Andrew Egyapa Mercer’s fate as the Deputy Minister of Energy will be decided by the Appointments Committee of Parliament after he failed to convince members of the Committee on why that word was used.
At the end of his vetting on Monday, June 7, 2021, the committee decided to put his nomination on hold until they review his vetting video before his final verdict.
Andrew Egyapa Mercer, the MP for Sekondi, had strongly disapproved of former Minister for Energy, Peter Amewu’s comment that the PDS-ECG deal was fraudulent.
At 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 for 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.
“Following the investigation that led to the termination of the transaction, nowhere in the official communication were the words fraud used, I have read the report and the issues were clear.
Mr Chairman, I am a lawyer, and so words like fraud, which connotes grave offences, ought not to be used loosely without requisite fact or evidence to support it. So with all the information available to me at the time, led me to draw the conclusion that the then Minister of Energy had misspoken.”
The Minority Chief Whip in Parliament Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka and Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu reintroduced 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] eventually agreed to 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.
Andrew Egyapa Mercer was on Monday vetted together with Rev Ntim Fodjour, George Mireku Duker and Tina Mensah.
After his vetting, members of the Appointments Committee held a closed-door meeting and unanimously agreed on Rev Ntim Fodjour, George Mireku Duker and Tina Mensah for approval as Deputy Ministers of Education, Lands and Natural Resources and Health respectively.
The committee, however, did not decide on Egyapa Mercer’s nomination because his vetting video, according to sources, will be reviewed by the committee to help them decide later.
Egyapa Mercer’s connection with the PDS
After the cancellation, there calls for the prosecution of individuals who played various roles involving the contract.
Agyapa Mercer was 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-ventureship, 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 a shareholder of the company that I incorporated for the client, so the question of conflict of interest in itself does not arise and has never arisen”.