US$197 Million Turf War At Finance Ministry

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Seth Terkper Plants Story Against Mona Quartey

There is a massive turf war inside the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning , between Seth K. Terkper and Mona Helen Kabuki Quartey, minister and deputy minister, respectively, over a Judgment Debt settlement to the owners of Bankswitch; a company created and given a cooked Document Management System, under the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS).

Revelations of the frosty relationship between the two individuals over US$197 million judgment debt owed Bankswitch, made its way into the media last Wednesday, but in a one-sided manner, and insiders at the Finance Ministry, have traced the publications in the two newspaper; “The Enquirer” and “The Informer” to Mr. Terkper.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, awarded damages amounting to US$197 million judgment debt to Bankswitch Ghana.
Accra-based lawyer, Ace Ankomah, served as lawyer for the private company in the case, with ex-Minister of State at the Finance Ministry in the erstwhile New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, as key witness.

The Herald’s attempts to speak with Mrs. Mona Quartey, did not yield any fruitful result, but sources close to her told the paper that she was only negotiating a good deal to save the country from paying US$197 million judgment debt, by having Bankswitch pay itself through rendering service to the State.

This paper learnt that, instead of dolling out the cash of US$197 million to the private company, it was decided that Bankswitch Ghana Limited, deploy its services to execute the work it was initially contracted by the Kufuor government to do and use the proceeds to pay itself.

The Deputy Finance Minister, did not answer phone calls when The Herald tried to reach her. She, however, in response to a text message asked The Herald to reach her today on the issue.

The Enquirer and The Informer newspapers, on Wednesday suggested that Mrs. Mona Quartey, was usurping the role of her boss, Seth Terkper by committing the government to a settlement agreement with Bankswitch Ghana Limited; something the late President J.E.A. Mills and then Vice-President, John Dramani Mahama, had distanced themselves from.

The Kufour administration through the instrumentality of then Minister of Finance, the late Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, the then head of the Revenue Agencies Board, Harry Owusu, Former Minister of State at the Finance Ministry, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei and others, entered into what insiders describe as a bad deal with Bankswitch, taking up aspects of legitimate duties of CEPS.

The Kufour administration also made arrangement per the contract to start paying a whopping GH¢600, 000 monthly future earnings to Bankswitch Ghana Limited, even ahead of operations. Indeed, it was said that several thousands of dollars were doled out to the IT Company for no work done.

In 2009, the issue with Bankswitch was looked into after the NPP lost power to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the contract abrogated by the new government, forcing the company to go to court and judgment awarded in its favour.

Discussion has been going on for the settlement of the Judgment Debt, before Mona Quartey was appointed as Deputy Minister of Finance to deputize Seth Terkper.

The Enquirer and The Informer, reported that for reasons best known to her, Mona Quartey wrote to Bankswitch, spelling out how government intends to pay the company.

The Enquirer, which claimed to have gleaned a copy of the said letter, quoted the letter as saying “Mrs. Quartey prepared a scheduled payment plan to Bankswitch,” adding that the letter, was “written immediately she took office”.

It went on, “she committed Ghana to dole out over GH500 million to Bankswitch as first payment”.

The paper said “what insiders at the ministry of finance find shocking is the fact that the deputy minister wrote the said letter on behalf of the substantive minister, Mr. Seth Terkper. It is, however, emerging that the deputy minister took a unilateral decision”.

“The ‘Enquirer’’s checks at the finance ministry revealed that the deputy minister, never discussed the issue with management before writing to Bankswitch”, the paper revealed and added that it has “gathered from the corridors of the ministry that there is deep-seated anger among the huge players over the deputy minister’s action”.

More to come!

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