Lawyers for Gabby Otchere-Darko, senior partner of the corporate law firm Africa Legal Associates (ALA), have written to the publishers and editor of the Herald newspaper to retract what they describe as a “highly defamatory story”, published in the 4-6 September 2020 edition of the newspaper, with the headline “Agyapa deal lands UK law firm in dirty conflict of interest in Ghana”.
According to a copy of the letter dated 10 September 2020 and signed by Kissi Agyebeng, managing partner of Cromwell Gray LLP, the Herald “falsely published that our client has been in cahoots with his wife, the Managing Partner of ALA and board member of the national oil corporation, GNPC, to unduly ‘source off legal work in respect of government transactions to an international law firm’.
“ln particular, you published that our client and his wife got outsourced a legal brief through their law firm Africa Legal Associates by the international law firm in respect of a liquefied natural gas regasification transaction involving Ghana National Petroleum Corporation and Gazprom. In addition, you sought to establish the same nexus between Africa Legal Associates and the international law firm in respect of the Agyapa Royalties Limited brief,” the statement explained.
It is Gabby Otchere-Darko’s contention that a simple check by the Herald “would have established that Africa Legal Associates was not local counsel to the international law fim on the liquefied natural gas regasification transaction”.
Moreover, ALA has never done any work for GNPC. Our checks show that the external law firm for GNPC is rather Lithur Brew & Co, a law firm which has the former attorney general Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong as managing partner.
“It would have also revealed that the international law firm did not outsource legal work to Africa Legal Associates on the Agyapa Royalties Limited transaction. But that Africa Legal Associates was engaged by Imara Corporate Finance (Pty) Limited,” the demand notice said.
Our checks further show that the main transaction advisor, Imara of South Africa, subcontracted the law firms White & Case, Bentsi-Enchill Letsa & Ankomah (BELA) and ALA to work on the transaction and paid them after Imara was paid by the Ministry of Finance.
The demand notice for retraction of the publication further makes clear that this very transaction (Agyapa Royalties Ltd transaction) is the only case which Africa Legal Associates (ALA) and White & Case have worked on together that involves the Government of Ghana and even then, ALA was subcontracted by the South Africa-based Imara. BELA, as indicated, is the other local law firm that also worked on the transaction.
The letter, addressed for the attention of Larry-Alans Dogbey, the editor of the Herald, demanded that the newspaper retract its false publication in the newspaper and on its online portal.
Our checks show that the newspaper has published the letter but is yet to retract.
“We reserve our client’s instruction to commence legal action should you fail to retract,” the demand notice concluded.
Our checks show that ALA has not done any direct Government of Ghana work with White & Case, which has been active in Ghana for decades and was also active under the previous government.
White & Case is among the most respected law firms in the world, placed among the top ten in the world.
Other transaction advisors on this Agyapa deal include Merrill Lynch International, JP Morgan Securities Plc, Peel Hunt LLP, Tamesis Partners LLP, and BMO Capital Markets Ltd.
Wilberforce Asare / Asaase Radio
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