The Minority members on the Mines and Energy Committee in Parliament today held a press conference denying that they were bribed by former Tema Oil Refinery boss Asante Berko 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 on April 15, 2020, he has resigned from his position as MD of TOR.
Ever since the issue surfaced, there have been calls from a section of the public for the President to refer the matter to the Office of the Special Prosecutor for investigations.
Adam Mutawakilu the Minority spokesperson on Mines and Energy, however, stated it’s the prerogative of President Akufo-Addo to either refer the matter to the Special Prosecutor or otherwise.
The Damongo MP also said no such act of bribery happened in parliament and they have no idea where the US SEC got that information from.
“I have been a member of the mines and energy committee since 2013 to date….there was no any day that in the course of my parliamentary duties that I encountered Asante Berko, No,” the Damongo MP said on Friday.
He added, “I want to state emphatically that nothing of that sort happened and Parliament never received anything in respect to performing our legitimate duties as to the passing of the power purchasing agreement, there was no situation where there were any underhand dealings.”
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.