Probe bribery scandal against ex-TOR boss – GII

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Former TOR boss Asante Berko

The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) is pushing for an independent probe into allegations of bribery against Mr Asante Berko, the immediate past managing director of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR).

The Ghana chapter of Transparency International said though the government’s attention is being focused on the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, public officials must still be held accountable.

“…If conscious effort is not made, there is the high tendency and risk of government’s attention being shifted from addressing anti-corruption issues resulting in these allegations being swept under the carpet,” GII wrote.

The demand follows a civil lawsuit against Mr. Berko by the Securities and Exchange Commission of the US.

The SEC accused Berko of bribing government officials and MPs in Ghana to gain approval for a power plant project in 2015.

The US SEC claims in its lawsuit filed Monday, April 13 that, Asante Berko, a former executive at Goldman Sachs, facilitated up to $4.5million to help a Turkish company to win a contract for a power plant.

The said contract was approved in 2015, during Ghana’s chronic power crisis.

Berko denies bribery allegations

Berko has since resigned as Tema Oil Refinery boss following the allegations. He has, however, denied any wrongdoing; describing the bribery allegations as “false.”

“I state categorically that I have not paid any bribes to government officials, Members of Parliament nor any officials of Parliament.

“I have had no contact with Members of Parliament nor officials of Parliament, regarding the approval of this transaction,” he wrote in a statement.

Mr. Berko said he “was indeed an employee of Goldman Sachs up until December 2016…and was part of the Goldman Sachs team that was to arrange the financing for this power transaction on behalf of the Turkish IPP.”

But GII wants the claims investigated as they say the allegations have consequences for “Ghana’s international image.”

President Akufo-Addo must “commit to ensure, in the spirit of transparency and accountability, that government will publish the findings of the investigations to assist public officials and politicians to recognise and desist from similar incidences of corruption (i.e. if anything untoward is found) in the future,” GII said.

Read full statement below

By Jonathan Ofori, Daily Mail GH

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