The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has corroborated the Minority’s argument that the Finance Minister, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, supervised the illegal payments of oil revenues into offshore accounts, other than the Petroleum Holding Fund (PHF) by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC).
According to the Committee, the act constitutes a breach of Article 178 of the 1992 constitution and the Section 7 of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA), 2011 (Act 815), since the finance ministry should have ensured that the money was paid into the lawful account.
Article 178 of the constitution states that: “The public funds of Ghana shall be the Consolidated Fund, the Contingency Fund and such other public funds as may be established by or under the authority of an Act of Parliament.”
Section 7 of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA), 2011 (Act 815) also provides that: “All revenues due from the direct or indirect participation of the country in petroleum operations, including the carried and additional participating interests, should be paid into the PHF.”
Vice Chairman of PIAC, Mr Nasir Alfa Mohammed, told the ad hoc Committee hearing evidence on the Censure Motion that has been instituted against Mr Ken Ofori-Atta by the Minority in Parliament.
The Minority, led by their leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, instituted a censure motion against the Finance Minister.
The minority said the Minister’s actions and inactions at the Ministry is what has brought economic hardship unto the people of Ghana, hence the Motion of Censure.
But one of the grounds which called for the testimony of PIAC was on ground three, which talks about the “Illegal payment of oil revenues into offshore accounts, in flagrant violation of Article 176 of the 1992 Constitution.”
Explaining how the Finance Minister breached the PRMA, the Vice Chairman of PIAC, the statutory body mandated to promote transparency and accountability in the management of petroleum revenues in Ghana, said that in line with GNPCs strategy to increase its stake in viable oil blocs, the corporation acquired a 7% interest from Occidental Petroleum (Anadarko WCTP Company) in respect of the Company’s DWT/WCTP assets for US$199 million on April 1, 2021.
He continued that the acquisition was to be transferred to GNPC Explorco, but was later ceded to GNPC’s subsidiary, Jubilee Oil Holdings Limited (JOHL).
Mr Mohammed indicated that JOHL made its first lifting amounting to 944,164 barrels of oil in the jubilee fields in the first half of 2022, amounting to $100,748,907.95.
The Vice Chairman noted that this amount was supposed to have been deposited into the PHF, in accordance with the law, but that wasn’t done.
“Revenues accrued to the lifting at JOHL constitute an indirect participation of the Republic of Ghana in petroleum operation and so the money should have been paid into the Petroleum Holding Fund,” Mr Mohammed said and insisted there was a breach of the law.
Despite the numerous questions that some members of the committee asked Mr Mohammed, he still maintained that the Finance Minister, whose task was to have ensured that GNPC deposits the money into the lawful account, did just the opposite.
Meanwhile, the GNPC in its evidence to the Ad hoc Committee, which is being co-chaired by K. T Hammond, MP, Adansi Asokwa and Dr Dominic Ayine, MP, Bolgatanga East said Mr Ken Ofori-Atta has not committed any wrong doing.
The Deputy Chief Executive of the GNPC in-charge of Commerce, Strategy and Business Development, Mr Joseph Dadzie, admitted money was indeed paid to JOHL account but expressed disagreement with PIAC that the money should have been paid into the Petroleum Holding Fund.
He explained that JOHL is 100 per cent subsidiary of GNPC and “we believe it is a company registered under the Company Act and obviously the terms and condition as well as the constitution of JOHL is governed Company Act, not Petroleum Revenue Managing Act.
“For that reason, 100 per cent of that revenue cannot be paid into the PHF. The JOHL must operate and if at the end of the day it declares profit and the directors decide dividends must be paid, that money is paid to GNPC which will pay that into PHF,” he said and added that “As far as JOHL is concerned, the Finance Minister is not responsible for the revenues.”
The Finance Minister is expected to appear before the committee today to present evidence to defend himself from all the accusations leveled against him by the Minority.