The Ministry of Finance has dismissed social media reports that Databank and Black Star Brokerage – linked to Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta and the Minister of State at the Finance Ministry, Charles Adu Boahen were handpicked by the Finance Ministry and the Bank of Ghana to act as Bond Market Specialists for government bond issuance, hence benefiting from those transactions.
In a statement, the Ministry said, it is incorrect the claim that these two firms have been appointed as advisors to the Ministry of Finance (MoF).
“The selection of the Primary Dealers [PDs] and Bond Market Specialists [BMSs] is an automatic process based on market performance and historical secondary market trading activity which is publicly available and cannot be manipulated by the Ministry of Finance [MoF] or the Bank of Ghana [BoG]”.
“Since 1996, the Ministry of Finance with the Bank of Ghana has developed and implemented various policies which affect the issuance and trading of Government of Ghana debt securities (Treasuries and Bonds). The ultimate objectives of these policies are to develop an efficient fixed income market, strengthen the capacity of local institutions and deepen financial intermediation”, it added.
Furthermore, it pointed out that Databank and Black Star Brokerage are two out of nine firms that have been selected by BoG/MoF as Bond Market Specialists and not Advisors to MoF, adding “the other firms selected to be BMSs are – Ecobank, Stanbic Bank, ABSA, Cal Bank, GCB Bank, Fidelity Bank, and IC Securities. As stated above, the selection of the firms was solely based on their historical performance on the Bond Market and no other consideration”.
It continued that PDs are institutions authorized by the BoG and have the exclusive right to participate in the wholesale auctions of Treasury Bills, adding, Bond Market Specialists are PDs that have the exclusive right to participate in the sale, distribution and primary issuance, by auction or otherwise, of all Government of Ghana Treasury bills, notes and bonds.
“The selection process for firms to act as PDs and BMSs is based only on merit. The Ministry of Finance or the Minister and/or his Deputies have absolutely no hand in the selection process. The process cannot also be subject to any manipulation as it is based solely on historical data of trading and performance which is a matter of public knowledge on the bonds market”, it stressed.
“It is the opinion of the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Ghana that this selection process rewards meritocracy, ensures transparency in the selection process and provides this Ministry with a selection of highly capable and motivated institutions with the opportunity to become Primary Dealers and BMSs if they perform. If any other firm in the period posted a performance higher than the selected three firms, they would have automatically been selected as Primary Dealers. Indeed, the selection is solely based on historical data and performance and no other consideration”, it stated.
Databank and Black Star do not make over 210m
The article also claim that the three advisors including Databank and Black Star stand to make over 210 million in fees.
The Finance Ministry pointed out that the report is inaccurate, misleading and intended to procure cynicism against the process.
“First, there are nine and not three BMSs. Secondly, BMSs are paid based on performance. They are paid a percentage (this was 0.5% in the past) of the value of total funds each of them manages to raise or based on the value of the bonds they each manage to sell to investors. This means their compensation is based on their ability to convince investors to buy Government of Ghana bonds”, it added.
Again, it dismissed the allegation by the author that the Ministry is involved in reckless borrowing, saying, is totally untrue and without substance.
“Any borrowing by MoF is strictly determined by the deficit target for the year as approved by parliament, the appropriation bill and maturities falling due during the year. In fact, this government has demonstrated exceptional fiscal discipline evidenced by the fiscal deficit below 5% prior to Covid-19 despite the financial sector bail-out costs [including the repayment of depositor’s funds] and the energy sector excess capacity charges which have to be paid”.
It also dismissed the issue of conflict of interest in the case “because the selection process is purely based on meritocracy and the value of each firm’s secondary fixed income market trading activity as captured on the stock exchange”.
Additionally, it noted that both Ken Ofori-Atta and Charles Adu Boahen are no longer involved in any way with the day to day operations of either Databank or Black Star.
“Mr Adu Boahen resigned from the Board and from management of Black Star back in January 2017 immediately after he was nominated by the President as one of his Deputy Ministers for Finance. He also transferred his shares in the company to a holding company on assumption of public office. Mr Ofori-Atta resigned as Executive Chair of Databank in August 2012 and resigned from all the Databank Boards in February 2014.”
Source: Joy Business