Power Purchase Bribery Scandal: “I appeared before investigative body” – John Jinapor confirms

Former Deputy Minister of Power under the Mahama administration, John Jinapor, has said he played no frontal role on negotiations that led to Ghana’s purchase of a power plant in 2015.

Mr Jinapor has however confirmed that he had appeared before an investigative body concerning the alleged bribery.

According to him, the then Power Minister, Kwabena Donkor was the government’s representative on major discussions on the project.

His comment follows a report from the United States of America’s Securities and Exchange Commission which indicts some former government officials and legislators.

The reports say the officials were influenced with bribes totalling $4.5million by intermediaries of a Turkish energy company in a bid to land a power deal with the Ghana government.

Speaking in an interview on Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen, Mr Jinapor said even though he was a Deputy Power Minister at the time the alleged bribery occured, he was not directly involved in any negotiations.

“As a deputy minister, I act on the instructions of a minister and was not assigned to this deal so I cannot be directly involved in this AKSA bribery scandal. I have appeared before an investigative body on this AKSA issue but said what I knew,” he said.

He added he is clear in his conscience on the AKSA bribery scandal and ready to appear before any investigative body.

Meanwhile, the report also fingered the Managing Director of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), Mr Asante Berko who is said to have facilitated the payment of the bribes.

Blame Game? “Kwabena Donkor led discussions on AKSA deal not me” – John Jinapor reveals identity Gov’t official one in the deal

A deputy Power Minister under the erstwhile Mahama administration, John Jinapor, has revealed the identity of the government official who led negotiations on the purchase of a power plant project in 2015.

It has emerged that some government officials were influenced with bribes totalling $2.5million by intermediaries of a Turkish energy company in their bid to land a power deal with the Ghanaian government.

The report appears to have ruffled feathers in the camp of the former government and John Jinapor has moved to distance himself from the allegations.

According to John Jinapor, he played no frontal role in the purchasing of the power plant.

He confirmed that the substantive Power Minister then, Kwabena Donkor was the government’s representative on major discussions on the project.

He however expressed conviction that his former boss did due diligence and acted in the interest of Ghana.

He also appealed to Ghanaians to be circumspect with commentaries on the scandal as trails are yet to start on the matter.

“I was deputy power minister when this bribery issue happened but not directly involved. As a deputy minister, I act on the instructions of a minister so I cannot be directly involved in this AKSA bribery scandal. I wasn’t directly involved or assigned to this AKSA deal so I cannot give details to the said bribery issues”

“I worked with Kwabena Donkor as deputy where this AKSA deal happened. He did his best and left but never assigned me to the AKSA thing. The minister Kwabena Donkor did not assign me to anything involving the AKSA deal. I cannot give details on what happened. One should be careful discussing this whole AKSA bribery scandal because the trial is yet to begin”.

Meanwhile the Managing Director of Tema Oil Refinery who has been charged by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission for ‘orchestrating a bribery scheme’ has rejected the charges.

Asante Berko described as false, claims of him paying bribes to government officials and members of Parliament.

“My attention has been drawn to reportage in the local and international news media, as well as documents in social media on the morning of 14th April 2020. The essence of the story is that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States has issued civil proceedings against me, alleging that I bribed government officials and members of Parliament in Ghana to enable a Turkish IPP secure a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).”

“While it is true that the SEC has just this week issued such proceedings against me, the allegations that government officials and members of Parliament were bribed by me, are completely false. I am therefore compelled to set the record straight,” he said in a statement.

Source: http://www.ghanaweb.com

“Bribery Charges Against Me False” – TOR Boss clears himself

The Managing Director of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) Asante Berko has denied claims by the US authorities that he bribed some former Ghana government officials for his client in a plant project while working for Goldman Sachs.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Asante Berko, a former employee at a subsidiary of the U.S. lender, arranged the bribes for a Turkish energy company to funnel the money to a Ghana-based intermediary, which then paid the local officials.

“Goldman Sachs fully cooperated with the SEC’s investigation and as stated by the SEC in its press release, the firm’s compliance personnel took appropriate steps to prevent the firm from participating in the transaction,” company spokeswoman Nicole Sharp said.

“Berko helped the Ghana-based intermediary pay more than $200,000 in bribes to various other government officials, and personally paid more than $60,000 to members of the Ghanaian parliament and other government officials, the SEC statement said, adding that Berko took deliberate measures to prevent his employer from detecting the bribery scheme,” a statement by the US authorities noted.

However, in response, the TOR boss said he is innocent of the charges against him.

“My attention has been drawn to reportage in the local and international news media, as well as documents in social media on the morning of 14th April 2020. The essence of the story is that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States has issued civil proceedings against me, alleging that I bribed government officials and members of Parliament in Ghana to enable a Turkish IPP secure a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).”

“While it is true that the SEC has just this week issued such proceedings against me, the allegations that government officials and members of Parliament were bribed by me, are completely false. I am therefore compelled to set the record straight,” he said in a statement.

He said he was never involved with the local firm cited by the American authorities.

Below are details of his response:
My attention has been drawn to reportage in the local and international news media, as well as documents in social media on the morning of 14th April, 2020. The essence of the story is that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States has issued civil proceedings against me, alleging that I bribed government officials and members of Parliament in Ghana to enable a Turkish IPP secure a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).

“While it is true that the SEC has just this week issued such proceedings against me, the allegations that government officials and members of Parliament were bribed by me, are completely false. I am therefore compelled to set the record straight.

I was indeed an employee of Goldman Sachs up until December 2016. Sometime in 2014, Goldman Sachs was involved in the structuring of the transaction with the view to financing it. This was during the period of energy crisis in Ghana where the country needed to fix its power supply as a matter of urgency. I was part of the Goldman Sachs team that was to arrange the financing for this power transaction on behalf of the Turkish IPP. The chronology of event material to the transaction are as follows:

• The PPA was negotiated and executed between February and April 2015. It received the approval of Parliament in July 2015.

• Besides the funds the Turkish IPP was to raise to execute the transaction, the Government of Ghana was also to raise liquidity support for an LC of US$72m to enable the transaction reach financial close.

• The Government was unable to raise the liquidity support required.

• Goldman Sachs pulled out of the transaction for other reasons

I subsequently through my network, provided assistance to raise the requisite liquidity support to ensure the bankability of the PPA • In all we raised US$150m for the transaction, through a reputable international bank.

• The liquidity support raised to ensure that the LC was issued underpinned the raising of the US$150m by the Turkish IPP • The Turkish IPP agreed to pay me fee of US$2m (1.3% of the capital raise) as I had spent the bulk of two years working on this transaction

• Financial Close was achieved in August 2016 • My fees were paid in tranches, the first US$500,000 in September 2016 and the rest in December 2016 and January 2017, after I had resigned.

• Alongside this transaction, I worked on other transactions in Goldman Sachs prior to my resignation. My role after Goldman Sachs had pulled out, was exclusively limited and restricted to advising in raising the liquidity support required for the transaction. I also advised the Turkish IPP in the procurement of its US$150m finance from a bank of international repute. My role was confined to international activities to procure the requisite financing.

I had no role whatsoever in any activities in Ghana relating to the transaction except for any related matters in procuring international finance. I was not instrumental in the Turkish IPP’s dealings with government officials and members of Parliament. Indeed, that was not my role. The Turkish IPP specifically engaged a local company to provide it with whatever services it required in Ghana. I was in no way involved in the operations of this local company. In particular payments from the Turkish IPP to the local company.

Exposed: Presidential Approval on the 2015 power deal bribery scandal pops up

aobrempongnana.wordpress.com has sighted an alleged secret and confidential document that gave Presidential assent or Executive Approval in respect of emergency power agreement between the Government (Ministry of Power) and AKSA ENERJI URETIM as for the provision on a fast track basis of 370MW (150) installed capacity of power delivery service

Check below:

Bribery Scandal: TOR MD charged for arranging 2.5million dollars for government official, MPs in 2015/17 power deal

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged a former banker at Goldman Sachs Group Inc, for “orchestrating a bribery scheme” and arranging at least $2.5 million in bribes to be paid to Ghana government officials and also bribing Members of Parliament.

The payment was allegedly made to gain approval for a client’s power plant project from “2015 through at least 2016,” according to court documents from New York.

The government officials, along with the companies, are not named in the court documents.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said the former banker in question, one Asante Berko, arranged the bribes for a Turkish energy company to funnel the money to a Ghana-based intermediary.

The local company then allegedly made the payments to government officials.

“From approximately 2015 through at least 2016 (the “relevant period”), while employed at the Subsidiary [Goldman Sachs Group Inc], Berko schemed to bribe various government officials in the Republic of Ghana (“Ghana”) so that a client of the Subsidiary, a Turkish Energy Company (the “Energy Company”), would win a contract (the “Power Purchase Agreement”) to build and operate an electrical power plant in Ghana and sell the power to the Ghanaian government (the “Power Plant Project” or “Project”).”

Mr. Berko is reported to have arranged for the Energy Company to funnel between $3 million to $4.5 million to a Ghana-based intermediary company “to bribe various government officials responsible for approving the Power Plant Project.”

The Energy Company is said to have transferred at least $2.5 million of the planned $3 million to $4.5 million to the Intermediary Company.

“All or most of which was used to bribe Ghanaian government officials,” the court documents noted.

In addition to the bribes paid through the intermediary company, Mr. Berko also paid bribes to some Members of Parliament.

“By August 2015, Berko had paid bribes of at least $66,000 to members of the Ghanaian parliament and other government officials in his effort to obtain approval for the Power Plant Project.”

Mr. Berko is said to have also helped the Intermediary company pay smaller bribes, “totalling approximately $210,000, to various other government officials involved in the Power Plant Project.”

“These included bribes to a Ghanaian government official (“Government Official 2”) who assisted Government Official 1 on the Project, employees at the Ministry of Power who provided confidential information to the Intermediary Company concerning the Project, government engineers who assessed the Energy Company’s technology, and officials at other government agencies who reviewed the Project.”

The court documents said Mr. Berko was paid $2 million for “facilitating the bribery scheme.”

“Following his departure from the Subsidiary, Berko began providing consulting services for the Energy Company,” the documents also noted.

What Berko stood to ‘profit’
According to the court documents, Mr. Berko sought to “profit from the bribery scheme” in two ways.

Because he said to have been aware that the Subsidiary would earn over $10 million in fees if the Energy Company secured the Power Plant Project.

This, in turn, was expected to “enhance Berko’s performance and stature within the Subsidiary.”

Also, by at least July 2015, Mr. Berko was assured that the Energy Company “would secretly compensate him for arranging the bribe scheme.”

This was “unbeknownst to the Subsidiary and in violation of Berko’s employment agreement with the Subsidiary.”

Between September 2016 and February 2017, the Energy Company allegedly paid Berko $2 million for successfully coordinating the bribery scheme.

How he was ‘caught’
Mr. Berko is said to have taken “deliberate measures” to prevent his own firm and subsidiary’s compliance personnel “from discovering his corrupt scheme.”

First, Mr. Berko used his personal email rather than his work email “to arrange the bribery scheme in order to evade detection.”

“Berko knew that Subsidiary and/or Holding Company compliance personnel could review his work email as part of their periodic and/or project-related due diligence,” the court documents explained.

Secondly, Mr. Berko “intentionally failed to correct a critical document” meant for the Holding Company “that falsely stated that the Energy Company had not compensated any intermediaries or politically exposed persons in connection with the Power Plant Project.”

“Despite Berko’s efforts to conceal his misconduct, the Holding Company required additional due diligence to further assess the potential reputational risks associated with the Project and to address other concerns.

As part of this diligence, during March 2016, compliance personnel at the Subsidiary reviewed Berko’s emails and discovered the involvement of the Intermediary Company.

After interviewing Mr. Berko about the Intermediary Company, they began further investigations into the matter.

Find below a US SEC statement on the matter
The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday charged a former executive of a financial services company with orchestrating a bribery scheme to help a client to win a government contract to build and operate an electrical power plant in the Republic of Ghana in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

The SEC’s complaint alleges that Asante Berko, a former executive of a foreign-based subsidiary of a U.S. bank holding company, arranged for his firm’s client, a Turkish energy company, to funnel at least $2.5 million to a Ghana-based intermediary to pay illicit bribes to Ghanaian government officials in order to gain their approval of an electrical power plant project. The complaint further alleges that Berko helped the intermediary pay more than $200,000 in bribes to various other government officials, and Berko personally paid more than $60,000 to members of the Ghanaian parliament and other government officials. According to the complaint, Berko took deliberate measures to prevent his employer from detecting his bribery scheme, including misleading his employer’s compliance personnel about the true role and purpose of the intermediary company.

“As alleged in our complaint, Berko orchestrated a scheme to bribe high-level Ghanaian officials in pursuit of firm business and his own enrichment. Berko’s misconduct was egregious and individual accountability remains a key component to our FCPA enforcement efforts,” said Charles Cain, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s FCPA Unit. “The firm’s compliance personnel took appropriate steps to prevent the firm from participating in the transaction and it is not being charged.”

The SEC’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, charges Berko with violating the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA and federal securities laws. The SEC is seeking monetary penalties against Berko among other remedies.

The SEC’s case is being handled by Asita Obeyesekere and Paul G. Block of the FCPA Unit and Kathleen Shields, Mark Albers, and Marty Healey of the Boston Regional Office.

All you need to know as The Securities and Exchange Commission of the US charged Asante Berko with orchestrating a bribery scheme to help a client win a contract to build and operate a power plant in Ghana.

The Managing Director of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), Asante K. Berko has been charged under the United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

In a press release issued Monday April 13, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the US charged Berko with orchestrating a bribery scheme to help a client win a contract to build and operate a power plant in Ghana.

The SEC’s complaint which has been filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, charges Berko with violating the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA and federal securities laws. The SEC is seeking monetary penalties against Berko among other remedies.

The SEC alleges that 46-year-old Berko, a dual US and Ghana citizen who is a former executive of Goldman Sachs in London, a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. of the US, helped his firm’s client, a Turkish energy company, to funnel at least $2.5 million to a Ghana-based intermediary to pay illicit bribes to Ghanaian government officials in order to gain their approval of an electrical power plant project.

The SEC in its complaint, further alleges that Berko helped the intermediary pay more than $200,000 in bribes to various other government officials, and Berko personally paid more than $60,000 to members of the Ghanaian parliament and other government officials.

The SEC indicates that, Berko took deliberate measures to prevent his employer from detecting his bribery scheme, including misleading his employer’s compliance personnel about the true role and purpose of the intermediary company.

Berko who is currently living in Ghana was appointed the MD of the country’s only refinery at Tema in January 2020 following the resignation of its former MD, Mr. Isaac Osei.

“As alleged in our complaint, Berko orchestrated a scheme to bribe high-level Ghanaian officials in pursuit of firm business and his own enrichment. Berko’s misconduct was egregious and individual accountability remains a key component to our FCPA enforcement efforts,” said Charles Cain, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s FCPA Unit. “The firm’s compliance personnel took appropriate steps to prevent the firm from participating in the transaction and it is not being charged,” the SEC said in the release.

Among others court documents state the following:

On April 14, 2015, the Intermediary Senior Executive emailed Berko an invoice for $500,000 owed by the Energy Company, along with a schedule for funding the bribery scheme:

$1.5 million when the parties signed the Power Purchase Agreement;

$1.5 million when the Energy Company received a Letter of Credit from the government;

and $1.5 million when the power plant began operations.

The invoice contained specific instructions for the funds to be wired to the Ghana account of a shell company controlled by the Intermediary, via a New York correspondent bank.

On April 18, 2015, the Energy Company CFO updated Berko and the Intermediary Executive on the negotiations with the government:

“Hopefully once we have the green light tomorrow, we’ll send the contract for [the power plant] with all changes.”

He added: “[We are] planning to come on Monday with an extended team to have meetings [with the Government Electricity Company] on Tuesday.”

On April 19, 2015, the Intermediary Executive again urged Berko and the Energy Company CEO for the $500,000 in bribe money because “the intended recipient” – [Government Official 1] – “is on my case.”

The Intermediary Executive added:

“I am going to part with [$250,000] to [Government Official 1] on the basis that I will receive the same in due course. This will represent part payment to him as discussed.”

The Intermediary Executive then pressed “to have the [$1.5 million] also here in Ghana no later than end of this week or early part of the following [week]” because “[a]s agreed, certain payments will be made on signing [of the Power Purchase Agreement] and I believe all will be covered if you follow the above guidelines.”

The Energy Company CFO quickly agreed to the initial $500,000 fund transfer for Government Official 1, but expressed some confusion on the schedule.

Responding to the Intermediary Executive and Berko, he stated: “I have an invoice for $500k. That’s what you are referring to right, to be paid within this week? Then . . . [$1 million] at signing [the Power Purchase Agreement] and [$1.5 million] at [the signing of the Letter of Credit from the government].”

He then voiced concern about the lack of information from Government Official 1: “Why is there no news from [Government Official 1] [about the] extension and meeting on Tuesday, any news you can share?”

Replying to the Energy Company CFO and Berko that same day, the Intermediary Executive again emphasized the necessity for the bribe money:

“Please proceed as I stated earlier. It is in all our interest to make the necessaries [sic] are done now. [$500,000] now!!!”

He then reiterated the proposed schedule: “[$1 million] on signing [the Power Purchase Agreement] and $1.5 million on [signing the Letter of Credit]. As stated, I am getting concerned with [Government Official 1] and his resistance. I’ve decided to sort him out this week following recent developments and would advise that you have the same ready for me immediately upon signature.”

On Monday, April 20, 2015, the Energy Company’s CFO responded, copying Berko: “Money is ready, [but the Energy Company CEO] wants to talk to [the Intermediary Senior Executive] and [the PEP].” Shortly thereafter, he again emailed the Intermediary Executive and Berko to confirm the bribes:

“[$500,000] is coming today or tomorrow. [Please]pay [Government Official 1]. Let’s do the meeting on Tuesday and agree on 370 and the rest. Send [the] contract to [government official] and prepare for signing before Friday.”

On May 12, 2015, the Energy Company and the Ministry of Power signed the Power Purchase Agreement, triggering another milestone payment.

Berko, the Intermediary Executive, and the Energy Company Executives almost immediately arranged the next tranche of funding for the bribe scheme:

On May 12, 2015, the Intermediary Senior Executive emailed the Intermediary Executive an invoice for the Energy Company to provide an additional $1.5 million of funding that was intended to be used to further the bribery scheme.

On May 19, 2015, the Intermediary Executive forwarded the invoice for $1.5 million to the Energy Company CEO for payment. When, or soon after, this invoice was sent, Berko also knew, or was reckless in not knowing, that the funds requested by the Intermediary Company were to be used to bribe government officials to approve the Power Plant Project.

On May 22, 2015, the Energy Company wired $1.5 million to the Intermediary Company. These funds were wired from the Energy Company’s bank account in Turkey, through a New York-based correspondent bank, to a shell company bank account in Ghana under the control of the Intermediary Company.

On May 26, 2015, the Energy Company CEO emailed the Intermediary Executive a copy of a bank document confirming the payment. At or soon after the time of this payment, Berko knew that it had been made.d.On May 28, 2015, the PEP received $30,000 from the same bank account into which the Energy Company had transferred the $1.5 million and which the Intermediary Company used to facilitate the bribery scheme.

On June 11, 2015, Berko received $75,000 from the same bank account into which the Energy Company transferred the $1.5 million and which the Intermediary Company used to facilitate the bribery scheme.

On July 15, 2015, Berko emailed Intermediary Employee 1 his bank account information along with fund transfer instructions so that the Intermediary Company could wire him funds for the bribery scheme.

Berko’s fund transfer instructions specified that funds should be routed through a New York-based correspondent bank to Berko’s account at a bank in Ghana.

On July 17, 2015, the Ghanaian parliament ratified the Power Purchase Agreement, another of the milestones that triggered additional funding for the bribery scheme. That same day, Intermediary Employee 1 forwarded Berko’s bank account information and fund transfer instructions to the Intermediary Executive with the note: “[Berko] payments $33,800.”

Berko planned to use these funds to bribe (or to reimburse himself for bribes already made to) government officials, including members of parliament, to advance the Power Plant Project.62.On July 20, 2015, the Senior Intermediary Executive emailed the Intermediary Executive and Berko apprising them on the progress of their corrupt scheme:

“Just a quick update from my side and anything we can do to get some of the outstanding deliverables happening . . . .

Caught up with [Government Official 1] and I think we are aligned on how to proceed. He claims to have resolved the [Government Utility Company] issue so no problem from there and I agreed with him to do the needful for the boys there . . . .

I presume [Government Official 2] will do most of the required memo’s [sic] to get things moving.”

He then noted that “[the Intermediary Company is] due to issue a milestone invoice on parliamentary ratification” as “Funds [were] urgently required for next crucial steps.”

At that point, a dispute arose between Berko and the Intermediary Senior Executive concerning the amount of funding the Energy Company was obligated to provide to the Intermediary Company.

In particular, the Intermediary Senior Executive claimed that the Energy Company had agreed to fund $5 million for the bribery scheme and demanded a $1.5 million “milestone payment” of that agreed amount. Berko, however, maintained that the Energy Company had only agreed to fund a total of $3 million, and that no more funds were due.

Email communications on July 20, 2015 documented this dispute:

Berko, who was then in New York, promptly responded to the Intermediary Senior Executive’s July 20, 2015 email requesting a $1.5 million milestone payment. First, Berko stated that “a deal will be reached as [the Energy Company] is not in a position to renege as long as I am working on the project,” adding that “we need to also agree my split vis a vis [the Intermediary Company].”

Then Berko asserted that all milestone payments due had already been paid:

“With regards to invoices there is not one that can be raised at this stage . . . .

Based on the schedule [$1 million] was for signing and [$1 million] was for parliamentary approval . . . and last will be based on [the receipt of the Letter of Credit].”

The Intermediary Senior Executive continued to demand the additional payment. Later that day, he emailed Berko:

“[The] deal is for [$5 million] and hence the historical [$500,000] + [$1.5 million] and not [$1 million] + [$1 million] . . . .

[Therefore] there is [$1.5 million] due now (parliament) and another [$1.5 million for the Letter of Credit].”

Berko again disputed the amounts owed: “As far as I was concerned [the Energy Company] did not agree to 5 million and they are also saying the same thing. I will chalk down to misunderstanding rather than a devious attempt to screw anyone out of cash. I am doing my best to manage a relationship that will pay everyone millions of dollars and I hope it is appreciated as [it] is not easy to get counterparts that will pay out 2 million without a transaction closing.”

Berko knew, or was reckless in not knowing, that the funds discussed in these email communications were to be used to bribe government officials and/or otherwise facilitate the bribe scheme.