The standoff between the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) appears to be only warming up as ACEP has hit back again, this time with evidence that Gilad Mintzer, one of the directors of AGM Petroleum, was captured as Ghanaian in the company’s incorporation documents’ when he is not.
In a strongly worded rebuttal last week, the GNPC had referred to ACEP’s claims as “sensational, non-factual and scandalous”, denying that Gilad Minzter has been falsely presented as Ghanaian.
“…It is simply not true that Mr. Gilad Mintzer is described in the company incorporation documents or otherwise represented to government as a Ghanaian,” the GNPC said.
A copy of the incorporation documents, which ACEP said it obtained from the Registrar General’s Department, however gives the nationalities of both directors of AGM Petroleum Ghana Limited — David Addo Ashong and Gilad Mintzer — as Ghanaians.
When contacted, David Addo Ashong admitted that a mistake had occurred from the Registrar General’s Department.
“The simple matter is this: in the forms we filled and at all times we have consistently represented Gilad Mintzer as an Israeli citizen. Gilad and I are lawyers and we are nominee directors in these companies. We have no beneficial interest in these companies; we are working for people,” he said.
“What happened was that, when you did your story and we heard about it, I went to the Registrar General’s Department and got them to do a search; and what I saw was consistent with your story, it showed Gilad as a Ghanaian. If you go to the documentation you will see that the mistake is from the Registrar General’s Department. When they were inputting their data, instead of putting Israeli they wrote Ghanaian. I have written to them to point out this error and they are going to change and correct their records.”
But GNPC’s Head of Corporate Affairs Eric Pwadura would have none of what he calls ACEP’s “mischief’, insisting the original document from the Registrar General’s Department showed Mintzer as an Israeli.
“I don’t know where they (ACEP) got their information from. It’s a mistake on ACEP’s part. I can’t even vouch for the authenticity of their document.”
Although the GNPC has denied all the claims of secrecy in its deal with AGM Petroleum on the South Deep Water Tano oil Block, ACEP maintains that it has won “victory for transparency” by forcing out information from the GNPC.
ACEP said it is however not satisfied with information given by the GNPC on the beneficial owners of the chain of companies linked to the oil deal.
“The GNPC has conceded that AGM Ghana Limited is 100% owned by AGM Gibraltar (a point we made in our statement) which is also owned by AGR Energy, Minexco and MED Songhai Developers with 49.5%, 48% and 2.5% shareholding respectively. This could not have been known to Ghanaians if we relied on the incorporation documents of AGM Ghana. “However, unlike AGR Energy that is listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange and MED Songhai Developers whose beneficial owners are now known, the beneficial ownership of Minexco OGG remains a mystery. The GNPC will do the nation a great service if it can provide this information in its demonstration of transparency as it wants us to believe.
“Furthermore, we challenge GNPC to publish the approved contract to enable Ghanaians debate the terms negotiated on our behalf before Parliament considers it. This is the spirit behind transparency and accountability,” said a press statement from ACEP.
Other aspects of the ACEP statement read as follows:
“For tax avoidance purposes, companies register in tax havens — and AGM Gibraltar, owners of AGM Ghana, is no exception. The registration of AGM in Gibraltar (a tax haven) before Ghana was therefore an attempt to conceal profits and avoid taxes to the state when production commences after discovery of crude oil. Moreover, the complex chain of subsidiaries of the AGM Group creates an octopus (AGM Ghana) whose identity has serious implications for revenue losses to the state.
“For example, AGM Ghana is owned by AGM Gibraltar. AGM Gibraltar is owned by AGR, Minexco OGG and MED Songhai Developers. Minexco OGG is owned by WA Natural Resources and Minexco Petroleum, also registered in Gibraltar. So it is difficult to determine who actually owns AGM Ghana, and we must be ready for a complex transaction that will involve substantial financial losses to Ghana through tax planning and transfer pricing.
“We are also concerned that GNPC and Government negotiated 35% corporate tax in this contract even though the risk profile on the block in contention (the South Deepwater Tano) is substantially reduced. This is not different from what we gave Tullow Oil and Kosmos when the risks levels were higher with no proven reserves of oil then.”
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