President Nana Akufo-Addo has referred the Airbus bribery scandal to the Office of the Special Prosecutor to investigate the matter.
These investigations are expected to be conducted in collaboration with the United Kingdom authorities, according to a statement from the presidency.
The statement noted that the Special Prosecutor Office will “collaborate with its UK counterparts to conduct a prompt inquiry to determine the complicity or otherwise of any Ghanaian government official, past or present, involved in the said scandal.”
The President, according to the statement, wants “necessary legal action taken against any such official, as required by Ghanaian law.”
On January 31, Ghana was cited as one of five countries in which global aerospace group, Airbus SE, allegedly bribed or promised payments to senior officials in exchange for business favours between 2009 and 2015, according to the UK’s Serious Fraud Office.
This led to a record £3 billion in settlement by Airbus with France, the United Kingdom and the United States to avoid corporate criminal charges.
In addition to Ghana, the company allegedly paid bribes to officials in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Taiwan within the same period.
The UK’s Serious Fraud Office, however, in its statement of fact did not name the individual Ghanaian officials nor the Airbus agents involved in the crime because investigations were still ongoing.
Response from NDC
The National Democratic Congress (NDC), which was in power during the period the bribes were allegedly paid, denied the suggestions of corruption from key state actors.
The party in a statement signed by former Attorney General, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong argued that media reports on the matter did not capture the true reflection of the approved judgement of the case in the UK.
“The reports alleging that Airbus SE paid bribes during the administration of President John Evans Atta Mills and John Dramani Mahama are false, misleading and do not reflect the Approved Judgment. Indeed, the Approved Judgment of the Crown Court of Southwark approving the DPA between Airbus and the UK Serious Fraud Office does not allege that any payment was made by Airbus to any Ghanaian Government official,” the statement said.
Purpose of Ghana bribe
In the case of Ghana, the court found that the company’s bribe was to land the contract of purchase of a military transport aircraft.
“Between 1 July 2011 and 1 June 2015 Airbus SE failed to prevent persons associated with Airbus SE from bribing others concerned with the purchase of military transport aircraft by the Government of Ghana, where the said bribery was intended to obtain or retain business or advantage in the conduct of business for Airbus SE,” the court’s statement of offence noted.
The documents indicated that one of the unnamed Ghanaian officials was “a key decision-maker in respect of Government of Ghana aircraft orders.”
A number of Airbus employees “made or promised success-based commission payments of approximately €5 million” to one of the Ghanaians implicated in the acts of corruption.