Andrew Egyapa Mercer, the Deputy Minister-designate for Energy, has been cleared by the Appointments Committee of Parliament and recommended for approval after the Committee deferred his nomination after he was vetted on Monday, June 7, 2021.
According to Mahama Ayariga, Egyapa Mercer’s issue that came up during his vetting was not an issue that should be the basis for his nomination to be withheld, therefore, the Committee is recommending him for approval.
“If you disagree with the way a Minister labels a transaction which is a legal document, for me, it is a matter of opinion about a legal document. It is not the kind of issue that I will withhold my consent to the approval of somebody as a deputy minister. The Committee is therefore recommending him,” he explained in a JoyNews report monitored by GhanaWeb.
During his vetting, Mercer was asked about the Akufo-Addo-led government’s decision to abrogate the Power Distribution Services (PDS) – Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) agreement in 2019 because it had detected fraud in the insurance covering the deal.
Mercer told the committee that “the then-Minister of Energy Peter Amewu- misspoke,” in describing the problem with the deal as fraudulent.
He explained, “I disagree with his choice of words in describing the transaction as fraudulent and I still disagree with him now. Because I read the statement issued by the Minister of Information, the official mouthpiece of the Republic of Ghana. And in that statement, the information minister said the government had detected material breaches.
“Nowhere in the official communication were the words fraud used.”
The Minority Chief Whip in Parliament, Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka and Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu brought back the issue for further interrogation with Mubarak asking Mercer to define fraud.
Chairman of the Committee, Joseph Osei Owusu, also quizzed Egyapa Mercer on the issue, asking, “will misrepresenting a fact amount to fraud?”
Mercer answered, “If it was with the intent to deceive, then it will amount to fraudulent misrepresentation.”
This generated some back and forth between the Committee Members and the nominee but he [Mercer] agreed with a suggestion by Muntaka that misrepresentation could amount to fraud.
“With the chairman having drawn my attention to the potential misrepresentation being fraudulent, I am prepared to change my position with regards to that aspect of my response,” he said.
Mahama Ayariga noted that even though the word fraud means differently to a lawyer and the ordinary Ghanaian, what transpired at the vetting of Andrew Egyapa Mercer “is not the kind of weighty matter to which I would refuse somebody a nomination to be a Deputy Minister”.
He indicated that Andrew Egyapa Mercer being a lawyer failed to communicate himself well to the members of the Appointments Committee.
“He backtracked, I listened to him. I just felt he couldn’t express himself very well. I mean, he couldn’t communicate effectively his jurisprudence around this issue. He didn’t explain it well, I thought as a more senior lawyer, he wasn’t probably communicating it well so some members of the Committee did not understand exactly what he was trying to convey,” he said.
Egyapa Mercer’s connection with PDS
After the cancellation, there were calls for the prosecution of individuals who played various roles involving the contract.
Agyapa Mercer was one of the individuals whose name popped up.
However, he has refuted claims of his involvement in the PDS deal, particularly as the Director for the company.
“Interestingly, because the documentation for the transaction had my name as Director and one of the shareholders of PDS then, it became easy to associate me with PDS and create the impression as if to say I was connected to PDS,” he said.
“The truth of the matter is that I am not a Director of PDS, nor am I a shareholder of PDS.”
“In 2014, I was engaged to incorporate a company for a client of mine who asked me to be Director-Secretary which is pretty much usual of Law practitioners. It turned out that, that company which is called TG Energy went into some unincorporated joint-venture, which is usually referred to as consortium, that then bid for the ECG-PSP process and ultimately, when they won, incorporated a company called PDS which contracted with the Government of Ghana.
“The cooperate law principles are quite clear that a company is separate and distinct from its shareholders and that indeed, PDS, when it was incorporated, had its own directors and Secretary. I did an official search, and it’s clear who the directors of PDS and shareholders are. Nowhere is Andrew Mercer found in these two categories,” he explained.
He continued: “Indeed, I am not a shareholder of the company that I incorporated for a client so the question of conflict of interest in itself does not arise and has never arisen.”