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Agyapa deal: Timing of Databank’s withdrawal questionable, bid-rigging issues unresolved – CSOs



Civil Society Organizations critical of the Agyapa Royalties deal say Databank’s withdrawal of its services as transaction advisors does not resolve issues of bid-rigging and other alleged improprieties.

According to the group, the timing for the development smacks of an attempt to “preempt the discussions” to be possibly put before the Finance Minister-designate, Ken Ofori-Atta ahead of his vetting by Parliament’s Appointments Committee.

“It, therefore, leaves one wondering whether this is not an attempt to preempt the discussion of the matter during the Minister-designates vetting next week in Parliament,” leader of the group, Dr Steve Manteaw said.

Databank in a February 10 letter signed by its Group CEO and addressed to co-transaction advisor, Imara Holdings stated it has withdrawn its services because its association with Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta has exposed the bank to attacks from political actors.

In the letter sighted by JoyNews, Group CEO Kojo Addae-Mensah explained that this was intensely felt during the just-ended 2020 elections.

“The Board of Directors of Databank has observed with deep concern persistent attempts by some political actors, during the political season leading up to the general elections of December 2020, to tarnish our hard-won reputation painstakingly built over the last 30 years, by unfairly exploiting our participation and involvement in the transaction as one of the transaction advisors. We believe this is principally due to the Minister of Finance’s association with Databank as its co-founder.”

He added that despite the great rewards they are certain the country would benefit from the said transaction, the insinuations made against the brokerage by these political actors “not only grossly compromise the ability to execute such a market-sensitive and novel transaction, but also has a real tendency to severely damage the invaluable business reputation of Databank.”

He further explained that the bank’s decision to withdraw is an attempt to salvage the hard-earned reputation they had painstakingly built over the last 30 years.

However, the Alliance of CSOs Working on Extractives Anti-Corruption and Governance does not believe the latest move by the investment and brokerage should mark an end to the debacle.

“This move does not cure the plethora of ills with the Agyapa transaction,” he explained.

The group is questioning the sincerity of Databank’s move.

Alleged bid-rigging by Databank

Former Special Prosecutor Martin Amidu in November 2020 said the involvement of Data Bank Financial Services Limited in the Agyapa Agreement smells of “bid-rigging.”

Mr. Amidu further alleged that the procurement process “was manipulated by the Ministry of Finance by adding an unapproved rider for collaboration with a Ghanaian firm.”

He further revealed in his report that other individuals who have business interests in Data Bank aside from the Finance Minister played various roles leading to the selection of Data Bank.

Subsequently, he resigned from post citing the reactions on the back of his Corruption Risk Assessment of deal from some interested parties including death threats.