THE Bank of Ghana (BoG) has dismissed Mr. Gilbert Addy, one of its officials, for bribery and corruption in the $4 billion Sibton Switch Systems Limited case.
He is said to have received secret payment of GH¢410,000 in respect of the award of a contract to Sibton Switch Systems Limited in 2016 by the previous management of the central bank.
A statement issued yesterday by BoG said, “Bank statements have revealed that secret and corrupt payments of GH¢410,000.00 were made by Sibton Switch Systems Limited and its parent company, Sibton Communications Limited, to Mr. Addy at BoG, via a shelf company, GIB JUST Systems Limited, which was owned by him. Indeed, he was listed as Director and Shareholder of the Company.”
The bank said on the April 9, 2018, Sibton filed a Request for Arbitration at the International Dispute Resolution Centre (IDRC) of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) against BoG for breaching the master agreement for the Ghana Retail Payment Systems Infrastructure entered into by the two parties.
It said after the 2016 elections and on the appointment of a new management for BoG, the terms of the contract entered into by the previous administration were reviewed.
It said the new management found out that Sibton had neither acquired the licence nor fulfilled the condition precedent for the effectiveness of the rights and obligations of the parties.
“The Agreement, which dealt with the grant of exclusive rights to Sibton Switch to build, operate and own the Ghana Retail Payment Systems Infrastructure was therefore terminated on the basis that it never came into effect.”
It said Sibton Switch then filed a case at LCIA seeking $478 million from BoG as reliefs.
“These corrupt payments and bribes were uncovered by the Bank’s International Legal Counsel, Hogan Lovells, during their preparation of the bank’s defence to the arbitration claim brought by Sibton Switch, in respect of the terminated contract.”
“As part of their preparation for the hearing in London, the International Legal Counsel undertook two fact finding and investigative missions to Ghana from 14th –17thAugust, 2018 and subsequently from 8th –17th May, 2019, to gather and collate evidence.”
According to the statement, the investigations revealed a sham contract signed between Sibton Switch Limited and GIB JUST Systems Limited, which showed that further payments totalling $500,000 (GH¢2.7 million) were to be paid to Gilbert Addy.
The investigation also revealed the depth of involvement of Mr. Addy, “who deliberately concealed the payments received from the Bank of Ghana and the $500,000 sham contract with Sibton Switch Ltd.”
Mr. Addy deleted his email records to hide his misconduct but BoG and its international lawyers were able to retrieve the records concealed from email backups.
It said these corrupt payments were also concealed from EOCO during their initial investigations into the Sibton Switch contract in early 2017.
BoG has described the misconduct by Mr. Addy as a very serious one and a gross violation of the trust placed in him, breaching the bank’s Code of Conduct for staff, the Senior Staff Rules and Conditions of Service, as well as the bank’s Code of Ethics.
According to the bank, Mr. Addy was the Project Manager who led the interoperability project whose role was to safeguard the bank’s interests in the project but instead, he accepted huge bribes (which were more than14 times his annual salary at the Bank of Ghana).
Previous management connivance
“It appears that the entire bidding process for the procurement of Sibton Switch was managed with the knowledge of the previous leadership of the Bank of Ghana in 2016, who appeared to be under intense pressure to deliver the contract to Sibton Switch Limited.
The statement said for instance that “the Public Procurement Authority approval for the project provided that the Bank of Ghana’s maximum liability was to be GH¢300,000. Contrary to this approval, the corruptly procured contract with Sibton Switch provided that the Bank of Ghana had a huge potential liability of $478 million (GH¢2.6 billion).”
33 times expensive
The tender price, according to the central bank, “was more than 33 times expensive than the next most expensive bid; however, Mr. Addy, under the supervision of the management at the time, ensured that Sibton Switch won the bid.”
Following the termination of the contract with Sibton Switch in 2017, BoG’s subsidiary, GhIPSS, began delivering mobile payment systems interoperability at a small fraction of the cost, saving the taxpayers billions of cedis.
Update on Arbitration
The arbitration brought by Sibton Switch is currently suspended due to Sibton Switch’s failure and inability to comply with an interim award issued by the Tribunal.
“To date, Sibton Switch has not been able to comply with this Order of the Court,” the statement added.
BY Melvin Tarlue