Airbus scandal: Amidu unearths forgeries, impersonation; defends Interpol arrest warrant for Adam Mahama

The office of the special prosecutor says it has unearthed crimes of impersonation and forgeries in the ongoing investigations relating to the Airbus SE (Ghana) bribery scandal.

On July 10, Interpol issued an international red notice for Samuel Mahama and three others over their alleged involvement in the Airbus Bribery Scandal.

Mr Samuel Mahama also known as Samuel Adam Fosters, a brother of former President John Mahama, has been accused of accepting a bribe to influence a public officer and acting in collaboration with a public officer for the public officer’s private gain.

Also declared wanted are Sarah Furneaux, Sarah Leanne Davis, and Philip Sean Middlemiss.

According to Interpol, the four individuals are “fugitives wanted for prosecution” for their roles in accepting and paying €3,909,756 as a bribe on behalf of AIRBUS SE, to some key Ghanaian public officials from 2009 to 2015.

Leading members of the opposition National Democratic Congress, since the issuance of the warrant, have described the move as a politically-motivated one aimed at tarnishing the image of the party’s flag bearer, Mr John Dramani Mahama.

However, in a statement to the press dated July 23, 2020, the special prosecutor, Mr Martin Amidu, explained that his office built a good case warranting the Interpol red notices.

He further revealed that: “The investigation into the Airbus SE bribery case in Ghana has been so thorough that it has even unearthed the suspected commission of other related crimes of impersonation as graduates of the University of Ghana, a civil servant, and forgeries in the application for the acquisition of a Ghanaian passport connect to this bribery case”.

“The unethical and touting lawyers ought to know better that the guarantors of the Ghanaian passport are prima facie abettors of the impersonation and forgeries, as much as the guarantor who claimed falsely to be a civil servant. The passport has relevance to documents employed in facilitating the Airbus SE (Ghana) bribery”, the statement said.

The Office of the Special Prosecutor also took the opportunity to “assure all Ghanaians that it cannot and will not be an instrument of any political party in its fight against corruption” while adding that crime will always remain a crime no matter whose ox is gored.

“It is better not to try to look into the eyes of the snake as the supporters of the four fugitives wanted for prosecution have made it their past time to do”, the statement said.

Following the issuance of the warrant, a Minister of Health in the erstwhile Mahama administration, Mr Alex Segbefia, said the Interpol Red Alert was a calculated plot by the Akufo-Addo government to embarrass Mr Mahama ahead of the 7 December 2020 polls.

“This so-called arrest warrant is a red herring”, Mr Segbefia said in a statement, adding: “It is an extension of their game plan to embarrass President John Mahama because of the impending elections”.

The former President’s brother has been accused of allegedly accepting a bribe to influence a public officer and acting in connivance with a public officer for the public officer’s private gain.

Interpol said Mr Mahama is liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 25 years for the offence.

The arrest warrant said once Mr Adam Mahama is traced, “assurances are given that extradition will be sought upon the arrest of the person, in conformity with national laws and/or the applicable bilateral and multilateral treaties.”

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.

Mr Segbefia, however, said: “A Red Notice is usually issued against a criminal fugitive on the run who seeks actively to evade justice”.

“It is a notice published by Interpol to law enforcement agents across the world requesting them to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending his extradition”.

“When it is published, it is not Interpol seeking the location and arrest of the person, but rather the country that requests the publication”, he noted, adding: “Procedurally, Interpol would publish a Red Notice at the request of a member country provided the request meets the constitutional requirements of Interpol”.

“A Red Notice is, however, a voluntary system”, he asserted, pointing out that: “A state is, therefore, not obliged to make an arrest based on its publication, and can decide to ignore it”.

“This is because it is not an arrest warrant, and countries can themselves determine what weight to give such notice”.

“What is unusual about this particular Red Notice”, he observed, “is that the Ghana government knows where Samuel Mahama lives in the UK up to his exact residential address”.

“One needs to bear in mind that all the hullabaloo about Airbus emanated from the UK courts, who have dealt with it and settled it. And yet, even though he and the other persons named in the Red Notice are British nationals, the UK government has not thought it fit to prefer any charges against them”, mentioned.

The ex-president’s brother, Mr Segbefia insisted, “is not considered a flight-risk, so, no restrictions have been imposed on him and he has not been asked to hand over his passport”.

“Why would the UK government, based on the same facts as are narrated in the Red Notice, arrest him for Ghana government?” he wondered.

“Besides, Ghana has an extradition treaty with the UK. It also has a Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement with the UK”, so, “Why publish Red Notice when the Ghana Government can formally ask for his extradition through regular channels?”

Mr Segbefia said the Special Prosecutor “must be aware that it is forlorn hope that the UK government would extradite the three named persons”.

“It is interesting”, he noted, “how recently, the scurrilous story found its way onto the front pages of the controversial Sun newspaper in the UK”.

“Individuals behind that publication are suspected to be closely tied to the family of Akufo-Addo”, he alleged.

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