President Akufo-Addo has tasked the Office of the Special Prosecutor to conduct an inquiry into the Ghanaian public officials said to have been engaged in the Airbus bribery scandal.
On January 31, 2020, Ghana was named as one of five countries in which the plane maker, Airbus, paid or attempted to pay millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for contracts, leading a court in Britain to slap a fine of £3 billion on the company.
In court documents and hearings in the United Kingdom, Airbus admitted five counts of failing to prevent bribery, using a network of secret agents to pay large-scale backhanders to officials in foreign countries, including Ghana, to land high-value contracts.
The document also alleged that contrary to section 7 of the UK’s Bribery Act 2010, Airbus failed to prevent persons associated with it 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.”
It also stated that between 2009 and 2015 an Airbus defence company engaged a close relative of a high-ranking elected Ghanaian Government official as an intermediary or agent in respect of the proposed sale of three military transport aircraft to the Government of Ghana.
The January 31 judgment further revealed that: “Airbus, through one of its Spanish defence subsidiaries, conducted two campaigns to sell its C-295 military transport aircraft to the Government of Ghana: the first campaign ran from 2009 to 2011, the second from 2013 to 2015. Intermediary 5, a UK national with no prior expertise in the aerospace industry, acted as the BP for Airbus in both. Company D was the corporate vehicle through which Intermediary 5 and his associates provided services to Airbus.
This development has sparked concerns among Ghanaians as to the magnitude of corruption, the faces behind these dealings and its implications for the country’s aviation development drive.
The former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong has denied that officials of aircraft manufacturing giant Airbus paid or attempted to pay millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for contracts.
In a statement signed by the Director of Communications at the Presidency, Eugene Arhin on Sunday, President Akufo-Addo has referred the issue to the Office of the Special Prosecutor “to 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, also wants “necessary legal action taken against any such official, as required by Ghanaian Law.”
However, Ghana is not the first country to initiate action following the damning report.
Sri Lanka’s president has already ordered a fresh investigation into the scheme.
Malaysia’s anti-graft agency is also investigating allegations that Airbus paid a US$50 million bribe to win plane orders from Malaysia-based AirAsia.
Key actors in Airbus corruption scandal in Ghana
1. Government Official 1 (high ranking and elected)
2. Intermediary 5 (British national and close relative of Government Official 1)
3. Company D (corporate vehicle for Intermediary 5 – shareholder)
4. Intermediary 6 (British national and associate of Intermediary 5)
5. Intermediary 7 (British national and associate of Intermediary 5)
6. Intermediary 8 (Spanish company and front for Intermediary 5)