelty with a call from many Ghanaians, including the CSOs, experts like Fui Tsikata and Kofi Ansah, to support its decision to use Agyapa, as a unique conduit to secure some US$1 billion to finance infrastructural projects, which are yet to be named.
Interestingly, Ghana Gold Company, did not see the light of day, unlike Agyapa Royalty Limited, which had gone through various stages with a one-sided Parliamentary approval after an amendment to the country’s mineral laws by the same Akufo-Addo government.
Agyapa, is registered in faraway Jersey, a British island known as a tax haven with its directors unknown. Records as to how they were recruited, their experiences and their competencies are unavailable for public scrutiny.
Kofi Osafo-Marfo, who has already been employed and waiting to assume office as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Agyapa, has had his employment largely, linked to his biological connection; a son of Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Marfo.
At least two legislators; John Jinapor of Yapei Kusawgu and Cassiel Ato Forson, Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam, have separately disclosed that they were told during a Finance Committee hearing in Parliament by the Deputy Finance Minister, Charles Adu Boahen that, information on the management of Agyapa are confidential.
Discussion on Ghana Gold Company, which started during the tenure of Dr. Kwabena Dufuor as Finance Minister, with Seth Terkpe and Fifi Kwetey, as his deputies died along the way, unlike the present Agyapa deal which has gone through various stages with many, describing it as a massive scam on Ghanaians by family and friends of President Akufo-Addo.
On Monday, Lawyer Andrew Kofi Egyapa Mercer, Sekondi Member of Parliament (MP), on Citi TV’s Point of View programme pulled out a memorandum dated October 30, 2011 on Ghana Gold Company, but Mr Jinapor, rubbished the document.
Mr Jinapor, insisted the two issues are different, pointing out that the NDC’ Ghana Gold Company, did not seek to offload shares to private companies.
He added that discussions on Ghana Gold Company, were “transparent and consultative” unlike the NPP’s Agyapa, which is to offload 49percent shares to private companies with Ghana keeping 51percnt, and has been “opaque” about it.
The Ghana Gold Company memo, was addressed to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Finance and Committee on Energy and Mines by the Ghana Gold Company Committee.
It was entitled “Establishment of a National Vehicle to manage and maximize the Financial returns from Ghana’s gold interests”.