Gloria Afua Akuffo
Attorney General (AG) Gloria Afua Akuffo has taken a swipe at those she said were making spurious claims that she was ‘sidelined’ in the decisions leading to the formation of the special purpose vehicle (SPV) called Agyapa Royalties that was going to manage the consolidation of all the country’s potential mineral income in one fund.
She said she actively participated in every decision taken to get the Agyapa deal done, and it was executed through “the normal channels of government business.”
“I have been quiet all this while because President Akufo-Addo did not appoint me as AG to do radio politics. This Agyapa thing is serious business, and we acted professionally in the interest of the government and the people of Ghana,” she said on ‘Oman FM’ yesterday.
Speaking in Twi, the AG said “I was not sidelined. I was actively involved. I just do not go out talking about it. This is not radio matter.”
She said they followed a rigorous process before the whole deal landed in Parliament and added that there were about eight different groups that worked to tighten the draft covering the deal, adding “it was not done by one person sitting in a corner.”
“It was a transparent process which started in 2019. The Solicitor General worked on it before it came to me. It is not true that I did not know what was going on. Those making the claims are doing propaganda,” she pointed out.
She said “we did meetings upon meeting to fine-tune the deal. We travelled a long way before it got to Parliament and we followed due process at every step,” adding “kindly disregard the so-called drafts in the public domain claiming I was against the deal. It was all part of the process to get to where we are today.”
On the legal representation as transaction advisors, the AG said that their services went through all the procurement processes under law and added that the deal was ‘novel’ in Africa and they needed those who had expertise in such areas to serve as advisors.
Since last week, the government, through the Ministry of Finance, has been explaining that Agyapa Minerals Limited is 100 per cent owned by Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF) Act, 2018 (Act 978), which is also 100 per cent owned by government, and that there are no ‘hidden beneficiaries’ but opponents of the deal are adamant in their opposition that it will serve the interest of the country.
A group calling itself an alliance of civil society organizations (CSOs) working on extractives, anti-corruption and good governance has been ‘firing’ from all cylinders, claiming that some elements in the government have ‘huge’ interests in the whole deal but could not name those with the ‘interests’.
They further claimed that there had not been ‘full disclosure’ on those behind the SPV (Agyapa Royalties) despite the deal going through Parliament before MIIF was empowered to commence the deal on behalf of the government.
Another member of IMANI-Africa, Bright Simmons, claimed on ‘Joy FM’ on Saturday that the AG had written a letter expressing her disapproval to certain aspects of the deal and said she abandoned her ‘line of advice’ in a second letter after meeting the Finance Minister.
Even though Ms. Akuffo, until yesterday, had not publicly commented on the matter, various media outlets had claimed she described the deal as ‘onerous’, ‘unconscionable’ and a violation of the Bank of Ghana Act, and had also claimed that she changed her mind after several meetings with those working on the transaction.
Mr. Simmons even said that “we were surprised that the Attorney General will abandon that line of advice because we think it is critical.”
Ms. Akuffo said yesterday that if the Ministry of Finance had wanted to do anything untoward, they would not have reverted to the AG’s office for official advice, saying “we scrutinized every document and based on that we were able to give our official advice on the whole deal.”
Explaining the deal last Thursday, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta insisted that there were no hidden shareholders, saying “it is a clean transaction as far as I know and we are just looking for ways to maximize value and to play in the game that our multinationals play; and now we have the skill set to be able to do that.”
He said, “As far as I know, it (Agypa Royalties deal) has been as transparent as you can see it; it has gone through Parliament on many levels, gone through Cabinet on many levels and there is truly nothing to hide except creating something new that may be uncomfortable but it is something new that is going to stand us in great order.”
“There are those who say we should be careful not to mortgage or sell today the gold in the ground for future generations. First of all, this is not the case,” he said and explained, “But I have two questions for those who raise these concerns. If it is okay for the foreign investor who holds the concession to sell what is in the ground upfront, then why not us? But more importantly, why is it okay to borrow today for the future and not good to use our resources to leverage assets for tomorrow.”
“We must be creative to expand our sources of raising income to support our development. We are in a hurry to catch up. Every year, every generation we wait, we keep people and families stuck in the abyss of poverty and suffering,” he added.
The minister also said that “we are excited about the listing of Agyapa in London by the end of the year. It creates the first royalty company of that nature in Africa,” adding, “It is really sad that for a country that has been mining gold since the 15th century with the Portuguese, we still don’t have any international listing company either in gold or even cocoa. This must come to an end and we believe this is a strong statement to register Ghana’s presence, going forward.”
Mr. Ofori-Atta further said that was part of the ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ agenda, insisting “five hundred times more gold is traded every day than is mined; much of this happens in countries that have virtually no gold to themselves. President Akufo-Addo says to achieve ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’, we must add considerable value to what we produce and trade.”
Agyapa In Retrospect
The government, through the MIIF, set up Agyapa Royalties Limited to receive money which the country is supposed to earn from gold royalties.
In exchange, the company will be making between $500 million and $750 million for Ghana and London stock exchanges to invest in developmental projects.
Agyapa Royalties Limited initially was incorporated as Asaase Royalties Limited in a British channel island, Jersey, a tax haven, and would be responsible for managing 75.6 per cent of Ghana’s royalty inflow from the 12 gold mining companies currently operating in the country, with four more preparing to come in.
By Ernest Kofi Adu