As Yet Another Letter Deepens Confusion
The first Energy Minister in the John Kufuor administration has been smoked out from hibernation and has started giving contradictory accounts on the July 2001 sale of Discoverer 511, a drillship belonging to the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) for 24 million United States Dollars.
In the latest twist to the controversial matter, which is being probed at the Judgment Debt Commission, Mr. Albert Kan-Dapaah, revealed on an Accra-based radio station that Societe Generale, who had sued GNPC in a UK High Court over losses it incurred from hedging arrangements with GNPC, rather approached the government of Ghana for negotiation, and not the other way round.
His revelation comes against a May 11, 2001 letter to Nana Akufo-Addo by Bindman and Partners, the UK Law firm defending GNPC in the UK Court, saying that GNPC had a solid case to rebuff Societe Generale’s claim, hence had filed a defense and counterclaim against the French bank. But shockingly, the then government according to Mr. Kan-Dapaah, opted for negotiation at the instance of the claimants.
Meanwhile, The Herald has intercepted yet another memo dated June 1, 2001 from the Ministry of Energy ostensibly written by Mr. Kan-Dapaah and sent to then President John Agyekum Kufuor, suggesting the government of rather paid 14 million United States Dollars to the French bank, Societe Generale, contrary to the 19.5 million United States Dollars, told Ghanaians.
Mr. Kan-Dapaah, wrote “this memo is submitted further to the one submitted earlier on the 22nd of May 2001, after the Committee put together to negotiate with Societe Generale on GNPC on hedging losses had submitted its report. A copy of the said report was attached to my earlier memo”.
He went on “As your Excellency may recall, on the recommendations of the Committee, I had intimated to your Excellency that the matter had become stalemated. Societe Generale would not accept any settlement figure less than $14 million. The Attorney General on the other hand is clear that our defence to the claim is hopeless”.
Mr. Kan-Dapaah told President Kufuor in the memo that “Your Excellency, I still believe that it would worth our while to send the Chairman of the negotiating team to Paris to negotiate with Societe Generale directly with a mandate to settle for $12 million. If that fails, we should pay the $14m. Societe Generale has also promised to co-operate with us by furnishing us with documents they believe were forged by Mr. Tsikata to facilitate his activities”.
“Meanwhile, we keep on incurring costs and legal charges. I am informed that on the 15th May further costs were awarded against us by a London High Court and the matter is now listed to be struck out. There was no representation by our Solicitors in London on the 15th of May. They did not attend court because we have not paid our mounting legal fees to them”, Mr. Kan-Dapaah, warned President Kufuor in the June 1, 2001 memo.
Last Monday, on an Accra-based radio station, Citi FM, the former Energy Minister also revealed that Nick Mends, a Vice-President in charge of Commodities in the New York office of the Societe Generale, with whom he had started negotiations with in Accra, to settled a 40 million United States claim against GNPC, was a Ghanaian but not an American as thought by many, including investigators at the Judgment Debt Commission.
Mr. Kan-Dapaah, in the interview with Citi FM’s Richard Dela Sky, also confirmed being the author of an earlier memo dated 5/8/01 and sent to then President Kufuor on his negotiations with Mr. Nick Mends in Accra, but accused The Herald of twisting the content of that document for what he claims was “to suit a particular political agenda against my person”.
The ex-minister was responding to questions thrown at him by Mr. Sky, following an abusive statement he issued on The Herald and its Managing Editor Larry Dogbey on the newspaper publication dated Wednesday October 30 to Thursday, October 31, 2013 in which 5/8/01 memo was published.
The Herald is yet to officially receive a copy of Mr. Kan-Dapaah’s abusive reaction, although he has sent it to other newspapers including, the New Crusading Guide, the Daily Guide and radio stations including, Citi FM and Radio XYZ, as well as internet portals.
The Herald’s story had revealed discussions which went on in Ghana between him and officials of the Societe Generale to have their claim against GNPC settled out of court.
Meanwhile, The Herald’s additional investigations into the Societe Generale and GNPC debacle have revealed that the memo dated 5/8/01 could not have been written in August 2001, three clear weeks after Deputy Energy Minister, Mr. K.T. Hammond negotiated a settlement with officials of Societe Generale in London.
This also means that the said meeting between Mr. Kan-Dapaah and Nick Minds was not held in August 2001, as suggested in that memo of Mr. Kan-Dapaah.
The memo was dated, using the American way of dating document, where the month preceded the day the document was written. Implying that the said memo was actually written on Tuesday, May 8, 2001 not the British style of dating documents where the month always preceded the day and the year.
Indeed, Mr. Kweku Baako, Managing Editor of the New Crusading Guide, last Saturday, on Joy FM and Multi TV’s Current Affairs programme, Newsfile, admitted that the said memo, whose content has since been admitted by Mr. Kan-Dapaah, was dated in the American way.
Both the May 8 and June 1, 2001 memo sent to President Kufuor are publish below.
Mr. Kan-Dapaah, in the June 1, 2001 told President Kufuor “the Chairman of the team, my Deputy, who is a lawyer with right of audience before the English Courts, could also proceed from Paris to London to retrieve the relevant papers from our Solicitors. He would then apply to settle the matter out of Court. The settlement of this debt is quite independent of our intended sale of the D511 rig.
“Time is of the essence in this matter, Your Excellency, Mr. Kan-Dapaah concluded.
The June 2001, in particular reveal that there was a committee put together to negotiate with Societe Generale on Hedging Losses and a report was submitted to Mr. Kan-Dapaah, and forwarded to President Kufuor.
It is, however, unclear if this committee is the one made up of Mr. K.T. Hammond, Ms. Gloria Akuffo and Dr. Gheysika Agambila, which Mr. Kan-Dapaah, had talked about in his memo dated May 8, 2001 in which he mentioned his negotiations with Mr. Nick Mends of Societe Generale, who had come to Ghana from his base in New York.
The content of that report by the said committee has become relevant and might be sought after by the Judgment Debt Commission led by Justice Yaw Appau, the Sole Commissioner.
Also relevant are officials of Societe Generale with documents confirming whether or not they received 19. 5 million United States Dollars or 14 million United States Dollars as negotiated settlement from GNPC. More to come!