• Denies Negotiating With Societe Generale
• Suggests ex-President Was Deceived In $24 Million Drillship Sales
By Alfred K Dogbey
An ex-Deputy Minister of Finance, under the erstwhile President John Agyekum Kufour-led government, has vehemently denied any involvement in a team or a Committee, formed by then Minister of Energy, Albert Kan-Daapah, to help negotiate a debt owed French bank, Societe Generale by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), as claimed by Mr. Kan-Daapah.
In fact, “I don’t recollect negotiating with anybody from Societe Generale. What I do know for sure is that there was never such Committee for which I was a member”…. “Nobody ever told me to be part of any Committee and I don’t recall such Committee ever met which I was involved myself”, he stressed.
Dr. Ghesika A Agambila, asked that the same questions be directed at Ms. Gloria Akuffo, an ex-Deputy Minister of Justice also in the Kufuor administration, who Mr. Kan-Daapah, had also listed in the two letters, dated May 8 and June 1, 2001 as part of a three-member team of negotiators, led by his deputy K.T Hammond, to work out a settlement package with Societe Generale.
The ex-Deputy Finance Minister’s denial, suggest that Mr. Kan-Dapaah lied to then President Kufuor, to push forward the disposal of the GNPC oil drillship, Discoverer 511, for over US$24 million with the disbursements of the proceeds, shrouded in total mystery.
What is even shocking is that Mr. Kan-Dapaah, in the June 1, 2001 letter to President Kufuor, talked about meetings that were held between the KT
Hammond Committee, negotiating with Nick Mends of Societe Generale, and that the outcome of those meetings had been captured in a report earlier sent to President Kufuor on May 22, 2001.
However, it is turning out that there were no such meetings, and if ever there was a report submitted to President Kufuor, it must have been cooked. It is not clear to The Herald whether, both Kan-Dapaah and KT Hammond, submitted copies of the said report to the Judgment Debt Commission, when they appeared there on Monday.
Dr. Agambila, was responding to the secret memos addressed to then President Kufour by then Minister of Energy in connection with an out of court settlement in the case brought against GNPC by Societe Generale, leading to the sale of the GNPC drillship.
Dr. Agambila, in an interview, on an Accra-based radio station, Radio Gold last Tuesday, November 26, he gave an indication that he was hearing about the Committee for the first time, he flatly denied having any knowledge of any such negotiations or serving on a Committee that negotiated with officials of Societe Generale.
He emphasized that even though the issues surrounding the drillship took place nearly twelve years ago, he does not recalled being a member of any negotiating committee.
In fact, “I don’t recollect negotiating with anybody from Societe Generale. What I do know for sure is that there was never such Committee for which I was a member”, he stressed and directed the media to check from Ms. Gloria Akuffo who was also mentioned in the memo as a member.
On the first memo, dated May 8, 2001, Dr. Agambila opined its might have been “an idea botched with the President” (Kufuor).
But, however, when the second memo dated June 1, 2001, also signed by Mr. Kan-Daapah and addressed to President Kufour as the Committee’s report on the negotiation was read to Dr. Agambila, he quickly responded “nobody ever told me to be part of any Committee and I don’t recall such Committee ever met, which I was involved myself”.
According to him, “what I do remember was there were a lot of general discussions around 2001, there were a number of problem with the Government, contractors making claims, people making claims on Ghana Airways, with all these indebtedness, in fact it was general and national indebtedness” Dr.
He revealed that, “there was concern about GNPC’s indebtedness. The consensus among people [Government officials] was that, GNPC being a company in a poor country do not have the resources to engage in a risky business of oil exploration, which have been happening before”.
This, Dr. Agambila noted was agreed that “government should get it [GNPC] out of the oil exploration business and allow private companies to go into the business”.
He doubted, if Mr. Kan-Dapaah as a Minister will directly write to him as a Deputy, but not through his [Agambila’s] substantive boss, Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, who was the Finance Minister.
He also clarified that he had not cited any of such letter appointing him a member of a Committee concerning the drill ship sales or meeting officials of Societe Generale.
Meanwhile, Former President John Kufuor’s office has told XYZ News that his predecessor, Jerry Rawlings, must also be hauled before the Judgment Debt Commission, over the sale of a drill ship belonging to the GNPC in 2001, to defray a judgment debt.
Responding to a request by pro-government group, Inside Ghana, for the Commission to invite Mr. Kufuor and his former Attorney General, Nana Akufo-Addo, over the matter, the former President’s Spokesperson, Frank Agyekum, said Mr. Rawlings, must also, in like manner, be invited to account for the stewardship of former GNPC CEO, Tsatsu Tsikata, under whose tenure the Corporation incurred certain debts which necessitated the sale of the vessel.
”If we want to stretch it to that far, then of course we should say that President Rawlings should answer for the things that Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata did because it was President Rawlings who appointed Tsikata as Chief Executive”, Mr. Agyekum argued.
The Discoverer 511 was sold for US$24Million to defray a US$19.5 Million judgment debt awarded against the GNPC, in favour of French Bank Societe Generale, by an English Court. US$900,000 of the amount was deposited into an escrow account to pay GNPC’s creditors and suppliers, while US$100,000 was used to pay legal services covering the sale transaction.
The remaining US$3.5 Million, which was deposited into an account of the Government of Ghana at the Ghana International Bank in London, on the orders of former acting High Commissioner, Chris Kpodo, still cannot be traced.
Already, former Energy Minister, Kan-Dapaah and his Deputy, K.T. Hammond, as well as, former GNPC CEOs Tsatsu Tsikata and Dr. Amos Ofori-Quaah, have appeared before the Commission over the matter.
Inside Ghana, however, insist Mr. Kufuor and two-time presidential candidate of the main opposition, New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo, have some questions to answer.
Mr. Agyekum told XYZ News his boss has no problem availing himself of the Commission’s probe, if invited, but noted that the sword must cut both ways, if the argument of Inside Ghana is to be taken seriously.
Spokesperson for Mr. Rawlings, Kofi Adams has rejected the suggestion saying Mr. Rawlings bought the ship and Mr. Kufuor must account for authorizing its controversial sale.