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Allegations of conflict of interest malicious, Finance Ministry says



The Ministry of Finance has punctured allegations of conflict of interest leveled against the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, on the issuance of the $2.25 billion bond, describing it as baseless.

It would be recalled that the Minority in Parliament had alleged that the bond issue was done in such a way to favour an associate of the finance minister.

The Minority, at a press conference addressed by its Finance Spokesperson, Mr. Cassiel Ato Forson, alleged that the issuance was done in secrecy, denying other investors an opportunity to participate in the bond.

However, the ministry, in a statement, said: “Hon Cassiel Ato Forson, a former Deputy Finance Minister, knows very well the workings and processes for the issue of domestic bonds and as such, should not be making such baseless allegations.

“The allegations are maliciously designed to malign and negate the positive news and rave reviews this landmark transaction has garnered, both locally and internationally.

“The issuance was not shrouded in secrecy nor was it “cooked” for any particular investor”.

“The Bookrunners, (Barclays, Stanbic and SAS), on behalf of the Ministry of Finance have been mandated since 2015 to issue these domestic bonds on a regular basis as per the debt issuance calendar which Ministry of Finance (MoF) puts out every quarter.

“Also the book runners announce and publish every impending bond issue to the market, the week of issue and provide price guidance to the market. This particular bond issue was no different and was done in conformity with the established process. It was announced by the Book Runners to the market on March 30, via email and same published on MoF and Bank of Ghana (BoG) websites with settlement on April 3,” the statement said.

Continuing, the ministry explained that it was not only Franklin Templeton that participated, insisting that there were over 25 other buyers including other foreign entities, who all brought in dollars to convert to cedis to buy the bonds.

“This bond issue, like all the others done prior could not have been designed to favour any single investor. The conventional processes for the issue of bonds using the book building approach were adhered to in this particular issuance. It is our understanding that the said investor engaged various market participants and other key institutions including the IMF before deciding to participate in the bonds. It is worth noting that local investors also participated.

“To have obtained preferential treatment, all the above mentioned institutions would have had to conspire to do so, a situation which is unfathomable. The investor in question, FT, has held Government of Ghana bonds of up to USD 2 Billion prior to this transaction. Indeed FT has been buying and investing in government bonds since 2006″, the statement said.

On allegations that parliamentary approval was not obtained, the ministry explained that the bond, like all other domestic bonds issued under this bond program since 2015, did not require Parliamentary approval.

“Approval was given under the initial application to Parliament in the 2015 Budget Statement and Economic Policy document, to run such a bond issuance program. The Ministry of Finance has the mandate to fund the deficit as contained in the budget approved by Parliament through the issuance of debt instruments and to manage the countries debt stock”, the statement added.

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