19th May 2024

Asante Berko, Director General of TOR

Even before the light on Ghana’s purchase of aircraft from Airbus, during the erstwhile John Mahama administration, which is now at the centre of what is said to be the biggest bribery case in a UK court, dims, the administration has been caught in a web of another international bribery scandal involving Members of Parliament and government officials.

Officials of the Securities and Exchange Commission of US have arranged Asante Berko, a former executive at Goldman’s London subsidiary for facilitating as much as $4.5 million in bribes to help a Turkish energy company.

The payment was allegedly made to gain approval for a client’s power plant project from “2015 through at least 2016,” according to court documents from New York.

The SEC says the energy company, which wasn’t named, funnelled money to an intermediary, which then paid bribes to officials of the erstwhile John Mahama administration and some parliamentarians.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Mr. Berko, arranged for the Energy Company to funnel between $3 million to $4.5 million to a Ghana-based intermediary company “to bribe various government officials responsible for approving the Power Plant Project.”

It said the Ghana-based intermediary then made the payments to the government officials.

“From approximately 2015 through at least 2016 (the “relevant period”), while employed at the Subsidiary, Berko schemed to bribe various government officials in the Republic of Ghana (“Ghana”) so that a client of the Subsidiary, a Turkish Energy Company (the “Energy Company”), would win a contract (the “Power Purchase Agreement”) to build and operate an electrical power plant in Ghana and sell the power to the Ghanaian government (the “Power Plant Project” or “Project”),” the SEC said.

Mr. Berko, who left Goldman Sachs in 2016, is also alleged to have personally paid bribes totaling $66,000 to members of the Ghanaian parliament and other government officials of the John Mahama administration.

Concealing evidence

The SEC in a press statement said Mr. Berko tried to hide the scheme from the bank, whose compliance officers questioned how the deal was put together. Goldman, which wasn’t named in the SEC’s lawsuit, terminated its involvement with the project after the energy company refused to explain the intermediary firm’s role, the SEC’s legal complaint said.

In the suit, which was filed in Brooklyn federal court, the SEC said Mr. Berko knew the bank stood to earn $10 million in fees if the energy company won the contract and organized financing for it, adding the deal would have “enhanced Berko’s performance and stature within” the bank.

Berko’s cut

The suit added that the energy company paid Mr. Berko $2 million for ‘successfully’ coordinating the effort adding the payments violated Mr. Berko’s employment agreement with the bank.

Meanwhile Nicole Sharp, a spokeswoman for Goldman says, “Goldman Sachs fully cooperated with the SEC’s investigation and as stated by the SEC in its press release, the firm’s compliance personnel took appropriate steps to prevent the firm from participating in the transaction.”

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