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AIRBUS SCANDAL TROUBLES NDC

…As Presidents Tasks Martin Amidu To Investigate

By Sammy Frempong

Electoral seasons are replete with dramatic revelations, allegations, and rumours. Such news appears more novel, attracts more attention and thus spreads faster and wider. Corruption is once again trending as the most dominant issue in the current presidential race, with both the NPP and NDC trading allegations across board. However, ahead of election 2020, none of these allegations  seem to have trended faster than Airbus, Europe’s largest aerospace multinational’s, confession to a High Court in London of paying huge bribes in order to secure contracts in Ghana, between 2009 and 2015.

Documents sighted by this paper, indicate that Ghana’s involvement in the issue led to Airbus being slapped a £3 billion fine by the British court is in connection to the purchase of a C-295 military transport aircraft between 2009 and 2015.

Airbus admitted to five counts of failing to prevent bribery, using a network of secret agents to pay large-scale backhanders to officials in foreign countries to land high-value contracts.

Response from NDC

Obviously  worried over the report of the  bribe scandal dangling around the neck of  main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), the party that formed government during the period in question has denied reports that Airbus paid bribes to some government officials during the administration of the late Prof. John Evans Atta-Mills and John Mahama.

According a statement signed by former Attorney General  & Minister for Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, the media reports on the issue did not capture the true reflection of the approved judgement of the case in the UK.

The statement read in part “Our attention has been drawn to media reports about a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) entered between Airbus SE and the United Kingdom Serious Fraud Office in respect of the practice of Airbus SE in paying commission to its agents and the use of those commissions”.

It continued  : “The reports alleging that Airbus SE paid bribes during the administration of President John Evans Atta Mills and John Dramani Mahama are false, misleading and do not reflect the Approved Judgment. Indeed, the Approved Judgment of the Crown Court of Southwark approving the DPA between Airbus and the UK Serious Fraud Office does not allege that any payment was made by Airbus to any Ghanaian Government official.

“It is therefore a gross distortion for the media to conclude that officials of the Ghana Government between 2009 and 2015 were bribed or paid any commissions by Airbus for the acquisition of the Casa C-295 aircrafts.” The statement said.

On the hand, the party’s General Secretary insists the move was orchestrated by government to divert attention.

According to John Asiedu Nketia, whenever the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) has its back to the wall, it comes up with certain issues to divert attention. 

“They are trying to divert the attention of the nation from the campaign against the creation of a new voters’ register and other burning issues. It is much ado about nothing,” he told Joy News yesterday. 

KWAKU AZAR REACTS

Professor Stephen Kwaku  Asare, known widely as Kwaku Azar, has also waded into the controversy, describing NDC’s press statement  as useless and premature.  He argues that the embattled plane maker claimed that it made payments through specific persons to the government official who was key in the company securing its deal. Therefore without identifying these persons who were involved in the well-thought-out scheme by Airbus to bribe its way into getting deals, the statement is not helpful.

“The only press statement that is ripe and useful at this time is one identifying GO1, I5, I6, I7, I8 and Company D” He said

GO1, 15, 16, 17 and 18 are various persons mentioned by Airbus as part of the syndicate that effected its bribery master plan using Company D as the vehicle to secure contracts in Ghana

Without knowing these people, “I am not sure that a press statement that payments have not been made to them is ripe”.

Further, the Airbus findings claim specific persons were involved in the criminal scheme and, in my opinion, only these specific persons can legitimately speak to the charges.

He said “I do not understand how anyone can issue a statement denying that payments have been made unless they speak for GO1, I5, I6, I7, I8 and Company D,” he explained in a post on his facebook wall.

Disclosures by Airbus that it paid bribes in Ghana have set a political storm with the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) which was in power during the purchase of the aircraft trying to dissociate its officials from the scandal while activists of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) are keen on milking as much political capital as possible from it, especially through social media.

MAHAMA WILL SUFFER BLOW

MANI President, Franklin Cudjoe also thinks  John Mahama’s presidential campaign towards the December 2020 elections, will definitely suffer a major blow,following the recent Airbus corruption scandal.
He said “It will have some ripple effect. That is why we need damages to unveil all of this. It is most likely that because it was his [Mahama] administration that has been fingered in this matter, definitely his campaign will take a bit of a hit to the extent that, although he has not been mentioned in particular, it was his administration that was involved– partially as a vice president and later, a president. I’m sure he’s had to take the heat just as we are apportioning blame to the presidency when there have been several acts of corruption under this administration.”

AKUFO ADDO TASKS AMIDU

As the two parties continue to trade wild allegations and sophistic counter allegations, President Akufo-Addo has tasked the Office of the Special Prosecutor to conduct an inquiry into the Ghanaian public officials said to have been engaged in the scandal.

In a statement signed by the Director of Communications at the Presidency, Eugene Arhin on Sunday, President Akufo-Addo has referred the issue to the Office of the Special Prosecutor “to collaborate with its UK counterparts to conduct a prompt inquiry to determine the complicity or otherwise of any Ghanaian government official, past or present, involved in the said scandal.”

The President, according to the statement, also wants “necessary legal action taken against any such official, as required by Ghanaian Law.”

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