April 14, 2020 / 12:34 AM / 2 months ago

U.S. SEC charges ex-Goldman Sachs banker for bribes to Ghana officials

FILE PHOTO: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission logo adorns an office door at the SEC headquarters in Washington, June 24, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

(Reuters) - The U.S. securities regulator on Monday charged a former banker at Goldman Sachs Group Inc for arranging at least $2.5 million in bribes to be paid to Ghana government officials to gain approval for a client’s power plant project.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said here Asante Berko, a former employee at a subsidiary of the U.S. lender, arranged the bribes for a Turkish energy company to funnel the money to a Ghana-based intermediary, which then paid the local officials.

“Goldman Sachs fully cooperated with the SEC’s investigation and as stated by the SEC in its press release, the firm’s compliance personnel took appropriate steps to prevent the firm from participating in the transaction,” company spokeswoman Nicole Sharp said.

Berko helped the Ghana-based intermediary pay more than $200,000 in bribes to various other government officials, and personally paid more than $60,000 to members of the Ghanaian parliament and other government officials, the SEC statement said, adding that Berko took deliberate measures to prevent his employer from detecting the bribery scheme.

The regulator filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and is seeking monetary penalties, among other remedies, against Berko.

The Wall Street Journal had reported the news earlier in the day.

Reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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