Kweku Baako Caught With US$24m Missing GNPC Documents

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The Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) missing dossier on the US$24 million plus transaction sale of its drill ship Discoverer 511 has been cited in the custody of the Editor-in-Chief of The New Crusading Guide newspaper, Kweku Baako Jnr.

It is unclear how Mr. Baako got the official documents, especially when GNPC, Ministry of Energy, Bank of Ghana (BoG) and the Attorney-General’s Department have all told the Judgment Debt Commission, chaired by Justice Yaw Appau, that the documents cannot be traced from their individual files.

Samuel Ablakwa Okudzeto, sometime last year, indicated that officials of the Kufuor government obliterated some official records and took away files, including documents on the disbursement of HIPC funds. The discovery of these files in the hands of Mr. Baako, who is obviously in the good books of officials of the previous government, is very revealing.

He made the revelation last Saturday on Joy FM’s news analysis programme, Newsfile. Interestingly, the GNPC boss, Nana Boakye Asafo-Adjeye, will appear before the Judgment Debt Commission today, where he is expected to repeat that GNPC cannot trace the files on the US$24 million plus transaction.

Mr. Baako boastfully mentioned signatories, quoted dates and names, including Credit Swiss, Tsatsu Tsikata and the French company, Societe Generale, and insisted the sale of the drill ship was tabled by the Rawlings regime and completed by the Kufuor government.

He as usual cleared officials of the Kufuor government from any dirty deal during the transaction, but blamed Tsatsu Tsikata’s “poor judgement” as the cause of the judgement debt.

It is also unclear whether the Commission, would want to invite Mr. Baako to help with investigation into the sale of the drill ship to settle a huge judgment debt, which slipped from US$20 million dollars to US$12 million but leaped to US$47 million, according to Albert Kan-Dapaah, the first Energy Minister in the Kufuor government at an August 2001 press conference.

Mr., Baako, refused to disclose where and how he got the document when he was asked by the host of the Newsfile Programme, Samson Lardi Ayenini, where he got them especially when the Judgment Debts Commission was struggling to locate them.

But the Managing Editor of The New Crusading Guide flippantly brushed off the host, saying the documents are within government circles, adding that even a transition report has made mention of the sale of the drill ship.

The Herald’s independent investigations has revealed that a Norwegian drilling company, Frontier purchased the drillship Discoverer 511 from GNPC between 29 June and 16 July 2001. After the takeover, the Norwegians renamed the Drill Ship, Frontier Discoverer and sent it to operate in South East Asia and Oceania.

Meanwhile, a Deputy Minister of Energy, under the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) administration, K.T. Hammond has stated that the sale of the GNPC Drill Ship was as a result of the “financial incompetence of Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata’s GNPC at the time.”

According to him, “the sale was to compromise a suit that had been taken against GNPC and the government of Ghana by a company called Societe Generale.”

His comments come in the wake of a press release issued by the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, which revealed that the Drill Ship belonging to the GNPC was sold on July 17, 2001.

The then GNPC Chief Executive, Tsatsu Tsikata, entered into some derivative transactions in the 1990s between GNPC and Societe Generale in the early 1990s.

But in 1999, the Societe Generale sued GNPC in a London court to recover the debt owed it by the state-owned oil company resulting from the transaction.

Recently, the Chief Executive of GNPC, Mr. Asafo-Adjeye and the Chief Manager with the Banking Department of the BoG, Mr. Paul Mensah-Ashun, who were subpoenaed by the Sole Commissioner over the sale of the ship, could not produce the documents covering the transaction.

Responding to the press release from the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, K.T. Hammond on Eyewitness News with Richard Dela Sky explained that “Mr. Tsikata had involved himself and GNPC in some hedging transactions” which was unnecessary. He spoke on Citi FM.

According to him, Mr. Tsikata gambled with Societe Generale over a report that said Ghana had gas and oil on the shores of Tano South although “we did not have it and this led to a debt to the tune of $47 million.”

He revealed that in the process, the D511 was collateralised and when the matter came up in court, Societe Generale applied to the UK court for the ship to be detained.

Mr. K.T. Hammond disclosed that he, therefore, travelled to the UK to deal with the lawsuit, adding that in the end it was agreed upon that the matter “could be compromised and settled out of court.”

“The good news is that in the course of the settlement … in our case, for $47 million, we managed to settle it for $19.5 million,” he said.

Therefore in a bid to pay the settlement of $19.5 million, the ship that had been detained was sold at $24million which according to him “we (Ghanaians) got more than value for money.”

He confirmed that $19.5 million out of the $24million was paid to Societe Generale.

“I, K.T. Hammond came to this country (Ghana) with a cheque for $3.5 million payable to the Government of Ghana which was later presented to the Ministry of Finance to be paid into government consolidated fund, as part of proceeds because about close to $1 million had to be used to settle the other indebtedness of this same GNPC,” he intimated.

He also expressed shock that officials from the Ministry of Energy claim the ministry does not have any documents to that effect, adding that GNPC should have the documents.

“Richard I can’t believe that this file is not there at the Ministry of Energy,” he stated.

Mr. K.T. Hammond, confirmed writing a letter to the Commission of Inquiry in order to appear before them in a bid to clear the air.

Meanwhile, the Head of Communications at the Ministry of Energy & Petroleum, Edward Bawa said the date that was given in the press release, was the only available information that the Ministry of Energy has, based on the documents that were handed over to them.

In his explanation, the press release was to indicate to the general public that although there is an issue that is currently being investigated by the Commission of Inquiry, “the case occurred in 2001.”

“It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Energy to state clearly the time frame from which this transaction took place,” he said.

He said, “if you look at the judgement that finally resulted in the amount of money Ghana needed to pay to Societe Generale as claimed by the press statement that was read by Hon. Kan Dapaah in 2001, that particular judgement, the Ministry of Energy has not sighted it, GNPC has not sighted it, the only clue we do know was basically based on the date of sale of that particular state property, was found in the press statement that was read by Hon. Kan-Dapaah.”

He added that the press statement also indicated that “government had directed a Deputy Energy Minister to go to London and sell that particular ship and that the ship was sold on July 17, 2001.”

He further stated that their knowledge on the transaction was based on the documents in their possession.

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