It is gradually emerging that President John Evans Atta Mills may, after all, not be immune to bribery and corruption as some corporate bodies troop to the Castle, Osu, the seat of government, attempting to bribe the president.
Latest in the series of leaked cables from the whistle-blowing website, Wikileaks, is an open admission by President Mills that some oil companies had attempted to offer him a juicy package to influence him.
The cables, which were sent on February 16, 2010, indicated that President Mills held a meeting with US Assistant Secretary of States, Johnnie Carson, accompanied by the US Ambassador, Special Assistant, Cook and one Econoff on February 3, 2010.
At the said meeting, President Mills told the aforementioned individuals how he was committed to putting the country’s oil proceeds to good use but had cause to complain that a number of corrupt oil company representatives had attempted to bribe him.
"Assistant Secretary Carson, accompanied by the Ambassador, Donald Teittelbaum, Special Assistant Cook and Econof, met with President John Atta Mills on February 3, 2010, Carson strongly emphasized the need for leadership in ensuring that Ghana oil resources, arc managed for the benefit of the country. He stressed the importance of adherence to rule of law and transparency to maintain Ghana’s attractiveness for investment and its ultimate success in, developing its oil resources. President Mills said he is determined to ensure oil will be a blessing, but that a number of corrupt oil company representatives have attempted to bribe him. He said that he refused the money and was offended by their efforts," the leaked report said.
President Mills however failed to disclose the names and identities of the supposed companies involved but only said "he said that he refused the money and was offended by their efforts" since he was committed to the rule of law and transparency.
President Mills could not hide his government’s reservations in dealing with Kosmos Energy which is currently producing oil along with Jubilee oil partners in the country, accusing the company of not being transparent in their dealing with the Government of Ghana (GoG).
He emphasized the importance of respect in dealing with the GoG, accusing Kosmos Energy of multiple offenses.
Mills claimed that Kosmos initially denied that they were planning to sell their assets in the Jubilee Fields when they were said to be interested in selling:
At the time, President Mills, who appeared bitter, indicated that Kosmos had invited a delegation to go to London to discuss a potential sale, but before the meeting, the CEO of ExxonMobil informed him that Exxon had entered into an exclusive agreement with Kosmos to purchase the asset.
Whilst he acknowledged the right of Exxon to enter into such an agreement with Kosmos, President Mills said he felt both Ghana and he personally had been misled and disrespected by Kosmos.
Two days before President Mills made these disclosures to the US officials, the Minister of Energy, Dr. Joe Oteng-Adjei, wrote a letter to ExxonMobil CEO Tillerson, saying the GoG was unable to support an ExxonMobil acquisition of Kosmos’s Ghana assets as long as the companies retained their exclusivity agreement and denied the GoG a role in the asset acquisition process.
Later, when President Mills met the US officials, he praised ExxonMobil’s expertise in oil exploration and production Whilst raising issues with Kosmos letting other companies view sensitive data in what he described as a violation of Ghanaian law.
Under normal circumstance the President said Kosmos should have sought the consent or the GoG before such access could he granted, indicating that Kosmos had exposed documents on the oil to 26 companies when it was supposed to be confidential.
Mills accused management of Kosmos of ignoring a proposal by government to buy its shares in the Jubilee Fields when the announced their intention to sell.
That notwithstanding, he indicated that GoG would adhere to transparency and the rule of law in its dealings with Kosmos, according to the cables "he also said that he did not want to create the impression that the GoG was singling out anyone company for mistreatment".
President Mills was also quoted as telling the United States authorities he wanted equipment installed in the presidential lounge of the airport to screen his entourage for drugs when leaving the country.
"Mills wants these officials to be checked in the privacy or his suite to avoid any surprises if they are caught carrying drugs," the cables released on December 14, 2009 read. He also told the US officials that "elements of his government are already compromised and that officials at the airport tipped off drug traffickers about operations there".