The Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Prof Aaron Michael Oquaye on Friday blocked the setting up of a parliamentary committee to investigate the Airbus SE bribery scandal that erupted over accusations of Airbus payments to a relative of a government official in connection with the purchase of military transport planes.
He however stressed that the House has competence to deal with the matter and reiterated the inquisition powers of the august House on all matters of public interest from archaeology to zoology which cannot be encapsulated.
The former University Professor remarked that it was premature for any parliamentary inquiry at the moment considering the circumstances of the matter in its totality and the technical prerequisite for examining it in full, mindful of the referral already to the Special Prosecutor (SP) by the President.
He believed that the House can, at any stage at any time by any of its appropriate procedures, go further into the matter and therefore ruled that members hold their horses for now, notwithstanding that the House could still revisit the issue if it becomes necessary.
The Speaker gave these remarks when ruling on a statement by MP for Assin South Hon. John Ntim Fordjour calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the Airbus SE Bribery Scandal allegedly involving Ghanaian government officials in a military aircraft deal.
Hon. Ntim Fordjour in his statement complained that the scandal is a political storm which erupted over accusations of Airbus payments to a relative of government official in connection with the purchase of military transport planes.
He stated that, according to United States of America (USA) and United Kingdom (UK) court documents, Airbus had been under investigations by the US Department of Justice (DOJ), the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) of the UK and the Parquet National Financier (PNF) of France.
Hon. Ntim indicated that a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) was approved in separate judgments by the Queen’s Bench division of the UK’s Crown Court at Southwark and the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday, January 31, 2020.
He informed the House that Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer, is alleged to have paid bribes in Ghana when it sold the three military aircrafts and also admitted hiring the brother of a top elected Ghanaian official as its consultant for the pitch to sell the aircraft to the country.
Ntim Fordjour expatiated further that Airbus also confessed paying the said consultant through a third party when its Compliance Unit raised red flags about the close relationship between the consultant and the top elected official, who was a key decision maker in the purchase of the military aircraft.
In the case of Ghana, he elaborated, Airbus allegedly paid more than €3 million through a third
party high ranking elected official, which the document mentioned as “Individual 1”, who was in office from 2009 to 2016, made direct contact with the Airbus management about the purchase of the aircraft a few months after he took office.
This, he concluded, came to light after nearly four years of investigations by authorities in the United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom (UK) and France into the business operations of Airbus, which culminated in the company being fined $3.9 billion for its corrupt practices in Ghana, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Taiwan within the same period.
The Assin South MP therefore implored the House to explore its legitimate option, as an independent institution fortified by the Standing Orders of Parliament, to conduct inquiry into the matter to establish the complicity or otherwise of Ghanaian government officials whether
past or present, relative to this Airbus bribery scandal.
The Majority Leader Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu suggested that notwithstanding the fact that the Speaker is clothed with such powers and solely responsible for determining the admissibility of statements in the House, he should not allow debate on the statement.
He submitted that though Parliament is not forbidden to inquire into any matter, H. E. the President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akuffo Addo has already referred the matter to the Special Prosecutor’s office for investigation and to conduct a prompt inquiry to determine the complicity or otherwise of any Ghanaian government official, past or present.
Both 1st Deputy Speaker Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu and Old Tafo MP Anthony Akoto Osei agreed that the partisan posture of Members on the scandal would not augur well for a meaningful, objective, patriotic and bi-partisan investigation in into the matter and therefore supported the Executive action of referring the matter to the Special Prosecutor.
Minority Whip Ibrahim Ahmed in his contribution described the statement as prejudicial and controversial and accused the Majority Leader of double standard for condemning the
statement on the floor after admitting it to be read on the floor, being privy of its referral to the Special Prosecutor by the President.
Hon. Abdulai Inusah Fuseini, MP for Tamale Central warned that a parliamentary investigation could be a potential indictment on the integrity of the House whose members travelled to the UK to inspect the purchase deal and were gifted with miniature Airbus planes.
The Member of Parliament for North Tongu Constituency Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Hon. John Jinapor (MP-Yapei/Kusawgu), Hon. Okoe Boye (MP-Ledzokuku) and Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah all contributed to the statement and shared their views