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Ghana: The PDS Scandal

If this epic tale of corruption was told on television, it would be considered a soap opera, complete with incestuous financial relationships connected by outrageously greedy schemes and linked by family ties all the way to the president of a nation. Quite unfortunately, Ghanaians have been watching this program unfold in their own country since late July when the government of Ghana dramatically suspended the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) concession with the Power Distribution Services (PDS), and then terminated it in October, with all of this playing out in the most bizarre and suspicious manner. But unlike watching a soap opera, this drama of greed has had some very real consequences for the citizens of Ghana. For one, it has led to the American government, via the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), abruptly cancelling the very important second tranche funding of US$190 million, funds which would have been allocated to improve the power sector and benefit all of the nation. Citizens have also been quite outraged to learn the details of attempts by certain key members of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s family and their cronies to capture the retail business of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) all for themselves, by using cronies to front for them. This report by Steve Mallory is a damning confirmation of how some key members of President Akufo-Addo’s extended family have been taking the country for a joyride, one with tremendous economic consequences, and all while the president claims to see nothing and hear nothing, and therefore does nothing.

Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says he “did not come into public life to enrich [himself]”, but serious machinations that have been swirling around his government clearly point to an act of state capture masterminded by some key members of his family and perpetrated by certain personalities directly linked to him.

Some of these shady dealings designed by members of the president’s family, who appear to be bent on capturing the state for their selfish ends, have now given birth to what is being described as the Scandal of the Power Distribution Services (PDS), a supposedly private consortium whose concessionaire agreement with the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) was terminated by the government in a very bizarre and suspicious manner in October over purported forged demand guarantees. This action did not go down well with the United States government, especially when the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) gave Akufo-Addo a rude awakening by cancelling a second tranche funding of US$190 million, which should have come to Ghana as part of the ECG-PDS deal.

Since July 30, 2019, Ghanaians have been treated to what amounts to a soap opera regarding these dealings, when Akufo-Addo’s government, through the Ministry of Information, first suspended the concessionaire agreement, citing alleged “material breaches” of the agreement by PDS. The government suspension came a few days after the ECG, under its board chairman Keli Gadzekpo, claimed that it had suddenly discovered that the demand guarantees that the PDS had used to secure the transfer of the ECG’s distribution assets on March 1, 2019 were fraudulent.

President Nana Akufo-Addo has so far chosen to take no action regarding the very suspicious dealings over oil and power in Ghana that involve members of his own family.

But sources have alleged that Gadzekpo and his long-time business partner, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, who is a cousin of the president, knew way back in March 2019 that the PDS demand guarantees were not genuine but they held that back and kept such critical information close to their chests. Then Gadzekpo dropped that news as a bombshell in July, when the Ghanaian entities who were suspected of fronting for the key members of the president’s family on the PDS consortium proved difficult and tried to double-cross them.

“There was a breach in the payment security. There was some element of fraud in executing the payment security. The payment was not conclusive,” Energy Minister John Amewu then screamed, appealing to the base emotions of the people in an attempt to generate public sentiments for the government to ride on, as if it was they who had taken the moral high ground to suspend and cancel the PDS concessionaire agreement after the Ghanaian entities refused to surrender most of “their” shares to a new special purpose vehicle for Ofori-Atta to then hand them to new cronies deemed more favorable to the interests of the president’s family.

Thus, all the dilly-dallying about the PDS concessionaire agreement seems to have been part of an elaborate scheme by some members of President Akufo-Addo’s family and their cronies to covertly take over ECG, but unfortunately for them – and quite fortunately for the people of Ghana – it backfired spectacularly.

The Americans were not amused at all about the termination of the PDS concessionaire. Their embassy in Accra issued a statement saying: “Based upon the conclusions of the independent forensic investigation [by FTI Consulting], the US position is that the transfer of operations, maintenance, and management of the Southern Distribution Network [of ECG] to the private concessionaire [PDS] on March 1, 2019, was valid, and therefore the termination is unwarranted. As such, MCC has confirmed that the US$190 million funds granted to Ghana at the March 1 transfer to the 20-year concession from ECG to PDS are no longer available.”

“The United States underscores the importance of contract sanctity as essential to a conducive investment climate and a pre-condition for inclusive economic growth,” it added.

That was a tough response from the Americans and it sounds hugely incredible that though the Akufo-Addo government is citing fraud on the part of the PDS, the US government through the MCC is still insisting that the Ghana should continue to work with the PDS, which has supposedly committed fraud in the acquisition of ECG’s distribution assets.

Normally, all things being equal, the American government would side with the Akufo-Addo government and support the termination of PDS’ concession because PDS had committed a fraud (as the Akufo-Addo government has alleged). In this case, however, the American government has sided with the supposedly fraudulent PDS against all logic and repeatedly urged Akufo-Addo’s government between the suspension of the concession on July 30 and its eventual termination on October 18, to reinstate the PDS agreement.

The Americans perhaps know more than what Akufo-Addo’s government has cared to reveal to Ghanaians.

The power deal

The PDS concession agreement is a baby of America’s “Compact 2” with Ghana, which itself followed the successful implementation of “Compact 1”, a US$547m American government deal, again, via the MCC, through which the government of Ghana used the money to implement agricultural reforms and embarked on major public works in the capital city, Accra, from 2007 to 2012.

“Compact 2” (also known as the “Power Compact”) required that Ghana introduce private sector participation (PSP) into ECG’s retail business with the aim of improving matters on that front. The ECG is a US$4b national corporation that rakes in about US$20m every week by selling electricity.

Though the retail business is a profitable one, the ECG had a lot of inefficiencies and leakages, which contributed to Ghana suffering power shortages for years and culminated in a major power crisis beginning in late 2013 that the locals euphemistically called “dumsor” [put off and put on].

In the effort to defeat “dumsor”, the government at the time, headed by President John Mahama, signed the “Compact 2” deal on August 5, 2014, with the US government via the Millennium Challenge Corporation. The deal enjoined Ghana, for efficiency’s sake, to bring in a private operator to inject US$580m into ECG over five years and handle the company’s retail business.

The Compact envisaged the “private operator” to consist of a foreign entity holding majority shares of the consortium and Ghanaian investors holding the minority shares.

Originally this Power Compact mandated the foreign partner to hold 80% of the shares of the consortium while Ghanaian entities hold 20%. But when Akufo-Addo and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) came to power in January 2017, his government re-negotiated the Power Compact and changed the shareholding structure to 51% Ghanaian and 49% foreign.

Many people thought it was a good idea to have Ghanaians take majority shares of the consortium and that the government would spread the ownership of the shares to all Ghanaians through a private subscription on the Ghana Stock Exchange, but in the end people were shocked to see that it was all part of a scheme for certain members of the president’s family and their cronies to take over ECG in a blatant attempt to capture state resources.

How it all happened

The process involving a competitive tendering to procure the services of a private sector partner with the requisite technological, financial and operational expertise to manage the ECG distribution assets, as agreed in the Power Compact, was started in September 2015 by the Millennium Development Agency (MiDA) which “was established by an Act of [Ghana’s] Parliament to oversee and manage the implementation of the programs funded by the US government through the Millennium Challenge Corporation”, and several foreign and local entities expressed interest at the offer.

In the end, a Filipino company, Meralco, was chosen as the foreign private partner to run ECG’s distribution business and was to hold a 49% shareholding of the consortium. But somehow before the agreement was presented to Parliament by the government, an Angolan-based firm, Aenergy SA, which is suspected to be linked to Yoofi Grant, the CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC), but which did not participate in the bidding process, was “smuggled” into the consortium by “the powers that be” and given 19% of the 49% foreign component, thereby reducing Meralco’s shares to 30%, and the other 51% shareholding was spread over four Ghanaian entities.

On July 28, 2018, Parliament approved the deal. As such, on March 1, 2019, when the ECG retail business was officially handed over to the PDS, the shareholding structure that should have consisted of Meralco (30%), Aenergy SA (19%), and four Ghanaian firms set up for the purpose – TG Energy Solutions Limited (18%), Santa Power Limited (13%), GTS Power Limited (10%), and TBK Ghana Limited (10%), then saw TBK Ghana Limited dropped and its shares added to TG Energy’s, thus making TG Energy hold 28%, but that had never been part of the deal that Parliament approved.

Also unknown to Parliament, Meralco’s parent company, Manila Electric, registered a special purpose vehicle (SPV) in Hong Kong for the PDS concession, Meridian Power Ventures Limited, and offloaded its 30% shares to the new company, apparently to protect Manila Electric from any potential risks that might arise from the PDS deal.

It was obvious to all that the Ghanaian shareholders did not have the financial capacity to raise their share of US$59m every year to invest in ECG for five years. The Ghanaian shareholders’ financial weakness and technical incompetence were so glaring that the whole PDS concession appeared shady, creating so many doubts that it raised a lot of eyebrows and sparked speculations that the Ghanaian entities were just holding those shares in trust for some members of the president’s family – which is a very serious allegation.

As if to confirm who was really in charge of the shares, just 26 days after handing over ECG’s retail business to PDS on March 1, the president’s cousin, Ofori-Atta, the finance minister, tried to change the shareholding of the Ghanaian entities by fiat even though as a supposedly private consortium, Ofori-Atta had no power invested in him as finance minister to tamper with the PDS shareholding, let alone make any changes to it.

Ken Ofori-Atta, minister of finance

That notwithstanding, on March 27, 2019, Ofori-Atta wrote to Anthony Akoto Ampaw, the head of the Ghana Negotiation Team for the PDS concession agreement, who is also a long-time partner in President Akufo-Addo’s former law chambers in Accra, saying:

“I refer to the recent transaction pursuant to which Power Distribution Services (PDS) took over the operation and management of the electricity distribution of the Electricity Company of Ghana Limited (ECG).

“Currently 51% of the shares of PDS (the Ghanaian shareholding) are held individually by the Ghanaian shareholders: GTS Power Limited – 10%, Santa Power Limited – 13% [and] TG Energy Solutions Limited – 28%.

“Following the conclusion of ECG’s transfer of its power distribution to PDS, it is of paramount importance to ensure the security of the PDS business and its ownership by Ghanaian shareholders.

“In order to safeguard Ghanaian ownership of PDS and to ensure that control of PDS is secured with Ghanaians in a unified manner, the Ministry requires that the Ghanaian shareholding is consolidated and held by a single newly incorporated Ghanaian entity (SPV) in which the Initial Ghanaian Shareholders (and/or any other Ghanaian investors from time to time) would hold shares.

“The Initial Ghanaian Shareholders would be required to transfer their respective shareholding in PDS to the SPV. The structure preserves Ghanaian control of PDS in the SPV (as opposed to three separate entities, as is currently the case) and ensures that 51% of the shares in PDS are always held by a Ghanaian entity.

“The Ministry trusts that you will over- see the expeditious implementation of the structure outlined above.

“God bless.”

Ofori-Atta’s letter officially acknowledged for the first time that the powers that be had dropped TBK Ghana Limited and allocated its 10% shareholding to TG Energy Solutions. Yet there are no records of any transaction of TBK Ghana Limited offloading its shares to TG Energy Solutions. The way and manner the president’s cousin tried to allocate shares of a private consortium was highly suspicious, and as such it has fueled speculations that some members of the president’s family were really behind the whole deal.

What is worse, Ofori-Atta knew that as Parliament had approved the 51% shareholding structure for the four Ghanaian entities, it could not be legally changed by anybody without Parliamentary approval. Yet the powers that be went ahead and changed that shareholding structure without any recourse to Parliament.

Fake guarantees bombshell

Ofori-Atta’s attempt to change the PDS shareholding was met with disaster as some of the president’s family’s cronies who were allegedly fronting for the family’s interests on the consortium rebelled.

Sources said the rebellion was led by Philip Asare Kwame Ayensu, chair of the PDS Board and head of TG Energy Solutions Limited. The sources claimed Ayensu saw the finance minister’s attempt as a trick to cheat the original Ghanaian investors out of “their” shareholding.

According to the sources, Ayensu’s TG Energy Solutions Limited, which held 28% of the shares, was going to be dropped to 4%. Santa Power Limited’s 13% would have been reduced to 5%, and GTS Power’s 10% cut down to 2%. The difference was going to be allocated to new entrants, including TBK World Plus Limited and Anthony Oteng-Gyasi, the husband of Akufo-Addo’s minister of tourism, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi.

To cover their tracks, Ofori-Atta was later going to add the state-owned Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund (GIIF) and the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to the shareholding to mollify the Ghanaian public, as if the two companies were also participating to make profit. But the real intention was to rely on GIIF and SSNIT to advance the consortium money. The Americans initially objected to the idea of Ghanaian institutional investors getting involved in the transaction but later gave in, on condition that their participation would be done in a “fair and transparent manner.”

But as fate would have it, the original Ghanaian shareholders on the PDS consortium rejected Ofori-Atta’s “gimmicks.” The misunderstanding that ensued led to a four-month behind-the-scenes fierce tussle between the powers that be and TG Energy Solutions Limited, Santa Power Limited and GTS Power Limited, with Ayensu leading the charge.

To break the intense impasse, the powers involved moved into second gear, and Gadzekpo, the chairman of the ECG board of directors, detonated a time bomb that had been ticking away behind the PDS, in the form of fake demand guarantees that the PDS had used to secure the transfer of ECG’s retail assets to the consortium, as a way of frightening the Ghanaian shareholders to bend at the knee.

Keli Gadzekpo, chairman of the board of directors of ECG

Gadzekpo’s ECG announced in late July that it had suddenly discovered that the demand guarantees offered by the PDS to clinch the deal were fraudulent.

In a pincer attack, Akufo-Addo’s government announced on July 30, via the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, that the government, through the Ministry of Finance and ECG, had suspended the PDS Concession Agreement because of “the detection of fundamental and material breaches of the PDS’ obligation in the provision of payment securities (demand guarantees) for the transaction which have been discovered upon further due diligence. The demand guarantees were key prerequisites for the lease of assets on 1 March 2019 to secure the assets that were transferred to the concessionaire.”

On July 31, the government directed the Energy Commission to appoint the ECG as the “interim operator of the electricity retail sale functions in the Southern Distribution Zone [which covers about 80% of the country].”

Beaten, if not overwhelmed by all this, the PDS responded with a tame statement on July 31, saying “it had taken note of the statement issued by the government and ECG [and that it] wishes to state for the record that it has always acted and will act in good faith at all times”.

The PDS then assured “the Ghanaian public that it will not rush to put out any information until it has been sufficiently substantiated, in the interest of safeguarding the transaction and the image of Ghana.”

Bizarrely, a week after the suspension, the government through ECG agreed that PDS should continue in an interim arrangement to carry on the activities prescribed by the Transaction Agreement. This raised the question whether there was any point in suspending the concessionaire agreement in the first place. But that was part of the government scare tactics against the original Ghanaian shareholders who were proving difficult to handle, as some key members of the president’s family tried to go through the back door to claim their shares.

Meralco became very skeptical of the government’s actions and they got a bit agitated so the government tried to negotiate with EDF International Networks of France to come on board and replaced Meralco as the technical partner.

Ray Espinosa, the president and CEO of the Manila Electric Company, was quoted by The Philippine Star as having said “the terms are good, but if [Meralco] will be exposed to these types of uncertainties, we might as well pull out and just devote our attention to the [Philippines]. And even in Asia, it’s more stable. Maybe we don’t have the DNA for that kind of risk in Africa yet.”

Worried by the situation, the US authorities asked the Akufo-Addo government not to change Meralco as the technical and financial lead in the PDS consortium, and requested the Millennium Development Authority to conduct an independent forensic investigation into the matter.

On August 16, MiDA appointed the Washingtion-DC based firm, FTI Consulting, to do the job.

“We believe, and our partners in the Government of Ghana agree, that private sector participation is essential to restoring the financial health of Ghana’s energy sector. The US Government strongly supports the decision taken by the Millennium Development Authority Board of Directors to authorize and hire an independent investigator to conduct a forensic audit of the claimed material breaches in order to fully establish the facts of the matter. Only then can all relevant parties make a transparent and evidence-based decision that is in the best interest of the citizens of Ghana,” the US embassy said in a statement.

This was a very clear message that the US government and its embassy in Accra were not accepting the Akufo-Addo government’s side of the issue. The FTI forensic audit report was therefore important, but when it was finally released on September 3, it did not make happy reading for the government and the ECG.

All the president’s men

So far, and most intriguingly, the key Ghanaian personalities involved in the PDS scandal appear to have an incestuous relationship with one another, and, more importantly, with President Akufo-Addo. Which makes the assertion by the president that his appointees are clean and not corrupt very suspect indeed.

There is Ken Ofori-Atta, the soft- spoken finance minister and cousin of the president, whose attempt to change the PDS shareholding structure at will created suspicions in the minds of the public that the president’s family has a special interest in the PDS consortium.

As a private consortium, PDS is immune, by law, to any interference by the Ministry of Finance or any government official for that matter, and therefore Ofori-Atta’s attempted unilateral restructuring of the consortium’s shareholding was totally out of order.

There is also Keli Gadzekpo, the current chairman of the ECG board and close business partner of Ofori-Atta with whom, and together with others, established the Databank and also took charge of the Enterprise Group Limited where he is the chief executive officer. Under Keli’s watch, some of ECG’s insurance contracts with the State Insurance Corporation (SIC), the state-owned insurer, have allegedly been shifted to Enterprise Insurance.

Insiders say Gadzekpo and Ofori-Atta met several times on the PDS fake insurance guarantees in Accra between March and July before Gadzekpo finally and tellingly made it public in late July. Therefore, it was not a “sudden discovery” as Gadzekpo claimed, found through some “further due diligence” as the government had announced. It was an old open secret, privy to Gadzekpo, Ofori-Atta and the powers that be, and they only held it back to use on the right day when the front men on the consortium refused to play ball.

Also in the deal is Yoofi Grant, the CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC), whose close friendship with Ofori-Atta and Gadzekpo goes a long way back, and these three men were involved in the establishment of Databank. Grant was also actively involved in Akufo-Addo’s election campaign. He is said to be linked to the 32-year-old Portuguese businessman, Ricardo Leitão Machado, who owns the Angolan company, Aenergia SA, which holds 19% shares of the PDS foreign component. Curiously, Aenergia was not part of the concession bidding process but was sneaked into the deal by those behind the scenes before Parliament approved the PDS concession on July 18, 2018.

Next comes Martin Eson-Benjamin, the CEO of the Millennium Development Agency, who is a long-time friend of Ofori-Atta and Gadzekpo. Eson-Benjamin is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Enterprise Group Limited. He, in fact, owes his current position as MiDA CEO through his links to the president via Ofori-Atta and Gadzekpo.

Martin Eson-Benjamin, CEO of the Millennium Development Agency

Key among the Ghanaian shareholders of PDS is Philip Asare Kwame Ayensu, the chairman of the PDS board who only became chair because his TG Energy Solutions Limited held 28% (18% originally) of the PDS shareholding. Ayensu, a small-time businessman, owns SAP Investments Holding, and X MEN barbershop in Accra. He is somehow linked to the CEO of the Jospong Group of Companies, Joseph Siaw Agyepong, who is involved in several questionable government contracts.

Ayensu is also said to be a very good friend of Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, a popular nephew of President Akufo-Addo who has accreted so much power to himself since Akufo-Addo came to office that he has virtually become “Ghana’s Prime Minister” by default.

As a trusted agent of the president’s family, Ayensu’s TG Energy Solutions shares were clandestinely increased to 28% even though Parliament was shown only 18% by the government, and Parliament had approved only 18% for Ayensu’s TG Energy Solutions.

However, to the surprise of most people, Ayensu kicked against Finance Minister Ofori-Atta’s attempt to restructure the PDS shareholding that threatened to take away 24% of TG Energy’s 28% shares and hand them over to new cronies.

But as Ayensu would not give up that much of “his” shares despite threats from the government, the patience of some members of the president’s family finally snapped in July after four months of haggling with him and the other cronies on the consortium. The president’s family members then decided to pull a fast one via Gadzekpo, pretending to have just discovered the fraudulent demand guarantees that they had been well aware of since March.

The PDS Ghanaian shareholders also include the duo who are affectionately known in NPP circles as the “Kwahu Boys”, Kwame Ofosu-Bamfo (owner of Bamson Ghana Limited, an agent of Sikkens paint, and also owner of Alisa Hotel which has since been rebranded as Swissport), and Mike Twum-Barimah (owner of Midwest Company Ltd, which is involved in the steel business in Ghana). The two men were once famously described by Akufo-Addo as: “They are very much my people.” Ofosu-Bamfo and Twum-Barima invested heavily in Akufo-Addo’s 2016 election campaign. They are the main principals of TBK Ghana Limited, a special purpose vehicle set up for the PDS deal, which held 10% of the original shareholding structure approved by Parliament. But they were taken out and their shares given to Ayensu’s TG Energy Solutions. However, per Ofori-Atta’s new restructuring, Ofosu Bamfo and Twum Barima, via TBK World Plus Limited, would have had 15% of the PDS shares.

Philip Ayensu, head of TG Energy Solutions and the chairman of the PDS board of directors

Also on this list of cronies is Kwabena Boateng Aidoo, owner of Santa Baron Ventures Limited which owns Santa Power Limited which held 13% of the shareholding approved by Parliament. Aidoo was a major financier of President Akufo-Addo’s election campaign. He was added to the PDS consortium as a thank-you gesture for financially supporting the president’s campaign. However, Ofori-Atta’s new restructuring sought to slash Santa Power’s original 13% to 5%, and Aidoo was not happy at all about the reduction.

The lineup in this deal also features Nana Osei-Osafo and Kofi Agyemang, who are the main principals of GTS Power Limited and they own GTS Engineering Services Limited, a company that claims to provide “engineering services in the power generation as well as gas infrastructure industries.” The two men are staunch NPP members but keep a low profile.

On the sidelines to be added to the deal was Anthony Oteng-Gyasi, a strong NPP man and a trusted ally of President Akufo-Addo. The president has made Oteng-Gyasi’s wife, Barbara, his minister for tourism, arts and culture. A former chairman of the ECG board, Oteng-Gyasi, is currently the managing director of Tropical Cable and Conductor Limited.

Lastly comes lawyer Anthony Akoto Ampaw, a long-time partner in Akufo-Addo’s former law chambers in Accra. He is the chairman of the Ghana Negotiating Committee on the PDS agreement, and despite the fact that it was improper to tamper with the PDS shareholding structure without Parliamentary approval, he went ahead and did Ofori-Atta’s bidding by trying to restructure the PDS shareholding.

Therein lies the incestuous relationship of all the president’s men, whose entangled relationship can be traced all the way to the top, to the president himself.

Commenting on the PDS scandal, Prof. Kwasi Prempeh, the Executive Director of the Ghana Center for Democratic Development, said “the national interest is not served when cronyism and self-dealing are packaged and presented for popular consumption as economic nationalism. Using public power to enable or facilitate the transfer of public wealth into a few private hands is not ‘nationalistic’ or ‘patriotic’ merely because the chosen beneficiaries are fellow nationals.”

According to Prof. Prempeh, what has happened to the PDS shares is akin to the rise of the “Russian oligarchs” in recent decades. Ghana, he said, “cannot afford and must not countenance the creation of a Ghanaian version of the Russian oligarchs”.

The conditions

After Meralco finalized the bid process and was declared the preferred bidder, Finance Minister Ofori-Atta, acting on behalf of Akufo-Addo’s government, constituted a Negotiating Team and chose Akoto Ampaw, the president’s friend, as the chair of the Negotiating Team.

After eight weeks of negotiations, MiDA says the Cabinet and Parliament of Ghana approved the related Transaction Agreements, that is, the Lease and Assignment Agreement (LAA) and the Bulk Supply Agreement (BSA) entered into between the ECG and PDS, and the Government Support Agreement (GSA) signed by the Republic of Ghana and PDS.

The agreements, as approved by Parliament, had 45 conditions to be met before (or precedent to) the transfer date of the ECG assets to PDS. Originally the transfer date was scheduled for December 30, 2018. Thus, PDS, ECG, and the government of Ghana (known as the Parties) had 180 days from July 3, 2018 to meet the deadline by satisfying the 45 Conditions Precedent (CPs).

MiDA states that “by December 18, 2018, it was clear that the Parties would not meet the December 30 transfer date deadline, and therefore they agreed to extend the deadline to February 1, 2019. However, by January 30, 2019, it became evident again that the Parties would still miss the new deadline.”

“The major CPs that remained unsatisfied,” says MiDA, “included the List of Portfolio Power Purchase Agreements, the BSA Payment Security, and the Lease Payment Security.”

“Although the above major CPs all had grave impact on the transaction, MiDA singled out the BSA Payment Security and the Lease Payment Security, and recommended to the government that the two CPs should not be converted to Conditions Subsequent (CS). In other words, MiDA recommended that the Transfer Date should be postponed once again until these documents were submitted.”

Therefore, a new deadline of March 1, 2019 was set and approved by the MiDA Board and the other stakeholders “to ensure that PDS submitted complaint securities prior to the transfer date.” But as February 2019 ended, PDS could still not satisfy 16 of the CPs and Akufo-Addo’s government converted them to Conditions Subsequent to enable PDS take over ECG’s retail business on March 1.

“CP Numbers 24 and 31 required PDS to furnish to ECG an initial Payment Security in the form of either a demand guarantee or a Letter of Credit issued by a qualified Bank against power purchases and lease payments,” states the forensic audit conducted by FTI Consulting, “due to difficulties with raising a bank guarantee [because PDS did not have US$350 million to deposit in its bank account as required for the issuance of a cash-backed letter of credit] and in the absence of tariffs set in accordance with the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) Rate Setting Guidelines, Ghana approved PDS’s request to submit demand guarantees issued by an insurance company.”

FTI reveals that “on Feb 19, 2019, a high level meeting at the Jubilee House considered the structure of the demand guarantees for the Lease Payment Security and the BSA Payment Security proposed by PDS in place of a bank guarantee or letter of credit. This meeting built on the earlier meeting of the MiDA Board (January 4, 2019) that accepted the structure in principle and charged the stakeholders to work with PDS and their bankers to agree on the text of the demand Guarantees. Thereafter, the guarantees were drafted by MiDA’s advisers and agreed to by Cal Bank and PDS.

“The meeting at the Jubilee House was chaired by His Excellency the Vice-President [Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia]. Others at the meeting include the Chief of Staff, Hon. Minister for Finance, two Deputy Ministers for Energy, MiDA Board Chair and CEO, ECG Board Chair and MD. At the end of the discussions, MiDA was instructed to authorize PDS to issue [insurance] guarantees.”

Thus, the meeting on February 19 chaired by Vice-President Bawumia was convened mainly to change the requirement of the demand guarantee from a letter of credit from a bank to a demand guarantee from an insurance company, even though this was a clear breach of what Parliament had approved under CP 24 and 31 of the ECG Concession Agreement and all because the powers that be wanted PDS to get the ECG deal at all costs.

Republic of Scandals

Critically, the Ghanaian shareholders on the PDS consortium did not have the money to invest in the ECG as the concessionaire agreement demands. As they had no money to put into the ECG for their 51% shares, the foreign partners (Meralco and Aenergia) have also so far not put in any money for their 30% and 19% shares respectively.

Therefore, the PDS, which had promised about US$116m in investment in the first year, did not disburse even a cent, eight months after it took over the ECG retail operations, and before the government terminated the agreement on October 23.

The deal was for the shareholders to inject fresh capital into the ECG, and as they had one year to put in the money, it seemed that they had calculated that within a year they would have had enough money due them from the ECG operations to invest back. So technically, they were not going to have to put in their own money at all.

But by using ECG operating cash flow to invest back into the business, they were getting the deal for free, and that was the real scandal of the ECG matter.

And if that didn’t defy proper financial behavior, Meralco was also charging ECG fees for technical services rendered, which were paid out every month. Yet Meralco and the other shareholders had not put in any money from their own resources.

According to the forensic audit report prepared on behalf of MiDA by FTI, “of the US$12.25m that was charged by Cal Bank to PDS as fees for raising the payment securities, only US$1 million (8%) was funded by an equity contribution by a PDS shareholder. US$7 million (57%) was funded by a loan that was advanced by Cal Bank to another PDS shareholder. This loan was repaid from operating cash flows generated by PDS after the Transfer Date. The balance of US$4.25 million (35%) was also paid directly from operating cash flows generated by PDS after the Transfer Date.” People started complaining about this illegality in May but the government took no action at the time.

In effect, the PDS shareholders (including the two foreign partners, Meralco and Aenergia) could not even fund the bank charges required for the issuance of the US$350 million demand guarantees from their own resources.

Meralco’s boss, Espinosa, was brutally on the mark when he candidly stated “the terms [of the PDS concession] are good.” But of course. Where else can one get such a deal other than Ghana, which is fast becoming a Republic of Scandals?

Meralco boss Ray Espinosa, the president and CEO of the Manila Electric Company

Fake guarantees

Accra-based Cal Bank arranged the Payment Securities as required on the Lease and Assignment Agreement and the Bulk Supply Agreement for the PDS consortium for a fee of US$12.25 million. Cal Bank introduced a local insurance company, Donewell, to the PDS transaction. Then Donewell brought on board Jordanian Australia Reinsurance Brokers (popularly known as JoAustralia) based in the Jordanian capital, Amman. JoAustralia also approached Al Koot Insurance and Reinsurance Company, based in Doha, the capital of Qatar, through Yahya Al-Nouri, the reinsurance manager, to get the deal done.

According to FTI, “PDS delivered the guarantees on February 27, 2019, prior to the transfer date on March 1, 2019. The main guarantor in a structure consisting of Cal Bank, Donewell Insurance Company Limited, and JoAustralia Reinsurance Brokers, was Al Koot Insurance and Reinsurance Company in Qatar.

“On Sunday, July 28, 2019, MiDA received a copy of a letter dated July 16, 2019 purportedly from Al Koot and addressed to ECG, in which Al Koot claimed that Yahya Al-Nouri, the officer who executed the guarantees on behalf of Al Koot, was not authorized to do so, and that Al Koot was also not authorized to underwrite trade risks. It also claimed that an earlier letter received on March 13, 2019 from Al Koot on the same matter had been forged.”

Then the Akufo-Addo government on July 30 suspended the PDS concessionaire agreement based on the July 16 letter from Al Koot.

A five-member Ghana’s government delegation led by Interior Minister Ambrose Dery went to Qatar on August 1 to investigate the matter, and reported on August 28 that “it is eminently clear that there is no valid Payment Security or demand guarantee issued by Al Koot in respect of any part of the obligations of PDS under the LAA and BSA.”

However, in its conclusions, the FTI forensic report said: “We have not seen any documents that would suggest that, as of March 1, 2019, PDS, Cal Bank, Donewell and/or personnel from MiDA should have questioned the validity of the Payment Securities. … We have not identified any information to suggest that either PDS, Cal Bank, Donewell and/or personnel from MiDA committed or conspired to commit fraud or other malfeasance in relation to the demand guarantees.”

Americans get tough

Matters came to a head on October 18 in Washington, DC when two cousins of the president – Ofori-Atta and Nana Bediatuo Asante (secretary to the president) – met the MCC, represented by the principal deputy vice-president, Kyeh Kim, and resident country director for Ghana, Kenneth Miller.

Kyeh Kim, principal deputy vice-president of Millennium Challenge Corporation

The implication of the Ghana team may not have dawned on President Akufo-Addo, but both Ofori-Atta and Bediatuo Asante, being cousins of his, now made the current governance in the country look pretty much like a family affair as people were asking why Energy Minister Amewu or his deputies had not been added to the Ghana delegation.

The meeting followed bilateral talks between the Government of Ghana (GoG) and the MCC in New York between September 22-24, 2019 and in Washington DC from October 15-18, 2019. “During those discussions,” according to the MCC, “the GoG and MCC teams agreed on principles and action steps to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution” to the challenges facing the ECG-PDS deal.

The MCC said the action steps Ghana agreed to take before October 30 were as follows:

  1. Formally announce the reinstatement of the PDS concession rights under the Transaction Agreements.

  2. Lift the suspension of the LAA, BSA and GSA.

  3. Cause the Energy Commission to lift the suspension of PDS’ Retail Supply license.

And in return, the MCC would carry out the following two actions:

  1. Release to MiDA the Tranche II Funding and permit such funding to be com- mitted to the approved contracts under the Compact Multi-Year Financial Plan.

  2. Authorize the resumption of activities toward the development of a regional compact involving Ghana.

The MCC also asked the GOG to commit “to work expeditiously with the relevant parties to complete the resolution or waiver of the remaining Conditions Subsequent to the LAA to the mutual satisfaction of all.”

At that meeting, the MCC demanded, without flinching, that Finance Minister Ofori-Atta should sign on the dotted line of the “principles and action steps” by midnight October 18 or they would issue a “de-obligation letter” that would effectively end Compact 2. Ofori-Atta and Bediatuo Asante pleaded for more time, until October 21, to enable them “complete internal consultations” on the matter but the Americans were unrelenting and a bit harsh on the president’s cousins. This forced them to reluctantly agree that the government would provide a response by midnight of October 18.

Besides the loss of US$190 million from the MCC under the Ghana Power Compact, the cancellation of the concessionaire has meant an additional loss of US$580 million as well as several other huge deals. Put all together, Ghana is losing nearly US$2 billion because of the termination of the PDS concession and its consequences.

The termination

By close of day on October 18, Finance Minister Ofori-Atta issued a statement on behalf of the Ghana government terminating the PDS concession.

In his statement, Ofori Atta cared to “reiterate the position communicated to the CEO of the MCC [Sean Cairncross] by the President of Ghana during their meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on September 23 to the effect that, the current concession had to be terminated in view of the facts uncovered regarding the failure by PDS to satisfy conditions precedent under the relevant transaction documents, and, however, every effort would be employed to ensure a suitable replacement within the relevant timelines in order to complete the Compact.”

“First of all,” Ofori Atta said, “it is the government’s view that the meeting between the CEO of MCC and the President of Ghana produced an understanding that the existing concession would be discontinued and a concession restoration and restructuring plan executed within existing timelines and in any event before December 31, 2019.

“It is worth recalling that following this understanding Mr. Cairncross [the MCC CEO] and President Akufo-Addo shook hands and committed to expeditiously put the understanding into effect. Following the meeting, however, MCC sent an implementation plan, which in our opinion did not accurately reflect the outcome of the New York meeting.”

So one meeting produced two outcomes, according to both Ofori-Atta and the MCC. The MCC insists that GoG agreed at the September 22-24 and October 15-18 meetings to reinstate the PDS agreement, while Ofori-Atta maintains that, particularly at the September 23 meeting attended by President Akufo Addo, it had been resolved to terminate the PDS concession. Thus, it is Akufo-Addo government’s word versus the word of the MCC.

Something that clearly does not have much foundation is Ofori-Atta’s refuge in the idea that because Cairncross and Akufo-Addo “shook hands” at the end of the September 23 meeting, they had reached an “understanding” to commit themselves to terminate the PDS agreement. The MCC disputes that claim, saying no such “understanding” was ever reached, even though the two leaders shook hands. But as everyone knows, shaking hands per se at the end of a meeting does not necessarily mean that anything was agreed upon, because everywhere in the world a handshake is only a courtesy shown to one another at the end of a meeting.

And Ofori-Atta said the government decision to terminate the PDS agreement was based on “two key points,” and these were that PDS provided “invalid and un- enforceable” demand guarantees and the consortium used funds from ECG operating accounts to pay for the charges for the issuances of the payment securities.

But according to sources, Ofori-Atta and Gadzekpo somehow got to know about the “invalid and unenforceable” demand guarantees sometime in March but withheld the information from all, and the government was also alerted in May that PDS had used ECG operating cash flow to pay for the cost of the insurance premium. Ofori-Atta and the government did not take any action then, so why now? And if the Ghanaian shareholders suspected of fronting for the president’s family had surrendered the shares without any resistance when they were asked to do so, would the Akufo-Addo government have used the “two key points” to terminate the PDS concession?

The timing of the suspension and termination of the PDS concession by the Akufo-Addo government, coming in the middle of a bitter fight between some members of the president’s family and the Ghanaian shareholders over shares, has made a lot of people question the motive of the government as to whether it is really protecting the interest of the country or that of the president’s family.

All the more so, considering the efforts of the president’s family to capture a share of the state.

The US$350 million question

In the government’s termination statement, Ofori-Atta said: “Following failure to receive satisfactory confirmation by IFC and Hutton and Williams [advisers to the ECG] of whether adequate due diligence had been performed on the validity of the demand guarantees purportedly issued by Al Koot, by a letter dated February 28, 2019, ECG took the initiative to ascertain from Al Koot itself proof of, or confirmation of, the due authorization for the execution of the demand guarantees by that firm.

“ECG also requested Al Koot to confirm compliance with relevant laws and regulations to which the demand guarantees would be subject, in relation to the substantial exposure in the total sum of US$350m that Al Koot had undertaken in favor of ECG.”

Yet the public is made to believe that notwithstanding “the substantial exposure in the total sum of US$350m”, Al Koot received ECG’s February 28 letter and did not respond to it immediately.

Ofori-Atta further wants the public to believe that though “ECG did not receive the requested confirmation and proof of due authorization from Al Koot by the Transfer Date”, but “out of a desire to ensure the occurrence of the Transfer, ECG was compelled to confirm acceptance of the form of the demand guarantees, with an expectation that upon receipt of satisfactory reply from Al Koot, it would subsequently confirm the demand guarantees in substance and in form. By a letter dated March 13, 2019, forwarded to ECG by MiDA, Al Koot purported to confirm the demand guarantees.”

Ofori-Atta says ECG was dissatisfied with the purported confirmation by Al Koot, and so “on June 24, 2019”, ECG, through MiDA, wrote again to Al Koot requesting relevant documents proving due authorization by Al Koot to the alleged signatory of the demand guarantees, Yahaya Al Nouri.

“However, on June 24, 2019,” Ofori Atta says, “ECG received a letter dated June 16, 2019 from Al Koot” in which it repudiated responsibility for the demand guarantees, claiming Al Nouri, not authorized by Al Koot, had committed a forgery in the issuance of the demand guarantees.

Ofori-Atta’s “June 24” and “June 16” dates are different from MiDA’s assertion. According to MiDA: “On Sunday, July 28, 2019, MiDA received a copy of a letter dated July 16, 2019 purportedly from Al Koot and addressed to ECG, in which Al Koot claimed that Yahya Al Nouri, the officer who executed the guarantees on behalf of Al Koot, was not authorized to do so, and that Al Koot was also not authorized to underwrite trade risks. It also claimed that an earlier letter received on March 13, 2019 from Al Koot on the same matter had been forged.”

Ofori-Atta also says that Akufo-Addo’s government wanting to establish “the primary fact of whether a valid demand guarantee was provided by PDS as a condition for the occurrence of the transfer of assets of ECG to PDS, mandated her mission in Qatar to visit the official premises of Al Koot in Doha. Al Koot, at the meeting with officers of the Ghana Embassy in Qatar held on July 30, 2019 [the day the Ghana government suspended the PDS agreement], affirmed the content of their letter of July 30, 2019.”

But there is no Al Koot letter dated July 30, 2019, yet there is an Al Koot letter dated July 16, 2019. Again, Ofori-Atta is mixing up the dates.

The critical point here is that Al Koot’s July 16 letter was the first time the company that had been exposed to a whopping US$350m risk by an officer who allegedly acted fraudulently to tie the company to that massive risk was “officially” communicating with the ECG via MiDA.

According to the Dery delegation report, “Al Koot asserted that the first time the matter of the purported issuance of demand guarantees as security for the LAA and BSA came to its attention was when the company received the first letter from the ECG dated February 28, 2019.”

The Dery team also found that ECG again wrote to Al Koot on March 15, 2019, and that letter, according to Al Koot, was intercepted by Al Nouri so Al Koot as a company did not receive it. In effect, ECG wrote three times to Al Koot trying to find out the same thing: the genuineness of the demand guarantees. The first letter was on February 28, the second on March 15, and the third on June 24. But it did not occur to Gadzekpo and ECG to use other means such as sending staff members or requesting officials of the Ghana Embassy in Qatar to go to Al Koot in Doha and verify those payment guarantees in person.

Based on his experience at Databank and the Enterprise Insurance Group, Gadzekpo is aware that in this kind of transaction, all parties involved must do their own due diligence on the various documents using alternative means other than the contact details on documents. It is a rule he well knew was important in business.

However, the “due diligence” of the ECG in mailing letter after letter to Al Koot and Gadzekpo, not making ECG do anything more than the mere sending of those letters to check on the validity of the demand guarantees, was clearly only a ruse to build a paper trail to cover his tracks because he suspected that some people knew he was aware that the demand guarantees were fake.

Perhaps the most important thing in the discourse of the PDS saga is the fact that Al Koot officially acknowledged that it had received ECG’s letter dated February 28, alerting the company to the US$350m risk. And still Al Koot claims to have done nothing at all – not calling, emailing or writing to the Ghana Embassy in Qatar, ECG or the Ghana government to notify them of such a massive fraud – this truly seems beyond all belief. That Al Koot waited five long months to “officially” respond to ECG on July 16 and also suspend Al-Nouri on July 21 for the serious crime he was supposed to have committed is simply not credible to most people; even more so when Al Koot’s net worth was US$170m and the value of the fraudulent transaction was US$350m – more than 200% of the company’s financial capacity.

Both of Al Koot’s actions – the July 16 letter and the suspension of Al-Nouri on July 21, which came at the height of the president’s family and the Ghanaian PDS shareholders’ fight over shares – are believed to have been undertaken by Al Koot to help Akufo-Addo’s government and its cronies with the excuse to cancel the PDS concession.

A tragic soap opera of greed

On top of that, then Al Koot officials also did not fully cooperate with the FTI investigation. K&L Gates, who assisted FTI with its inquiry in Qatar, reported that when they met with Al Koot officials to discuss the PDS demand guarantees, “the Al Koot team started by refusing to identify their names and roles within the company. Two individuals left the meeting room when K&L informed them that they needed to know the names and roles of the individuals present.”

But Al Koot received the government fact-finding delegation, the Dery team, with open arms and told the Dery group that the company could not possibly have issued those demand guarantees, mainly because of the following:

*The guarantees, valued at US$350m, were far larger than the net worth of Al Koot itself as a company and therefore well beyond its financial capacity. It is therefore the policy of the company not to insure any risks which it does not have the financial capacity to cover.

*Al Koot is not authorized by Qatari law to issue demand guarantees at all, and therefore the company does not have the mandate to engage in any counter-party and trade risk contracts which involve the issuance of demand guarantees.

Al Koot also confirmed to the Dery team that it did receive an ECG letter dated February 28, but chose not to reply. Strangely, the Dery team failed to ask Al Koot the all-important question: Why the company chose not to respond to the ECG at the time, despite the seriousness and urgency of the matter and then waited for five months, until July 16, to take any action?

The Dery team also did not bother to probe and see if even one official of Al Koot had made any contact whatsoever with anybody on the Ghanaian side regarding the PDS demand guarantees between February 28 and July 16.

It is suspected that Al Koot colluded with ECG Board Chairman Gadzekpo and Finance Minister Ofori-Atta to keep quiet about the fraudulent payment guarantees and released that vital information only when those fronting for the president’s family tried to outsmart them and the government needed “evidence” to terminate the deal, and so that’s exactly what this whole soap opera is all about.

The US$11.5 million question

Ofori-Atta said the second reason why the government terminated the PDS agreement was that “our investigations revealed that the local shareholders of PDS funded US$11.5 million of the US$12.5 million payments it made to procure the demand guarantees using funds taken from operating accounts.”

Yet nowhere in his termination statement did Ofori-Atta even remotely say when the government investigations were conducted and what the investigations were really about as the facts and records of this transaction were readily available at Cal Bank.

Though it is illegal for the PDS’ shareholders to use funds from ECG’s operating accounts to pay the bulk of the insurance premium charged by Cal Bank for the issuance of the payment guarantees, many people were surprised to hear the government raising this matter in October when it was long known by anybody who mattered in Accra as far back as May – from national security operatives to officials of Cal Bank and the Bank of Ghana. The question is: Why did the Akufo-Addo government keep mute over such an illegality and take no action for five months, only to make it a condition for terminating the PDS agreement in October? It is another mystery only the government can solve.

It is all these facts that appear to convince many people, perhaps including the American authorities, that the government’s termination of the PDS agreement has more to do with the desire by the key members of the president’s family and their cronies to capture the PDS shares for themselves and feeling betrayed by the Ghanaian shareholders who were fronting for them than any fraud that was committed by PDS.

Americans hit back

With the MCC Tranche II Funding of US$190m in jeopardy, Ofori-Atta offered a sop to the Americans by saying that: “Ghana is desirous of ensuring a successful completion of Compact II. As such, the Government of Ghana remains fervently dedicated to the ECG PSP Transaction and fully intends to conclude the PSP transaction within the remaining term of the Compact II Program.”

What is more, “whilst recognizing the prerogative of the MCC in the determination of a particular procurement method in the selection of a PSP, in view of the limited time (approximately two years) until the expiration of the Compact II Program,” Ofori Atta went on, “Ghana hereby recommends the adoption by the MCC/MiDA of a restricted tender process to replace PDS. This restricted tender process shall be undertaken timeously by fast-tracking some of the processes without compromising the integrity and transparency of the procurement processes.”

The Millennium Challenge Corporation ignored the finance minister’s idea of a restricted tender which most of the time is not transparent and breeds more corruption. And calling Akufo-Addo’s government’s decision to terminate the PDS concession “disappointing,” the MCC announced that “the US$190 million funds granted to Ghana for the 20-year concession from ECG to PDS are no longer available.”

“Moving forward,” the MCC said in a statement that “the U.S. Government, through MCC, will continue to implement the Tranche I funds of US$308 million [already disbursed] with the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA). This funding will continue to support important improvements to the infrastructure of Ghana’s southern distribution network, increase reliability and power access to key markets, and advance energy efficiency programs.”

So the Americans are insisting that, to them, whatever the Ghanaian government says about the PDS having committed fraud, the ECG-PDS concessionaire agreement was “successfully executed” on March 1, and still remains “valid”. Akufo-Addo’s government, therefore, finds itself in the unusual position off having eggs plastered all over its face when in fact, under normal circumstances, the eggs should be in PDS’ face.

A director of research at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), Dr. John Kwakye, says Ghana is likely to be denied about US$2 billion in funding for terminating the PDS concessionaire agreement. In addition to the loss of the US$190 million under the Ghana Power Compact, Dr. Kwakye was reported as saying “there is also the cancellation of the concessionaire which amounts to US$580 million, Ghana was also expected to benefit from a regional compact which amounts to US$400 million which has also been cancelled, and then a World Bank facility project which is related to the energy sector that amounts to US$500 million has also been cancelled. If you add all these up, we’re losing close to US$2 billion.”

Meanwhile, the ECG owes the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) in the country about US$1.5 billion, which is stifling their operations. And because of the ECG’s huge arrears, the IPPs have piled up debts of about US$400 million for gas deliveries, mostly to the Ghana National Gas Company and the West African Gas Pipeline Co., which supply the gas from Nigeria, all of which has now put the power sector in a perilous state.

“A sad day for us”

Reacting to the PDS scandal, former President Mahama said it “reflects the sad and worsening situation of state capture that we are increasingly experiencing under the Akufo-Addo administration.”

“For the MCC to withdraw US$190m of the funding amount is a sad day for us. This money was meant to improve the efficiency of our electricity utility corporation. Let me emphasize that, these shady happenings were absolutely avoidable,” Mahama said. “We are all disappointed by the self-serving decisions that were taken and the deliberate acts perpetuated by the Flagstaff House [seat of government] in the ECG concession agreement that have led us to where we are today. This is absolutely needless and could have been avoided.”

When news of the PDS scandal first broke, Mahama’s party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) called a press conference in Accra addressed by their general secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia. He told the assembled journalists: “The reckless manner in which the rules were bent by the government for PDS and the irresponsible manner in which the over GH¢20 billion [US$4 billion] worth of assets of ECG were handed over to PDS, highlight the prevailing atmosphere of corruption and leadership paralysis that we are currently witnessing under President Nana Akufo-Addo.”

Asiedu Nketia pointed out, crucially, that there was an element of state capture by the president’s extended family. “We wish to draw your attention to the real issues of state capture which per our investigations, lit the spark for this whole PDS inferno that now threatens the power distribution sector of Ghana.

“The finance minister justified his directive [to Akoto Ampaw] on the grounds that it would protect and preserve the indigenous ownership stake in PDS. We submit that this excuse is a fallacy. If we may ask, what is Ken Ofori-Atta’s locus and authority to give such a directive? Is he a shareholder, a beneficial owner or a conduit through which the president seeks to capture the electricity sector for personal benefit?”

Asiedu Nketia went on: “We are convinced without a shadow of doubt that the needless, baseless and illegal attempt by Ken Ofori-Atta to restructure the shareholding of PDS is nothing but a well- calculated attempt by President Akufo-Addo and his relatives to appropriate the 51% Ghanaian shareholding in PDS for themselves with the objective of taking control of Ghana’s power distribution sector for the next 20 years – up to 2039.”

Continuing, he said according to “unimpeachable sources, the original Ghanaian shareholders rebelled. It is this defiance that outraged the Akufo-Addo faction and occasioned the suspension of the PDS concession with the hope that the resulting pressure would force the compliance of the original shareholders. Their plan was to use the public outrage over the accusation to blackmail and bully the original shareholders to get in line. But the firecracker they launched has turned into a thermonuclear bomb that has exposed their wicked greed.”

And when the government finally terminated the PDS deal on October 18, the NDC again called a press conference addressed by Asiedu Nketia, and condemned Ofori-Atta’s suggestion of a restrictive tendering process to replace the PDS.

“This is not an option that Ghanaians and the MCC should even consider. It is a no no. Ghanaians can never and should never trust the very same Ofori-Atta, Keli Gadzekpo, Esson Benjamin, Dr. Bawumia and President Akufo-Addo who caused this PDS mess to do any thorough job. There is too much corruption in their DNA,” Asiedu Nketia said, adding that “the proposal to use restrictive tendering to select a replacement for PDS is yet another well-calculated scheme to allow the Akufo-Addo government to cook the ECG concession for themselves. “

Generally, the public reaction to the PDS scandal has mirrored the sentiments expressed by the NDC. For example, when adding his voice to the PDS outrage, Dr. Steve Manteaw, the chairman of the Public Interest Accountability Committee, said: “The reason we are where we are today is that the parties who had conspired to shortchange this country [in the ECG-PDS concession] could not agree on how to share the booty. … I’m pretty sure things did not work out and so all these allegations of irregularities [by the PDS] may have been cooked up to form the basis to terminate [the PDS concession].”


This government corruption scandal is so outrageous and its fingerprints so clear that there must be a full legal accounting of what has transpired, and those so blatantly involved in such an ugly set of criminal events must be fully outed and then brought to justice. No African nation that even pretends to carry on with a democratic form of government can allow this level of insider criminality to go unpunished, and Ghana should be no exception. In truth, it is high time for Ghana to be a leader on that path to accountability and justice.

It is shameful and obvious that the PDS scandal arose because of the greed of certain key members of Akufo-Addo’s extended family who want to capture as many state resources as they can possibly grab for themselves.

It is worth repeating that President Akufo-Addo has proudly said he “did not come into public life to enrich himself”, but then how can he even begin to explain these blatant attempts to capture state resources by certain key members of his extended family and their cronies? And all of it happening under his watch, while the entire time the president is looking away as this state capture continues! He sees nothing. Hears nothing. So therefore, he knows nothing!

Well, the people now know enough to demand that justice be brought to bear, and a full inquiry to connect the corrupt dots of this blatant corruption scandal must be made, and then those connections must be followed, wherever they may lead – even if they point all the way to the top.

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