The Government of Ghana (GoG) has confirmed its efforts to get the country’s share of the $3.9 billion Airbus compensation fine by international courts.
The aeroplane manufacturer was fined $3.9 billion in compensation by England’s Crown Court and the Serious Fraud Office for admitting it paid bribes to various international actors as part of its operations.
Ghana’s share of the total compensation is estimated to be $30 million.
Confirming the reports on Thursday, in Accra, Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah notes government has, since June this year, been engaging with an international law firm with extensive experience in investigations and anti-corruption to see how best they might assist Ghana to repatriate its share of the fine.
According to the Information Minister, the monies when retrieved will be exclusively used to enhance the capabilities of the nation’s anti-graft and law enforcement agencies.
He further noted that government is also collaborating with international investigative agencies to bring persons behind the scandal to book.
Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer, is alleged to have paid bribes in Ghana when it sold the three military aircraft.
The aerospace multinational admitted hiring the brother of a top elected Ghanaian official as its consultant for the pitch to sell the aircraft to the country.
Airbus confessed paying the said consultant through a third party when its Compliance Unit raised red flags about the close relationship between the consultant and the top elected official, who was a key decision-maker in the purchase of the military aircraft.
Government’s approach is not without precedent, for instance, in 2008 the United States, Switzerland and Kazakhstan established and NGO, the BOTA Foundation, to manage the return of over $100 million that had been paid in bribes to top Kazakh officials through US and Swiss bank accounts.
This process allowed the repatriated funds to be used towards projects of top importance to the Kazakh government; ultimately benefiting the Kazakh people.
Ghana bought three Military Airplanes – C295s – from Airbus.
The nation received its first C295 in November 2011. The second aircraft was received in April 2012 and the third in November 2015.
The deals covering them were argued at the time to be in line with the 2009-2012 Strategic Plan of the Ghana Armed Forces.
All three purchases, approved by Ghana’s Parliament after heated disagreements on the floor, were roundly marketed by the government of the day as a drive to modernize Ghana’s Air Force.
Funding for the purchase of aircraft
Funding for the first two C295s came from a €60,034,636 loan facility from the Deutsche Bank S.A.E.
A further €11,750,000 million loan from the Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited was also approved by Parliament during the period for the acquisition of two DA42 MPP Guardian surveillance aircraft for the Ghana Airforce.
The House also approved a total loan sum of $105,370,177.09 from the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) for the purchase of an Embraer E190 jet for the country.
The Embraer agreement was to cover related spare parts, relevant accessories as well as the construction of an aircraft hangar big enough to house three large aircrafts.
Prior to the Parliamentary approval of the loan agreements, Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu had slammed the deals as both questionable and non-transparent, adding that the contract sums had been padded by the government.
He famously tabled figures obtained from the internet to back his claims but was scorned for doing no more than relying on Google to come up with such serious claims of wrongdoing.
One of the C295s acquired under the deal supported United Nations-led missions in Mali. The rest were bought, as the Government explained at the time, to support strategic operations of the Ghana Air Force including surveillance of the country’s offshore oil production fields, border patrol, the training of pilots and internal transportation of troops.
In November 2014, then President John Mahama had announced that Ghana planned to acquire more Military equipment, including five Super Tucanos, Mi-17s and four Z-9s, for the Ghana Airforce.
At the time, Ghanaian troops were said to have relied heavily on civilian flights for their movements and needed military aircraft to correct this anomaly. Despite opposition criticisms, the government went ahead with the purchase agreements.