Private legal practitioner and leading member of the governing New Patriotic Party, Gabby Otchere-Darko, has sued Member of Parliament for the Bia East Constituency, Richard Acheampong.
This follows allegations the National Democratic Congress MP made against Gabby Otchere-Darko in the aftermath of the parliamentary approval of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), Agyapa Royalties Limited, established by the Minerals Income Investment Fund to help the government monetize the country’s gold royalties on the London Stock Exchange.
Initial reports suggested that the company was renamed from Asaase Royalties Limited to Agyapa Royalties Limited after it was discovered that there were over 20 firms on the Register of Companies in Ghana bearing the name “Asaase” in several variants, especially in the mining sector.
Mr. Acheampong, in a radio interview, allegedly suggested that Mr. Otchere-Darko, who is a shareholder of Asaase Radio, has a hand in the establishment of the new SPV due to his relationship with the governing party.
Mr. Otchere-Darko, in his writ sighted by citinewsroom.com, interpreted the NDC MP’s remarks as follows:
“… and we asked; why is it that our natural resources, our share of the rights that generations yet unborn must come to meet and use for legacies; why are we squandering all now? And that we do not understand it. When you do some background checks about Agyapa [meaning thereby Agyapa Royalties Limited, which is wholly owned by the Minerals Income Investment Fund, which is also wholly owned by the Government of the Republic of Ghana] it used to be called Asaase Ventures and we know that Akufo-Addo’s [meaning thereby the President of the Republic] nephew Gabby Otchere-Darko [meaning thereby the plaintiff] has established an FM station called Asaase FM. So when you look at it carefully, the deal has got something to do with the President and his family. So we were asking, how come we didn’t get any company but going for only that company.”
According to Gabby, the NDC MP sought to create the impression that, he [Gabby] is engaging in criminal capture and dissipation of public funds by being the actual owner or a shareholder of Agyapa Royalties Limited and that “The plaintiff is corrupt and he engages in reprehensible clandestine dealings with the President of the Republic and other members of his family to arrogate or convert public funds and the ownership of public companies to himself.”
According to Gabby’s writ, the MP also sought to also create the impressions that he “is a detestable, distasteful and nepotistic person who engages in publicly opprobrious practices by appropriating state-owned assets and funds by employing his blood ties with the President of the Republic.”
He further argued that the words uttered by Richard Acheampong are “absolutely false, products of the defendant’s imagination and were mischievously designed by the defendant to disparage him, stain his reputation, create disaffection for him, and to bring him into abhorrence in the eyes of right-thinking members of the Republic and the global community.”
The writ further explained that Mr. Otchere-Darko’s reputation, particularly as a lawyer, has been egregiously damaged and he has suffered debilitating distress and embarrassment following the utterances.
Gabby Otchere-Darko is thus seeking from the court “general damages for libel contained in the defendant’s publication of the plaintiff indorsed on the writ of summons by way of an attachment and set out in paragraph 7 above.”
“Aggravated damages arising from libel published by the defendant of the plaintiff indorsed on the writ of summons by way of an attachment and set out in paragraph 7 above” and “costs, including lawyers’ fees.”
The Government of Ghana, through the Minerals Income Investment Fund, set up a limited liability company, Agyapa Royalties Limited to receive money Ghana is supposed to earn from gold royalties.
In exchange, the company will be raising between $500 million and $750 million lump sum for the Ghana Government on the Ghana and London Stock exchanges to invest in developmental projects.
The Minority in Parliament boycotted the approval of the agreement in Parliament last week saying it will shortchange Ghanaians.
NDC flagbearer, John Mahama also described the deal as questionable whilst a presidential aspirant of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), William Dowokpor, called it fraudulent.
Minerals Income and Investment Fund defends Agyapa Royalties deal
Meanwhile, the Minerals Income and Investment Fund (MIIF) which formed the company in a statement defended the integrity of the agreement.
MIIF insisted that establishing Agyapa Royalties and giving it such a task is a “forward-thinking” endeavour, and is in the best interest of Ghanaians.
In general, Ghanaians will benefit because the capital raised “will finance strategic capital investments such as infrastructure and also mining in collaboration with local equity participants to spur socio-economic development,” it added.
“What is very important to remember is that MIIF will remain as the majority shareholder of Agyapa Royalties Limited. This means it will retain majority shareholder control and receive the majority of the company’s dividends when declared and paid.”
Minerals Income Investment Fund is vested with the power, inter alia, to create and hold equity interests in a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in any jurisdiction in furtherance of its objects, procure the listing of the SPV on any reputable stock exchange that it considers appropriate, and to assign or transfer all or any of its rights to minerals income to an SPV in furtherance of the objects of the Fund.