Sibton Switch Limited Transaction: Official of Bank of Ghana was dismissed for gross misconduct

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    The Bank of Ghana dismissed an official, Mr Gilbert Addy on September 13, 2019, for gross misconduct concerning the corrupt transaction and for accepting a bribe relative to the award of a contract to Sibton Switch Systems Limited in 2016.

    This decision was taken by the previous management of the Central Bank.

    FACTS

    A September 13, 2019 press statement by the Bank of Ghana revealed that secret and corrupt payments to the tune of GH 410, 000.00 was made to Mr Gilbert Addy, an official of the BoG by Sibton Switch Systems Limited and Sibton Communications Limited, the parent company of the former.

    The above payment, according to the BoG, was given to the official at the Bank of Ghana via GIB JUST Systems Limited, a shelf company, owned by Mr Gilbert Addy, a company for which he was listed as Director and Shareholder.

    These corrupt payments and bribes were uncovered by the Bank’s International Legal Counsel, Hogan Lovells, during their preparation of the Bank’s defence to the arbitration claim brought by Sibton Switch, in respect of the terminated contract.

    As part of their preparation for the hearing in London, International Legal Counsel undertook two fact-finding and investigative missions to Ghana from 14th – 17th August 2018 and subsequently from 8th – 17th May 2019, to gather and collate evidence.

     During these two missions, they gathered materials and interviewed all members of BoG staff who had been involved in this transaction, one way or the other. The investigations revealed a sham contract signed between Sibton Switch Limited and the shelf company, GIB JUST Systems Limited, which showed that further payments totalling USD 500,000 (GH¢2.7 million) were to be paid to him.

    The investigation also revealed the depth of involvement of Mr Gilbert Addy who deliberately concealed from the Bank of Ghana, the payments received and the USD 500,000 sham contract with Sibton Switch Ltd. Indeed, he deleted his email records to hide his misconduct. It became necessary for the Bank and its international lawyers to retrieve these records from email backups.

    These corrupt payments were also concealed from EOCO during their initial investigations into the Sibton Switch contract, in early 2017. The misconduct by Mr Gilbert Addy was of the most serious nature and a gross violation of the trust placed in him, breaching the Code of Conduct for Bank of Ghana staff, and the BoG Senior Staff Rules and Conditions of Service, as well as the Bank of Ghana Code of Ethics. Mr Gilbert Addy was the Project Manager leading the interoperability project. His role was to safeguard the Bank’s interests in the project but instead, he accepted huge bribes (which were more than 14 times his annual salary at the Bank of Ghana).

    ARBITRATION

    Sibton Switch Systems Limited filed a request for arbitration on April 9, 2018, against the Bank of Ghana specifically citing a breach by the BoG relative to the termination of the master agreement for the Ghana Retail Payment Systems Infrastructure in 2017.

    This agreement dealt with the grant of an exclusive right to Sibton Switch to construct, operate and own the Ghana Retail Payment Systems Infrastructure.

    On the assumption of power of a new government in 2016(NPP), the new management of the Bank of Ghana was sworn in. Therefore it became necessary for the new management to review the terms of the contract entered into by the previous administration.

    The new management per its review concluded that Sibton Switch Limited had failed to fulfil the conditions precedent for the effectiveness of the rights and obligations of the parties.

    The agreement between the BoG and Sibton Switch was therefore terminated on the basis that it never came into effect.

    Consequently, Sibton Switch went to the London International Court of Arbitration, seeking a sum of USD 478 million from the Bank of Ghana.

    The Public Procurement Authority’s approval for the project indicated that the contract was one-sided only in favour of Sibton Switch.

    It is on record that GhIPSS, a subsidiary of the Bank of Ghana was able to deliver the mobile payment systems interoperability at a cost that saved Ghana billions of cedis.

    A three-member panel of arbitrators on July 28, 2021, dismissed all claims brought against the BoG by Sibton Switch Systems Limited and issued awards in favour of the Central Bank.

    Sibton Switch System’s failure to comply with the orders of the Tribunal which included an interim award made on June 25, 2019, in favour of the Bank of Ghana, led to the dismissal of the claims. This required Sibton Switch to make an interim award payment for the security of costs.

    Furthermore, Sibton Switch was ordered to pay the BoG its arbitration costs in full, in respect of the BoG’s legal fees.

    Meanwhile, the Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. Ernest Addison has expressed his satisfaction about the favourable outcome for the Bank and also for the Nation as a result of the billions of Ghana Cedis saved the Country.