AN ADDRESS BY COMRADE SAMMY GYAMFI, NATIONAL COMMUNICATION OFFICER OF THE NDC, AT THE 10TH EDITION OF THE NDC’S WEEKLY PRESS BRIEFING, HELD AT THE PARTY’S HEADQUARTERS ON MONDAY, 10TH AUGUST, 2020.
CORRUPTION TRACKER SERIES (PART 2)- TRACKING THE STINKING PDS CORRUPTION SCANDAL.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media. It is my pleasure to welcome you to the headquarters of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for the 10th edition of our weekly press briefing. Our strive to deepen democracy and accountability cannot bear any fruits without your esteemed platforms, and that is why we will continue to cherish our partnership with you.
Today’s briefing is part two (2) of the Corruption Tracker Series we launched a couple of weeks ago. You would recall, that on 8th June 2020, we launched a Corruption Tracker initiative to track the status of the numerous corruption scandals that Ghanaians have witnessed and continue to witness under the Akufo-Addo government; scandals which have occasioned huge financial losses to the state, and robbed Ghanaians of the comfort they were promised in the run up to the 2016 general elections.
As I indicated that day, the NDC is deeply worried about the fact that, resources which otherwise would have gone into developmental projects in order to uplift the poor, are sadly going to line the pockets of greedy officials of the Akufo-Addo government. Indeed, the structural violence that corruption continues to wreak on our people cannot be underestimated, as corruption deprives the vast majority of our people an opportunity to a decent living. This is the reason for our decision, to embark on the Corruption Tracker initiative to expose to the Ghanaian people the extent to which President Akufo-Addo and his corrupt appointees are milking the state coffers dry through graft and sleaze.
During our very maiden press conference on this series, we spoke about the “BOSTGATE” corruption scandal in which five (5) million liters of contaminated fuel was sold by BOST to some unlicensed businesses in the year 2017, in clear violation of the NPA Act and the Public Procurement Act under the watch of President Akufo-Addo. Also, at that press conference, we condemned the fact that the proceeds of that unlawful transaction had not been paid into the state coffers by the beneficiary businesses, MOVENPINAA ENERGY AND ZUP OIL.
Against all hope, we had hoped that President Akufo-Addo was going to act on the issues we raised, by ensuring that the perpetrators of this daylight heist are prosecuted or in the very least, ensure that the proceeds from the unlawful transaction were paid into the state coffers for the benefit of Ghanaians.
Unsurprisingly, and very characteristic of him, President Akufo-Addo has once again failed to uphold the national interest, such that as we speak, the proceeds of that illegal transaction have still not been paid into the state coffers and the perpetrators of this naked thievery are still walking the streets of Ghana as free men enjoying their loot, while Ghanaians continue to suffer.
Despite the refusal of President Akufo-Addo to change his “corruption clearing agent” ways, duty calls on us as a responsible opposition, to continue our Corruption Tracker series in order to shed light on the corrupt activities of this government, and the extent of damage it is inflicting on the already-constrained public purse and all sectors of the nation, so that Ghanaians can make an informed choice at the upcoming December Polls.
PDS CORRUPTION SCANDAL
Today’s Corruption Tracker will focus on one of the biggest scams ever perpetrated against the Ghanaian people by any government in Ghana’s history. I am talking about the gargantuan and stinking PDS corruption scandal that most of you are very familiar with.
Given the possibility that some of you may have forgotten the facts of this matter, I wish to start by way of a brief recap of the sordid facts and events that led to the PDS scam.
Distinguished friends from the media, you may recall that the Akufo-Addo government sometime in July 2019, informed the Ghanaian public that it has suspended the ECG Concession Agreement with Power Distribution Services (PDS) Ghana, over what they described as, “material and fundamental breaches” relative to the Demand Guarantee provided by PDS to ECG. You may also recall, that the Energy Minister, Hon. John Peter Amewu, and his Deputies subsequently followed-up and described the entire ECG/PDS Concession Agreement as “fraudulent.”
The key facts and events that led to this situation are as follows;
- The PDS concession agreement was the product of the American government’s “Compact 2”, also known as the Power Compact with the government of Ghana, which required that Ghana introduces private sector participation (PSP) into ECG’s retail business, with the aim of improving the power distribution sector of the country. The Power Compact is the result of Ghana’s successful implementation of “Compact 1”, a US$547m deal, which the Kufuor and Mills administrations between 2007-2012 used to undertake agri-cultural reforms and major infrastructural projects such as the N1 Highway project in Accra.
- The PSP Concession Agreement approved by the Parliament of Ghana, contained 45 Conditions Precedent which had to be fulfilled by PDS before they take over the GHS20 billion assets of ECG.
- Under Conditions precedent 24 and 31, PDS was required to provide ECG a payment security, in the form of a Letter of Credit or Demand Guarantee with a value of US$350 million from a Bank. The purpose of this payment security was to safeguard the assets of ECG so that, in case of default by PDS, Ghana through ECG could fall on same to recover our losses. This precondition of a demand guarantee from a Bank was therefore critical to the protection of the assets of ECG and the interest of Ghana under the ECG-PDS Concession Agreement.
- Contrary to the effort of Ghana’s Parliament to protect the public purse in order to safeguard our interest in the concession, the Akufo-Addo government shamefully conspired to bend the rules for PDS by changing the key requirement of a BANK GUARANTEE to a less liquid instrument, an INSURANCE GUARANTEE, thereby jeopardizing the assets of ECG and the interest of Ghanaians. This infamous and nation-wrecking decision was taken by high-ranking Government officials, including the Vice President of the Republic, representing President Akufo-Addo at a meeting at the Jubilee House on 19th February, 2019.
- Pursuant to these scandalous amendments by the Vice President Dr. Bawumia, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, and the Eson Benjamin-led MIDA, PDS subsequently provided an Insurance Guarantee with dubious validity to ECG, as same was described as fraudulent by Alkoot, the Qatar-based Reinsurance company which purportedly issued the said Insurance guarantee.
- According to the FTI investigative report on this matter which was commissioned by MIDA at the instance of the US government, crucial advice from Ghana’s own Financial Advisors on this transaction for the necessary due diligence to be done before the said Insurance Guarantee was accepted by the Finance Ministry and ECG, and the assets of ECG handed over to PDS, was ignored. In short, the over GHS20 billion worth of assets of ECG were handed over to PDS by the Akufo-Addo government on the 1st of March, 2019 on the basis of a fraudulent Insurance Guarantee.
- It is worthy of note, that under the guise of promoting local content, 51% of the shares of PDS were allotted to companies belonging to friends and cronies of President Akufo Addo under very shady circumstances, in furtherance of the President’s state-capture agenda. As was found by the FTI investigative report, these local companies had no technical capacity in power retailing and did not demonstrate any financial capacity to manage a critical national asset such as the GHS20 billion worth of assets of ECG.
Indeed the FTI report found that PDS could not even raise the needed funds from equity contributions of shareholders to pay for the so-called Insurance Guarantee it claims to have secured from Alkoot such that, out of the $12.25 million that was charged by Cal Bank to PDS as fees for raising the “fraudulent” Guarantee, only $1 million (8%) was funded by an equity contribution by a PDS shareholder, Philip Ayensu of TG Energy Solutions; $7 million (57%) was funded by a loan that was advanced by Cal Bank to another PDS shareholder, Santa Baron. However, this loan was repaid from operating cash flows, i.e electricity bills collected by PDS after the transfer date. The balance of $4.25 million (35%) was also paid directly from operating cash flows generated by PDS after the transfer date.
- Subsequent attempts by the Finance Minister and cousin to the President, Ken Ofori-Atta to restructure the shareholding of PDS after the deal was sealed, with the aim of diluting and appropriating the shares of the original shareholders for other cronies of President Akufo-Addo, is what lit the spark for the whole PDS inferno. As some of you may be aware, the original Ghanaian shareholders rebelled and refused to participate in this charade. It is this defiance that outraged the Akufo-Addo faction and occasioned the suspension and subsequent cancelation of the PDS Concession.
- It is instructive to note, that this “fraudulent” entity called PDS collected over GHS1.5 billion from electricity consumers in the form electricity bills from 1st March, 2019 to 18th October, 2019 when the concession agreement was in force. As a matter of fact, it was part of these monies, that is about US$11.25 million that PDS used to finance the Insurance Guarantee from the Qatar-based Reinsurance company, Alkoot which was later found to be fraudulent and invalid.
- More importantly, the cancelation of the PDS concession, occasioned the abrupt termination of the whole MCC Ghana Power Compact by the US government. Consequently, the US government withdrew the second tranche amount of US$190 million (equivalent to GH10 billion) it had allotted to Ghana for the improvement of the power sector of the country under the Power Compact. Overall, Ghana has lost about US$1.8 billion as a result of the greed and avarice of President Akufo-Addo and his corrupt family and friends cabal, who sought to appropriate the GHS20 billion assets of ECG for themselves.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, these are the sad events that occasioned the PDS corruption scandal. However, the real tragedy of this scandal is summed up by these nagging questions which are begging for answers:
- Since the Minister for Energy, John Peter Amewu told Ghanaians that the Insurance Guarantee PDS presented for the takeover of the over GHS20 billion assets of ECG was fraudulent – a fact corroborated by Alkoot, the Quatar based Company which allegedly issued the said guarantee, who were those who perpetrated this fraud against Ghanaians and what actions has President Akufo-Addo taken to ensure that they answer for this fraud?
- Who are the state actors who neglected to perform their fiduciary responsibility to the state by failing to conduct the necessary due diligence on the Insurance Guarantee presented by PDS, and what action has President Akufo-Addo taken against them?
- Can the Akufo-Addo government tell Ghanaians the total amount of monies PDS collected from electricity consumers in the form of electricity bills, from 1st March, 2019 to 18th October, 2019, when the concession agreement was still in force?
- Have those monies been accounted for, and if yes, have same been audited?
- If PDS has accounted for those funds collected, and same has been audited, can President Akufo-Addo publish those accounts for the benefit of you the media who are the fourth estate of the realm, and the entire Ghanaian people?
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, what we know is that as we speak, the perpetrators of the PDS scam are still walking the streets of Ghana as free men. Despite the fact that government itself described the transaction as fraudulent, no arrest or prosecutions have taken place till date.
The likes of Vice-President Dr. Bawumia, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta and the Eson-Benjamin-led MiDA who aided and facilitated this scam which has occasioned the nation huge financial losses, have not been held to account for the roles they individually and jointly played in the scam.
Also, cronies of the President such as Mr. Philip Ayensu, an appointee of President Akufo Addo on the NCA Board, who was the Chairman of PDS and the Directors of the local partners in the company, who perpetrated what government itself alleges to be fraud on the people of Ghana, have all been left off the hook.
Even more bizarre and scandalous is the fact that till date, PDS, the Company made up of friends and cronies of President Akufo-Addo, who were gifted the GHS20 billion assets of ECG on the basis of a fraudulent Insurance Guarantee, and operated same for more than seven (7) months, have not been made to account for the over GHS1.5 billion they collected from electricity consumers during the period.
Also, all calls for the accounts of PDS to be audited by an independent and internationally reputable Audit firm have been ignored by President Akufo Addo. And so as we speak, Ghanaians do not even know how much was collected by PDS from electricity consumers within the duration of the concession, and whether those funds have been properly accounted for and audited.
Friends from the media, it is glaringly clear that President Akufo-Addo has no intention to pursue the prosecution of persons responsible for the PDS scam and the recovery of the millions of monies they collected from electricity consumers for the State.
We in the NDC, are not in the least surprised at the nonchalant posture of President Akufo-Addo on this matter. We have always known that President Akufo-Addo can neither be trusted to punish the perpetrators nor ensure that monies collected by PDS are refunded to the state because of he and his cronies are complicit and neck-deep In the scam.
Ladies and gentlemen, never in the history of Ghana have we seen this level of corruption and naked thievery like we are witnessing under the reign of President Akufo-Addo in the last three (3) and half years. Despite promising to protect the public purse, President Akufo Addo has supervised the biggest rape of the public pursue since he took office in 2017. This has led to a sad situation where millions of money, which should have gone into the provision of schools, hospitals, roads, potable drinking water, jobs and other critical investments in the productive sectors of the economy for the benefit of all Ghanaians, have been diverted into the pockets and bank accounts of a few selfish officials of the Akufo Addo-government, while the masses continue to suffer.
Friends from the media, these acts of naked robbery and the coverup of same by President Akufo-Addo, as pertains to the PDS scam, is what continues to entrench President Akufo-Addo as the “Chief Clearing Agent” of corruption, who shields his corrupt appointees from punishment. This is why we have always maintained, that President Akufo-Addo is the biggest enabler and promoter of corruption in his government. Today, the incorruptibility tag he was clothe with by his party and some elements in the media prior to the 2016 general elections, has turned out to be a ruse which was presented to Ghanaians for votes and nothing more.
Ghanaians should not and will never forgive President Akufo for supervising this stinking PDS scam which has caused the nation a huge financial loss of over US$1.8 billion, and the numerous corruption scandals that has engulfed his government in the last three (3) and half years. We call on the good people of Ghana to kick out the corrupt Akufo-Addo regime and vote for the John&Jane Ticket come 7th December, 2020. This country needs Leaders who are honest and incorruptible.
And those are none other than H.E John Dramani Mahama and his running mate, Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, who have dedicated themselves to serving this country with honor and integrity in all the positions they have individually served in.
As President Mahama has already announced, when he is given the opportunity to serve this country again on 7th January 2021, he shall wage a ruthless war against corruption in all sectors of the nation through a crusade dubbed “Operation Sting”.
Ghanaians can be rest assured, that under the “Operation Sting” crusade, the next NDC/Mahama government shall ensure that all monies (over GHS1.5 billion) collected by PDS from electricity consumers are properly accounted for, and ensure the retrieval of any amounts misappropriated by the company, their promoters and accomplices for the State. Also, the next NDC/Mahama government shall ensure the arrest and criminal prosecution of all persons who directly or indirectly played a role in the stinking PDS scam and the several other corruption scandals we have witnessed under the Akufo-Addo government.
As President Mahama demonstrated between 2012-2016, when he ensured the prosecution of his own appointees and party members in the YEA scandal involving Abuga Pele and Assibit, the National Service Secretariat Pay roll fraud scandal among others, President Mahama will not be a clearing agent of corruption in the next NDC government. Through the “Operation Sting” crusade, all appointees of the Next NDC/Mahama administration shall be required to publish their assets and no acts of corruption in any form, whether by Mahama appointees or political opponents will go unpunished. This is the only way, Ghana can succeed in the fight against corruption which has undoubtedly been the bane of the country’s development for a very long time.
President Mahama shall ensure the judicious utilization of state resources for the development of the country through far-reaching policies such as his “Agenda 1 million jobs” policy, Free Primary Health Care program, National Apprenticeship Program, free TVET program, the BIG PUSH policy which will inject some $10 billion into infrastructural projects to dualize key roads, complete the remainder of the 200 Community Day Senior High Schools, finish all abandoned hospital and road projects, among others, for the benefit of all Ghanaians.
Thank you for your attention.