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Speaker puts request for probe into Airbus bribery scandal on hold

The Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye has put on hold a request for the House to probe the Airbus bribery scandal.

The House approved an agreement for the purchase of the Airbus CASA 295 military aircraft after a heated debate in 2011.

A recent judgment on the airline’s procurement processes in the UK and US alleging the payment of bribes in exchange of high-value contracts has re-ignited calls for public scrutiny.

Assin South MP, Rev. John Ntim Fordjour, presented a statement to the house urging members to set up a full-blown parliamentary inquiry into the matter.

“Mr. Speaker, with due regard for the diligent commitment exhibited by President Akufo-Addo in respect of the judgment by the UK and USA courts in relation to the Airbus SE bribery scandal, as demonstrated by promptly charging the Office of the Special Prosecutor to collaborate with its UK counterpart to conduct inquiry into determining the complicity or otherwise of any Ghanaian government official, past or present and to take the necessary action required by Ghanaian law, I, in the spirit of patriotism, do accordingly implore the House to explore our legitimate option fortified by Order 191 of the Standing Orders of the Parliament of Ghana, to conduct inquiry into the matter, as an independent institution, to establish complicity or otherwise of Ghanaian government officials, past or present, relative to this Airbus bribery scandal,” he requested.

But after a debate on the Floor of the House, the Speaker of Parliament ruled that the matter has been put on hold, and will be revisited due to its complexity.

“As a House of debate, this House has competently, generally, dealt with this matter, considering the circumstances of this matter in its totality and the technical prerequisites for examining it in full and mindful of the referral already to the Special Prosecutor’s Office and not forgetting that at any time, this House can by any of its appropriate procedures go further into the matter. We will hold our horses by what I will rule now and we shall revisit it in due season,” he said.

 

Case beyond Parliament

Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei has said the Office of the Special Prosecutor should be allowed to investigate the Airbus scandal since the issues involved are beyond Parliament.

Some had called for a parliamentary enquiry into the scandal but speaking to Citi News, the Old Tafo MP indicated that Parliament should allow the special prosecutor to deal with the scandal.

“Any Parliament should always be interested in issues that have to do with value for money but what is happening is not value for money. It is about bribery, that’s beyond Parliament. It is not something that Parliament will pursue,” he noted.

“Now that it has come up, Parliament can decide the best way to do it but we are not talking about value for money here. We should allow the Special Prosecutor because it is an issue of bribery and corruption. That is what the law says they should look at.”

Background

Aircraft manufacturing giant, Airbus, has been in the news for the past few days after it agreed on a legal settlement of about £3 billion over its involvement in an alleged bribery scandal between 2009 and 2015 in various markets including Ghana.

Prosecutors in the UK, US and France had been investigating the company and found in the case of their dealings with Ghana that the company and its agents paid bribes to some key individuals including government officials at the time to ensure or maintain business favours.

According to the Statement of Facts in the case, between 2009 and 2015, “a number of Airbus employees made or promised success based commission payments of approximately €5 million to Intermediary 5”, who is said to be “a close relative of a high ranking elected Ghanaian Government official (Government Official 1)”.

Significantly, “Government Official 1 was a key decision-maker in respect of Government of Ghana aircraft orders”.

The payments to Intermediary 5 by officials of Airbus SE were, thus, “intended to induce or reward improper favour by Government Official 1” over the purchase of three (3) C-295 military transport aircraft. Indeed, out of the €5 million promised Intermediary 5, €3.85 million was paid between March 2012 and February 2014.

Although legal documents did not disclose the names of the Ghanaian officials involved, there has been wild speculations and guesses about who the persons may be especially as the period the investigations focused on, was during the administration of the late Prof. Evans Atta-Mills and John Mahama.

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