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Opinions of Monday, 3 February 2020

Columnist: Ernest Kofi Owusu Bempah

Ernest Kofi Owusu Bempah writes: The Airbus corruption and John Mahama's woes

Documents emanating from the UK Serious Fraud Office(SFO) and the Deferred Prosecution Judgement(DPA) have mentioned Ghana in a damning verdict.

We are reading that Airbus has agreed to pay €3.6bn in penalties to regulators in France, UK, and US for paying bribes to do business in several countries, including Ghana.

The fifth count alleges that contrary to section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010, between 1 July 2011 and 1 June 2015 Airbus SE failed to prevent persons associated with Airbus SE from bribing others concerned with the purchase of military transport aircraft by the Government of Ghana, where the said bribery was intended to obtain or retain business or advantage in the conduct of business for Airbus SE.

It continues that between 2009 and 2015 an Airbus defence company engaged Intermediary 5, a close relative of a high ranking elected Ghanaian Government official (Government Official 1) as its BP in respect of the proposed sale of three military transport aircraft to the Government of Ghana. A number of Airbus employees knew that Intermediary 5 was a close relative of Government Official 1, who was a key decision maker in respect of the proposed sales.

A number of Airbus employees made or promised success-based commission payments of approximately €5 million to Intermediary 5. False documentation was created by or with the agreement of Airbus employees in order to support and disguise these payments. The payments were intended to induce or reward “improper favour” by Government Official 1 towards Airbus."

Paragraph 136 of the US Court documents actually described Government official I as having a reputation for bribe taking.

It reads:

"Government Official 1" had such a reputation as a prolific bribe-collector that within three weeks of the election of the incoming Government, AND BEFORE IT WAS SWORN IN, Airbus reached agreement with brother of "Government Official 1," described in the US version of Court documents as "Individual 1."

Paragraph 170 of the Statement of Facts of the American court documents has established that false documentation was created by or with the agreement of Airbus employees in order to support and disguise these payments. THE PAYMENTS WERE INTENDED TO INDUCE OR REWARD IMPROPER FAVOUR BY THE GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL 1 TOWARDS AIRBUS."

Indeed, payment of bribes were made and received and the beneficiary was GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL 1. Again, documents were falsified in making the payments to disguise the payment of bribes to GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL 1.

GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL 1 is on the record of the Court as the recipient of the corrupt proceeds from this transaction.

According to the documents, INTERMEDIARY 5 stood to gain €5M in the Airbus saga. But who is Intermediary 5? The deferred prosecution agreement provides the following lead that could be used by our own law enforcement officials:

“Intermediary 5 is a UK national born in Ghana. He was brought to the United Kingdom as a young child and lost touch with his Ghanaian family until the late
1990s. He had no prior experience or expertise in the aerospace industry. A “CV” provided to Airbus in 2011 listed Intermediary 5’s employment before 2009 as an events manager for a local authority, director of a football merchandising company and facilities manager for an estate management business.”

The protagonist have agreed to have committed the crime, and this has made it very easy for any country mentioned in that case to ‘fish’ out the culprits involved. It’s an open court admission and so any country interested can always seek for clarity and specifics from either the court or the UK SFO.

All the leads provided in the ruling makes it easy for anyone to know the personalities involved. It’s a colossal one and there’s already a transcript of Hansard in parliament in relation to these matters; there’s also evidence of Mills activating investigations into these matters of which parliament extensively debated on.

The minority then raised the initial alarm but as usual it was discarded for political correctness reasons. The period provided and the specific background given about the intermediary 5 is enough evidence to know who exactly the court was referring to. The thing unclear is how much of the total bribery amount these intermediary 1&2 took.

Indeed there was a 3-Member Committee with a membership of Mr. William Aboah, Mr. George Amoah and Brig. Gen. Allotey (Rtd) that the late Prof. Atta-Mills established to investigate John Dramani Mahama on the Processes of the Acquisition of Five(5) Aircrafts including Embraer 190 Aircraft and hanger for the Ghana Armed Forces -GAF.

Upon the untimely demise of Prof Mills in 2012, John Mahama dissolved the Committee, forgetting that their establishment and existence was not a secret to some top officials of government at the time especially Martin A.B. K. Amidu. It is therefore not surprising that an international court has found Airbus Inc guilty of paying huge sums of bribe to a Ghanaian official for the approval their fictitious deals in Ghana.

Excerpts of Judge Dame Victoria Sharp’s verdict on the matter simplified my thoughts:
“The seriousness of the criminality in this case hardly needs to be spelled out. As is acknowledged on all sides, it was grave. The conduct took place over many years. It is no exaggeration to describe the investigation it gave rise to as worldwide, extending into every continent in which Airbus operates.

The number of countries subject to intense criminal investigation by the various agencies, and the scale and scope of the wrongdoing disclosed in the Statement of Facts demonstrate that bribery was to the extent indicated, endemic in two core business areas within Airbus.”

People, don't believe the untruths that Ghana never lost any money. Read the US Justice Dept version. The close brother of government official 1 even chased the remaining €72,000 unpaid financial engineering money.

The Akufo-Addo government has done the needful by triggering the investigative processes to unmask the true identity of the codenamed individuals involved in this massive web of corruption.

While they are at it, let no one be deceived. These are just the tip of the iceberg of Mahama's corruption deals.

It is after the frog died that its full length will be approximately measured.
I can only wish Mahama well in this frightening times.

I shall be back.

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