US$24 Million Dirty NPP Drillship Job

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Lands Kweku Baako In Ditch

The see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) owner of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, is gambling with his credibility in his desperate defense of those involved in the controversial sale of Discoverer 511, a drillship owned by Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), to a clear a debt.

In the latest twist to the ranging controversy, Mr. Kweku Baako, has produced two suspicious documents to support the claims of Messrs, Albert Kan-Dapaah and K.T Hammond that Societe Generale Bank was indeed, awarded a judgment debt by a UK High Court, contrary to claims by ex-GNPC boss, Dr. Amos Ofori Quaah, that he is unaware of a judgment debt.

The two documents said to be from lawyers of Societe Generale, Norton Rose; a purported Court Judgment and a cover letter attached to it, have some very suspicious features, with media reports suggesting they were faked, to save the skin of those involved in the US$24 million sale of drillship and claimed payment of US$19.5 million made to the French bank.

Firstly, the documents had different signatures on them, and were prepared by the solicitors of Societe Generale, not the UK High Court, which heard the case, and supposedly awarded the Judgment debt against GNPC.

The one purported to be the judgment, had Norton Rose written under a signature, also written is Norton Rose, but not the name signature of one “Mr. Justice Thomas”, who according to document presided over the case, 14 years, ago.

Meanwhile, Norton Rose, has been identified as the name of a lawy firm in the UK, but not a person or the name of a practicing lawyer in that firm.

The Herald checks revealed that Norton Rose Law firm was founded in London in 1794, meaning even if somebody by name Norton Rose existed, he or she died more than 400 hundred years ago, therefore, could not be signing documents as late as June 6, 2001, in the GNPC versus Societe Generale case.

The second document, according to Mr. Kweku Baako, is a cover letter written by Norton Rose and attached to the Judgment, but that also looked very doubtful as it had the initials “NR”, as a signature suggesting it was also signed by the said Norton Rose.

Another amazing thing about this particular document is that, it was sent to Bindman and Partners, lawyers of GNPC who had been sacked by Nana Akufo-Addo in his capacity as Minister of Justice and Attorney General, as of May 8, 2001, therefore, this law firm could not be receiving a document for and on behalf of GNPC dated June 6, 2001.

Additional checks by The Herald showed that Norton Rose Law firm is presently known as Norton Rose Fulbright, having merged with Fulbright & Jaworski LLP on Monday June 3, 2013, and has close to 3,800 lawyers.

Globally, Norton Rose Fulbright has offices in more than 50 cities across Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. In the United States, alone, it offers the largest legal practice in that country, with more than 750 lawyers in cities such as New York, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles and Washington DC.

Meanwhile, another claim by Mr. Baako that the US$3.5 million remainder of the US$24 million was paid to a government of Ghana account, is also turning to be hoax with Bank of Ghana, claiming all efforts made to locate documents on the account opened for the drillship cannot be traced on its files.

Mr. Paul Kwadwo Djang, Manager of Treasury Department of the Bank of Ghana, said he could not say for sure whether the 3.5 million dollars balance out of the 24 million dollars sale of the drillship was deposited in account number 0001191613 at the Ghana International Bank in London.

He told the Judgment Debt Commission last Monday that no documents relating to the transaction had yet been sighted and asked for three weeks to enable the Bank to search further for the necessary documents.

Mr. Justice Yaw Apau, Commissioner of the Judgment Debt Commission, said if any account was opened for the drillship, it should be after the sale which took place in April 2001.

Mr. Baako, has resorted to insults in the matter by calling people who questioned the authenticity of his documents as “weak minds”.

“Some are accusing me of being a PRO for the NPP; the question I often ask is that;…ain’t I entitled to make my position clear on issues of national importance whether between NDC, NPP? I don’t understand…” wondered Managing Editor of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Kweku Baako Jnr.

According to him, “the most important thing is to look at the issues being launched and the merits of the issue; that is better than this tagging and labeling which for me comes from weak minds or people who clearly know that they have lost the battle; then what they have to do is tag you, label you, character assassinate you and all the rest, but I have a thick skin so I can absorb those things”.

He has made statements contrary to the testimony given by Gilbert Hie, Managing Director of Societe General Bank-Ghana Limited at the Judgment debt commission when he appeared before it that his company has no records of the payment of $19.5 million as settlement of its dispute with GNPC in 2001.

He explained that by the French law, documents were required to be kept for a maximum of 10 years, beyond it the law did not require them to continue keeping the documents, and was therefore not surprised that the documents could not be found.

The New Crusading Guide newspaper last Tuesday also published the evidence of the payment order from Den norske Bank ASA, London Branch, which effected the payment of the $19.5m telegraphically to the New York account of SG on July 16, 2001.

However, according to Kweku Baako’s critics, the documents were fake. But speaking to the issue on Peace FM’s ‘Kokrokoo’, Kweku Baako insisted that the documents were official and true.

He said: “I won’t say I am perfect. I have made mistakes and I will continue to make mistakes as long as I am a human being but I insist on this core that the judgment (we published) was an official record from the high court of justice Queens’s bench division, commercial court UK and the stamps are even on it…Those who are talking of the mischief have a reason of making it so; quite a lot of it is red herring and it will dissipate into thin air…”

The Herald has landed a shocking document on the disposal of Discoverer 511 drillship. It revealed how Mr. Albert Kan-Dapaah, had two unsuccessful meetings with an official of Societe Generale, Nick Mends, Vice-President in-charge of Commodities based in the New York Office -America on August 4 and 5, 2001 in Accra, in an effort to have the debt settled, quietly.

The document, authored by ex-Energy Minister, Kan-Dapaah, on whose watch the drillship was sold, punched gaping holes in the claims of his then Deputy, K.T Hammond, on how, when and where the settlement transaction with Societe Generale Bank, was reached.

More shocking, is the suggestion by Mr. Kan-Daapah, in a memo dated August 5, 2001 that the government of Ghana paid the French bank, US$10 million contrary to the US$19.5 million that he, K.T Hammond and Kweku Baako, the Managing Editor of the New Crusading Guide, have maintained.

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