Judgment Debt Commission Gets Interesting Today
An ex-Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), on whose watch the Discoverer 511 was sold by the Kufuor government, will today storm the Judgment Dept Commission sitting, to give accounts of the sale of the drill ship to pay off a debt owed Societe Generale, in 2001.
Dr. A Ofori Quaah, was summoned by the Commission from his base in the United Kingdom (UK) to assist the Commission unravel, the circumstances that led to the sale of the drill ship, which officials of the Kufuor government are giving conflicting accounts for.
Both Dr. A Ofori Quaah and ex-Energy Minister, Albert Kan-Dapaah in two separate letters, recently published by The Herald, suggested that GNPC was kept in darkness throughout the transaction, while monies were paid to the various parties at the Ministerial level without the involvement of the technocrats, especially those at the GNPC.
The Corporation was to have an in-depth input into the various payments, but was interestingly sidelined, while the then Deputy Energy Minister, K.T. Hammond, singlehandedly made the various colossal payments, including a whopping US$1 million legal fee to a UK law firm, Constant and Constant, where he is reported to have worked as a lawyer.
While the Bank of Ghana (BoG) does not have records of any cash transfer before and after the sale of the drill ship, Discoverer 511, the then owner of the ship, the GNPC, does not have the transaction records of the sale ordered by the Ministry of Energy either.
As a result, the period of the sale of the ship, the buyer and the actual judgment debt due Societe General are yet to be established by the Commission on Judgment Debts.
Dr. Ofori Quaah’s testimony is expected to aid the probe into events leading to and after to the sale of such a vital national asset, and whether or not the money raised from the sale was used to settle the said debt and where exactly the rest of the money went.
Already, the spokesperson for the Commission has indicated that the Commission is in the process of conducting a forensic audit on the sale and it is anticipated that in the coming weeks, Ghanaians will get to know the whole truth.
The GNPC have not been able to produce the transaction report because, according to its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Nana Boakye Asafu-Adjaye, the corporation was not involved in the sale of the ship.
Details of the US$24 million GNPC drillship sale, has started filtering in with intriguing revelation from the former Energy Minister, Albert Kan-Dapaah that his Deputy, Kwabena Tahir Hammond, acted wrongfully by not paying back the US$3.5 million balance from the sale, into the coffers of the GNPC.
Indeed, Mr. Kan-Dapaah’s letter dated October 24, 2001 and addressed to the then Board Chairman of the GNPC, Dr. Donkoh Fordwor, portrayed the Corporation as a lame duck, only nodding to already decided payments made on its behalf by Mr. K.T. Hammond from the US$24 million drillship purchase price.
Mr. Kan-Dapaah also created an impression that Dr. Donkoh Fordwor and the other members on the GNPC Board were only to give a retroactive approvals to the many payments made on their behalf without their input.
A third document, available to The Herald, disclosed that the sale of the drillship, Discoverer 511, was completed between July 5 to 10, 2001. However, The Herald is informed that this was done at a time GNPC had no Board of Directors to approve the huge transactions.
It was until September 2001, when a Board was put in place and it appears had to give retroactive effect to all its transactions by the then government.
The payments, the letter revealed included, US$19.5 million to Societe Generale, a US$1million to a United Kingdom-based law firm, Constant and Constant as “legal fee” with the US$3.5 million paid to the Ministry of Finance, instead of GNPC.
The then Energy Minister in the same letter (see front page), mentioned a meeting held between the GNPC Board Chairman on Monday October 22, 2001, where a request ostensibly from the company was made for details of the payment, made on its behalf by K.T. Hammond to be made available to them.
Mr. Kan-Dapaah’s letter also revealed to the Board Chairman that the UK Law firm, Constant and Constant had been put in-charge of an Escrow Account created from the remainder of the US$24 million purchase price meant to pay for other claims on the drillship.
He indicated that all such claims would have to be approved by the GNPC, and the balance on this account will be returned to GNPC when all the verifiable liabilities have been settled. The claims, he said that were already settled had been “properly cross-checked by my Deputy with GNPC to ensure that they were properly due”.
What is shocking was that before Mr. Kan-Dapaah’s letter, the then Acting Chief Executive, one Dr. A Ofori Quaah, had in September of 2001, written to the same Energy Minister seeking confirmation on whether any payments have been effected to the D-511 related creditors by him or
through a third party, confirming indeed, Mr. T. K. Hammond had sideline GNPC.
Dr. A Ofori Quaah, who is currently based in London, in his letter to Mr. Kan-Dapaah, indicated “We request for a schedule of payment if indeed any payment have been made. We need this information to enable us complete our reconciliation for the on-going restructuring exercise”, further confirming K.T Hammond was not consulting the GNPC, while disbursing the monies, contrary to his boss’ letter.