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Asante Berko never paid bribes to MPs in 2015 - Muntaka Mubarak

By Mutala Yakubu
Muntaka Mubarak
Muntaka Mubarak
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The Minority Chief Whip Muntaka Mubarak has denied claims by the US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) that former Managing Director of Tema Oil Refinery, Asante Berko paid bribes to Members of Parliament and other government officials to help a Turkish energy company win a contract to build a power plant.

Mr Berko has denied the allegations and vowed to file a lawsuit against the US SEC but today April 15, 2020, he has resigned from his position as MD of TOR.

Muntaka was a member of the Energy Committee in parliament in 2015 and they first approved the deal but says no such act of bribery went on.

READ ALSO: TOR MD, Kweku Asante Berko resigns after bribery allegation

"To be frank with you, I am seeing his face for the first time since the news broke out, as a member I can tell you not a dime was paid to anybody, the gentleman has come out to say he has not paid anything, I think the investigations will make everything clear, I can tell you I have never seen him not to talk of exchange money, you can ask the chairman of the committee then, I for once can tell you I never saw the gentleman exchange money with anyone".

Background

The Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that Asante Berko, a former executive at Goldman's London subsidiary, facilitated as much as $4.5 million in bribes to help a Turkish energy company win a contract to build a power plant. The SEC says the energy company, which wasn't named, funnelled money to an intermediary, which then paid bribes to Ghanaian government officials.

Mr. Berko also personally paid bribes totalling $66,000 to members of the Ghanaian parliament and other government officials, the SEC alleges. The said bribery transaction occurred within a period from 2015 to sometime in 2016.

An attorney for Mr. Asante Berko declined to comment on the lawsuit, which accuses Mr. Berko of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. That law bars individuals and companies from giving anything of value to overseas officials to win business.

The SEC said in a press release that Mr. Berko tried to hide the scheme from the bank, whose compliance officers questioned how the deal was put together. Goldman, which wasn't named in the SEC's lawsuit, terminated its involvement with the project after the energy company refused to explain the intermediary firm's role, the SEC's legal complaint says.

"Goldman Sachs fully cooperated with the SEC's investigation and as stated by the SEC in its press release, the firm's compliance personnel took appropriate steps to prevent the firm from participating in the transaction," said Nicole Sharp, a spokeswoman for Goldman.

The energy company paid Mr. Asante Berko $2 million for successfully coordinating the effort, the SEC alleges. The payments violated Mr. Berko's employment agreement with the bank, the SEC's lawsuit says.

Mr. Asante Berko knew the bank stood to earn $10 million in fees if the energy company won the contract and organized financing for it, the lawsuit alleges. The deal would have "enhanced Berko's performance and stature within" the bank, according to the SEC's complaint.

In the suit, which was filed in Brooklyn federal court, the SEC asks for Mr. Asante Berko to pay fines and give back any compensation he earned through the scheme.