March 31, 2022

Dismiss Suit On Agyapa: Ghana Urges ECOWAS Court

Ghana has asked the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice (CCJ) to dismiss a suit seeking to halt the implementation of the Gold Royalties Monetisation Transaction arrangement, popularly referred to as the Agyapa deal.

According to Ghana, the suit filed by three non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – Transparency International, Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), and the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC) was “meritless, frivolous, and a waste of the court’s time”.

A Chief State Attorney from the office of the Attorney-General (A-G), Dorothy Afriyie Ansah, on March 31, 2022, told the CCJ that the suit, premised on a corruption risk assessment by a former Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, had no basis.

“Page 64 of the Special Prosecutor’s report states that the assessment does not constitute formal investigations. So, it is suspected corruption and not that something had occurred,” she argued.

Mrs. Ansah, who was submitting Ghana’s defence to the CCJ, currently sitting in Accra, said the applicants had misconstrued the whole Agyapa deal.

She said the Agyapa deal sought to enhance the benefits Ghana derived from gold by monetising the royalties to help the government raise the needed revenue for development.

It was her case that the Agyapa deal was not meant to dissipate the country’s gold resources as alleged by the applicants, nor was it meant for some ‘politically exposed persons” as described by the applicants to enrich themselves.

Mrs. Ansah further contended that the applicants had failed to provide any evidence or any legally sound argument to show that the Agyapa deal violated the rights of Ghanaians.

The three NGOs dragged Ghana to the CCJ with a case that the Agyapa deal was susceptible to corruption, dominated by “politically exposed persons” and also violates the rights of Ghanaians to have permanent sovereignty over the country’s natural resources as provided under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

They, therefore, want the CCJ to order Ghana to suspend the Agyapa deal and engage in proper consultation with Ghanaians in order to come up with a deal, which they say, will be in the public interest.

Also, the applicants want the court to order Ghana to investigate all alleged acts of corruption associated with the deal, “and ensure that any alleged perpetrators are brought to justice.” and also engage in proper consultations.

Making a case for the suit, counsel for the applicants, Olumide Babalola, said the Agyapa deal, in its current form, was not in the best interest of Ghanaians as it would lead to the dissipation of the country’s gold resources.

According to him, the corruption risk assessment by Mr. Amidu was a clear indication that the deal was tainted with corruption and would destroy the rights of Ghanaians over their natural resources.

It was his argument that had the government of Ghana conducted proper consultations with Ghanaians, it would not have set up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) outside Ghana to control the Agyapa deal.

“If the Agyapa deal is for the people of Ghana, it must go through proper consultations. Let the people of Ghana, who are the supposed beneficiaries, have a say. Consult the people and perform impact assessment,” he said.

The court, presided over by Justice Edward Amoako Asante, would deliver its judgement on the case on July 13, this year.

Parliament passed the Minerals Income Investment Fund Act, 2018 (MIIF Act 978) with the key objective of maximising the county’s mineral wealth for the benefit of Ghanaians, while ensuring that receiving royalties from gold mining companies was sustainable.

The law was amended to enable it to incorporate subsidiaries and use it as a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to do business across the world.

The main subsidiary of the MIIF and holding company, Agyapa Royalties Investment Ltd, will be listed on the LSE, while its subsidiary, ARG Royalties Ltd, will be quoted on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), both through IPOs.

The company will be responsible for managing 75.6 percent of the country’s royalty inflow from the 12 gold mining companies that currently operate in Ghana, with four more expected to come on stream.

That will enable the country to raise about $1 billion to finance mining concessions in Ghana and across Africa.

In November 2020, President Akufo-Addo instructed the Minister of Finance to re-submit the agreements supporting the Agyapa deal to Parliament for the approval process to start all over again.

That followed the corruption risk assessment submitted by Mr. Amidu to the President.

Source: Graphic

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