Gold royalties deal: Ghana’s special prosecutor resigns over president’s ‘interference’


Martin Amidu, Ghana’s special prosecutor, has resigned his appointment.

In a letter dated November 16 and addressed to Nana Akufo-Addo, president of Ghana, Amidu said his decision to resign was as a result of the president’s interference in the performance of his (Amidu’s) duties.

Amidu’s resignation comes amid the controversy trailing the deal the Ghanaian government made with Agbaya Royalties Limited on the country’s gold mines.

On August 14, 2020, the Ghanaian parliament had approved five agreements to allow the country to derive maximum value from its mineral resources and monetise its mineral income accruing to the state “in a sustainable and responsible manner”.

This involves allowing the Mineral Income Investment Fund Act (MIIF) 2018, to incorporate subsidiaries and use them as special purpose vehicle (SPVs) to engage in pure commercial private sector transactions to maximise the mineral royalties from Ghana’s gold mines.

The parliament approved the Agyapa Minerals Royalties Investment Agreement which will enable Ghana to use the company as an SPV to secure about $1 billion and leverage to finance mines in Ghana and across Africa and to invest in infrastructure, health and education.

Under the deal, Agyapa Mineral Royalties Limited, registered under British crown dependency of Jerseyin, will list on the London and Ghana Stock Exchanges later in the year, operate as an independent private sector entity and be able to raise funds from the capital market, both locally and internationally, as an alternative to the conventional debt capital market transactions.

The Controversy
But following the approval of the agreements, some civil society organisations as well as the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the minority in parliament and an opposition party, raised concerns that the deal was shrouded in secrecy, reeks of corruption, and not in the best interest of the country.

They also demanded immediate suspension of the implementation of the deal, but the government refuted the allegations, saying due process was followed.

Subsequently, Amidu, popularly known as citizen vigilante, said he began the probe of the deal and submitted his report two weeks after he started the investigation.

Amidu said when he decided to take up the appointment of a special prosecutor in 2018, he swore an oath that the office “will be innovatively operationalised and run in accordance with international best practice”, but sadly, he has “not been able to achieve the mandate of the office due to external interference”.

He said it became clear he could not work under Akufo-Addo’s administration as the special prosecutor because “we disagree on the non-partisan independence of the Special Prosecutor in the performance of the functions of my Office in preventing and fighting corruption and corruption-related offences”.

“The purpose of this letter is to convey to Your Excellency, Mr. President of the Republic, that pursuant to Section 13 (8) and (10), of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Act, 2017 Act (959), and Article 145(3) of the 1992 Constitution I am resigning my position as the Special Prosecutor with immediate effect to enable Your Excellency to take steps to appoint a replacement to that position as required by law,” the letter reads.

“The one condition upon which I accepted to be nominated as the Special Prosecutor when you invited me to your Office on 10th January 2018 was your firm promise to me that you will respect and censure same by your Government for my independence and freedom of action as the Special Prosecutor. Several things have happened since then.

“But your reaction to my letter with reference number OSP/SCR/20/12/20 dated 16th October 2020 which was delivered to you on 19th October 2020 conveying to you the conclusions and observations of the analysis of the risk of corruption and anti-corruption assessment of the Agyapa Royalties Limited Transactions convinces me beyond every reasonable doubt that you had laboured under the mistaken belief that I could hold the Office of the Special Prosecutor as your poodle.

“The sixty-four (64) page analysis of corruption and anti-corruption assessment report discloses several serious corruption and corruption-related offences in respect of which I intended to open full investigations as the Special Prosecutor. I cannot do that now after your political interference in the performance of functions of the Office for two weeks from 20th October 2020 to 1st November 2020 culminating your directives on how the anti-corruption assessment report of the Agyapa Royalties Limited Transaction by this Office should be handled by the principal suspects disclosed by the anti-corruption assessment report.

“More importantly, Your Excellency was acting as a judge in your own cause in usurping my functions to take any independent follow-up actions on the anti-corruption assessment report when you knew from my thirteen (13) page letter of 16th October 2020 conveying the conclusions and observations of the anti-corruption assessment report to you, that negative anti-corruption assessments had been made against the conduct of your Office in the procedure adopted in granting the Executive Approval dated 24th March 2020, and your assent of the Minerals Income Investment (Amendment) Act, 2020 (Act 1024) on 27th August 2020 intended to retroactively impact the Parliamentary approval of the Transactions Documents granted on 14th August 2020.”

Amidu thanked the president for his support and assistance, but added that “I also do not see any serious non-partisan prospect of any improvement in preventing and fighting corruption in Your Excellency’s next term of Office in 2021.”


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