The conversation surrounding the emerging Airbus bribery scandal does not seem to be going away anytime soon.
Recent developments have revealed that some NPP Members of Parliament, then in the Minority, raised questions when the deal was brought before the house in 2011.
Hansard from July 20, 2011, shows that concerns were raised with regards to the cost of the two military aircrafts the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government wanted to procure at the time.
Citinewsroom reports that the then Minority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah was skeptical about the manner in which the processes to purchase the aircraft, were rushed through.
9 years on, the blowback of the decision has come to bite them in the butt.
James Klutse Avedzi, who was the Chairman of the Finance Committee at the time, submitted the committee’s report on the motion to secure a loan from the Deutsche Bank Sociedad Anonima Espanola (Spain) in order to purchase two C-295 Military Aircraft for the Ghana Armed Forces.
During the debate, however, Mr. Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu stated that he had made some findings of the price of the C-295, which was captured on Airbus’ website as US$22 million but was shocked to see that the documents tabled before the house had been pegged at €24 million each for the aircraft.
“… Mr Speaker, the cost price of the C-295, the Shell is US$22 million from the manufacturers –– their own website. Here, we are saying that it is €24.5 million. Again, you wonder where these figures are being conjured from…
“Mr Speaker, the 24.5 million euros certainly, is going to be in the region of about US$35 million –– US$35 million for the purchase of one, when we know that the manufacturers themselves are saying that the cost of the C-295, also known as ‘Persuader’ is going for US$22 million,” he explained.
Mr. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu further intimated in dismay at how within the space of 24 hours, the document had been sent to Attorney General’s office for advice, forwarded to the Minister for Finance and sent to the office of the President for executive approval.
“Mr Speaker, the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice proffered his opinion on it on 21st June 2011. The same day, it went to the Hon Minister for Finance and Economic Planning and on the same day, he also okayed it and sent it to the Presidency –– the Office of the President –– on the same day, 21st June 2011, we had Executive approval. Aba! Aba! What is this,” he quizzed.
But in response, MP for Ayawaso East, Alhaji Mustapha Ahmed challenged the then Minority Leaders’ position, insisting that the amount he submitted comprised of the shell of the aircraft.
“Mr Speaker, the price on the internet refers to the Shell price of an aircraft. Mr Speaker, what we are dealing with is the operational price of the aircraft.”
The loan agreement was eventually approved by Parliament after Seth Terkpeh, then the Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning.
A London High Court found Airbus guilty and imposed a fine of three billion pounds (£3bn) as penalties.
The prosecutor stated in court: “Between July 1, 2011, and June 1, 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”.
With regards to Ghana, the report further stated that Airbus “between 2009 and 2015 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 aircraft to the government of Ghana.”
Many have since highlighted the Mills and Mahama-led administrations as overseeing the said transaction, thereby condoning corruption.
The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu says a brother of former president John Mahama was involved in the procurement of the two Airbus C-295 aircraft between 2009 and 2015.
He said Mahama’s brother was with the then Minister for Defence, Lieutenant General Joseph Henry Smith and other officials who visited Airbus offices overseas as part of processes to procure the aircraft.
“Some of us raised these matters even then in 2011, that how come his [Mahama] own brother was with General Smith in Brazil, Spain and in France in the purchase of these things [aircraft],” he said in a Citi News interview.
We are getting there….