The former Managing Director of the Tema Oil Refinery, Asante Berko, has rejected media reports suggesting that he has been found guilty by the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for arranging bribes for government officials in Ghana to assist a client win a power plant contract.

Mr. Berko in a statement issued by his lawyers said, contrary to media reports, neither SEC nor the court found him guilty of paying bribes to government officials.

He clarified that U.S SEC only requested for the payment of ill-gotten gains he had received from a Turkish energy company as compensation for arranging a bribery scheme.

Mr. Berko further insisted that the said payment was neither a fine nor a penalty.

“In fact, Mr. Berko recently settled a case with the Securities [not Security] & Exchange Commission without admitting or denying the allegations in the SEC’s complaint. Neither the SEC nor the court found Mr. Berko guilty. The SEC sought disgorgement of those allegedly “ill-gotten gains,” plus interest, plus a monetary penalty.”

“Even before Mr. Berko responded to the SEC’s complaint, the SEC agreed to settle for disgorgement of $275,000 (plus interest), with no penalty. The payment by Mr. Berko is not a fine or a penalty. No one found Mr. Berko guilty. Mr. Berko settled with the SEC, and the SEC’s case is now closed,” the statement said.

Mr. Berko was charged by the SEC in an April 2020 civil lawsuit with facilitating as much as $4.5 million in bribes to help a Turkish energy company win a contract to build a power plant in Ghana.

He personally paid at least $66,000 to members of the Ghanaian parliament, according to the SEC’s lawsuit, which accused him of violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Below is the statement from Mr. Berko 

A news story that appeared today in starrfm.com.gh reported that our firm’s client, Asante Berko, “has been found guilty by the Security and Exchange Commission in the USA.” This statement is false.

In fact, Mr. Berko recently settled a case with the Securities [not Security] & Exchange Commission without admitting or denying the allegations in the SEC’s complaint. Neither the SEC nor the court found Mr. Berko guilty.

In their complaint, the SEC alleged that Mr. Berko had received $2 million as compensation from a Turkish energy company “for arranging the bribery scheme.” The SEC sought disgorgement of those allegedly “ill-gotten gains,” plus interest, plus a monetary penalty. Even before Mr. Berko responded to the SEC’s complaint, the SEC agreed to settle for disgorgement of $275,000 (plus interest), with no penalty. The payment by Mr. Berko is not a fine or a penalty.

Much of the story reported in starrfm.com.gh was drawn word for word from a story that appeared in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, which accurately reported the terms of the settlement. It is unfortunate that starrfm.com.gh added an opening paragraph that falsely described what happened in the United States. No one found Mr. Berko guilty. Mr. Berko settled with the SEC, and the SEC’s case is now closed.

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