Former Deputy Minister for Finance and Member of Parliament (MP) for Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam Constituency, has called Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, to give a detailed breakdown of individuals and companies that he had paid judgement debts to since the Akufo-Addo government took over the reigns of this country.
Cassiel Ato Forson’s call, has left questions in the minds of many, as to why the recent Auditor General’s Reports prepared by Daniel Domelevo, are not capturing judgment debts as happened under his predecessor, Richard Quartey, who exposed the GHC51million judgment debt paid to Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
The MP questioned, whether McDan Ltd and Bankswitch Ghana Limited , whose owners or legal representatives are connected to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Akufo-Addo government are beneficiaries of over GH¢286million already paid out.
Daniel McKorley, who owns McDan Group of Companies, is a friend to President Akufo-Addo and many members of the first family, while Accra-based lawyer, Ace Ankomah, an NPP sympathizer, had served as lawyer for the Bankswitch Ghana, both Ghanaian courts and the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which awarded damages amounting to US$197 million judgment debt to the company.
Ace, had ex-Minister of State at the Finance Ministry in the Kufuor administration, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, as his key witness.Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, is currently the Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation in the Akufo-Addo government.
Bankswitch Ghana, according to Ato Forson, had illegally been paid additional GHc80 million by the Akufo-Addo government, aside the sum of GH¢286million the Mahama government had paid it, prior to the NDC exiting office in 2017.
Last Friday, Cassiel Ato Forson, also queried whether former Attorney-General, Martin Amidu, who is now the Special Prosecutor profited from the huge sum.
According to him, the Finance Minister’s claim that the Akufo-Addo government inherited over GH¢480 million judgement debt from the Mahama administration is untrue, hence his request.
The MP was speaking after Ken Ofori-Atta, said to parliament that the Ministry of Finance, had outstanding judgement debt of over GH¢480 million before the NPP came into power.
This was in response to a question by MP for Mion, Mohammed Abdul-Aziz, who asked the Finance Minister, how much the government had paid in judgement debt from January 2017 to date.
The Finance Minister said “in January 2017 the outstanding judgement debt which we came to meet totalled GH¢482, 413,354.13. In addition, a number of cases have been pending in court; out of this a further GH¢197,076 has crystalized bringing the total amount to GH¢679, 489, 792.28”.
According to Mr Ofori Atta, the NPP administration inherited a total of GH¢482,413,354.13 million from its predecessor, NDC. The NPP he said, also accrued GH¢197,076,438.15, over the last two years “bringing the total amount to GH¢679,489,792.28”.
“In total, we have had no choice but to pay 42percent of the outstanding, which is approximately 94 million yearly, due to the garnisheeing of our accounts and the renegotiations held,” Mr Ofori Atta added.
Mr Ofori Atta, further explained that, the government’s approach to renegotiating most of these default judgements, yielded in the state saving in excess of GH¢200 million.
“For example, on one instance we managed to save the taxpayer GH¢90million through negotiations. In another instance, we negotiated a savings of GH¢130million on a claim of over GH¢180million,” he revealed.
The debts were incurred, following court orders for breaches of contracts, largely compensations for personal injury claims and acquisitions, which cannot be ignored.
However, the Minority, has described the Minister’s response as dissatisfying. Members of the opposition NDC, say the responses lacked detailed information to enable them to discuss the issue from informed positions.
Spokesperson on Finance, Ato Forson, demanded to know if the beneficiaries included corporate organisations such as Bankswitch, McDan Ltd, as well as former Attorney-General, Martin Amidu, who coincidentally had chased Alfred Woyome for the GH¢51 million during John Atta Mills and John Mahama regimes.
Mr Amidu -who single-handedly led the crusade against the state paying GH¢51million to Alfred Woyome in default judgement- had sued for damages and costs, over his “unlawful dismissal” from late President John Atta Mills’ government in 2012.
In the case of Bankswitch Ghana Limited which Mr Forson alleged, was paid GH¢80m as judgement debt, had already been paid a sum GH¢286million prior to the NDC exiting office, after the company won a case against the state.
That amount represents the exact amount due the company in default judgement, the former Deputy Finance Minister told Evans Mensah, on Top Story on Joy FM, Friday.
“So for some someone to go out there and pay additional GH GH¢80m…it is important for us to be aware,” he argued, but “unfortunately, he failed to give us that information,” he argued.
However, Mr Ato-forson, was quick to dispute the claims by the Finance Minister saying “the Finance Minister has the responsibility to give us breakdown to who the ministry of finance has paid, we are hearing that they have paid the like of McDan, bank switch and even the Special Prosecutor an amount of judgment.
As to whether they qualify to receive that amount is something we would have to investigate and that is why I requested from the minster responsible for finance to give us the breakdown.”
Meanwhile, Ken Ofori-Atta, has claimed that his ministry have been able to save tax payers an amount of GH¢90 million through negotiations, further noting that government pays over GH¢94 million to individuals and companies in judgement debt yearly.
This, according to him, is due to orders from the court for breaches of contracts and largely compensations for personal injury claims and acquisitions which cannot be ignored.
But Minority Spokesperson Finance, Casiel Ato Forson, wants the Finance Ministry to publish the list of individuals and organizations, who benefited from the payment of approximately GH¢282million as announced to Parliament by Finance Minister, last Friday.