The Herald, has landed additional documentation on the US$7.5 million residential property acquired by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) at Chapel Hill, a suburb of Takoradi in the Western Region, which reveals that the Corporation’s boss paid for the building under what he described as an “unusual” circumstance.
Dr Kofi Koduah Sarpong, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GNPC, had in a memo dated December 29, 2017, same year he had taken over as the head of the state institution, wrote the memo authorizing payment for the dilapidated building, saying “I am taking this unusual step in view of the urgency of the matter”.
But an investigative report from the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has since faulted the GNPC Chief Executive, insisting he “acted in breach of the laws governing Conflict of Interest” in the US$7.5 million transaction.
Another portion of the CEO’s document addressed to the Chief Finance Officer copied the Manager Accounting and Reporting, Corporate Finance Manager and Audit Manager, revealed that critical documents were not cited at the time payment was effected to Global Haulage Company Limited.
Dr Sarpong, had strikingly indicated in his memo with “purchase of residential properties in Takoradi” as its subject matter that “the documents are in the custody of our Legal Officer Ms Ama Awuah-Kyeremanteng who unfortunately, is presently out of town to give them to support the payment”.
While many insiders, have described the US$7.5 million deal as strange, the PIAC report further indicted the GNPC management over the transaction, saying “there was non-compliance with the Procurement Laws of Ghana in that there was no public tender or bid”.
The said property belonged to Dr Sarpong’s last employers Global Haulage, who were also owners of the now defunct Royal Bank, where he served as Board Chairman, until Boakye Kyeremateng Agyarko, then acting as caretaker Energy Minister appointed him Acting CEO, although he had exceeded his mandatory retirement age of 60.
There are claims that some family members of the GNPC boss, including his son, were working with the owners of the Global Haulage and Royal Bank, at the time of this massive transaction described as the “Purchase of property consisting of six blocks of residential housing units with ancillary properties on plot #18 RAF Chapel Hill Takoradi”.
The CEO, had stated in the memo that “the Board of Directors at its meeting held on 11th November 2017 approved the purchase of Global Haulage Property at Chapel Hill in Takoradi for a sum of US$7.5m (Seven Million Five Hundred Thousand US Dollars).
“I can confirm that we have executed the underlying Sale and Purchase Agreement with the seller.
“The documents are in the custody of our Legal Officer Ms Ama Awuah-Kyeremanteng, who unfortunately, is presently out of town to give them to support the payment.
“I am by this memo authorizing you to effect the payment to Global Haulage Company Ltd, the vendor instantly as per their invoice attached.
“I am taking this unusual step in view of the urgency of the matter.
“Suffice it to note that a thorough post audit of the transaction can be done once full office work resumes on 8th January, 2018.
“I wish to indicate that I, the Chief Executive have taken full responsibility for this transaction.
Interestingly, when demands were made on the GNPC management by PIAC to provide“complete” information on the transaction, especially, set of minutes in respect of the transactions, it rather provided scanty and selective “extracts.”
The late Alhaji Iddrissu Adamu alias Alhaji Global, owned the property.
Pictures of the US$7.5 million structure seen by The Herald, show that GNPC is spending additional money to make it habitable. It is unclear, how much is being spent by the management of the state-own institution.
It’s also unclear, whether the Freddie Blay-led board had inspected the property ahead of the payment.
The PIAC document is dated July 3, 2020. It was authored by its Legal Sub-Committee.
As of last week Thursday, The Herald, could not tell whether a soul from GNPC, had occupied the US$7.5 million property.
It is again unclear, why PIAC since 2020, did not push for any punitive actions against the management of KK Sarpong, despite its insistence that the sale and purchase transaction, “was unlawful as it fell afoul of SS 14, 21, 35, 43, 47, 69 of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) as amended by the Public Procurement (Amendment) Act, 2016 (Act 914)”.
PIAC, is an independent statutory body mandated to promote transparency and accountability in the management of petroleum revenues in Ghana, and this report is an official confirmation of the rot happening under the KK Sarpong-led management at the GNPC, which unfortunately, the Akufo-Addo government, has been playing ostrich over.
The 5-page report was authored by the highly respected law lecturer, Prof. Albert Fiadjoe, the committee’s chairman, Noble Wadzah, Rev. Dr. Kwabena Opuni Frimpong, Nana Agyenim Boateng, Prof. Adom-Frimpong, Osei Kwadwo Boateng, Nasir Alfa Mohammed, Isaac Dwamena and Marilyn Aniw.
But shortly after the report, Prof. Figdjo’s term ended, but his successor Prof. Adom Frimpong, appears disinterested in the findings, although he had been a part of the earlier body which investigated the matter.
New PIAC members are; Clara Beeri Kasser-Tee, who replaced Professor Akosua Darkwah, as the representative of the Independent Policy Research Think Tanks and Odeefuo Amoakwa Buadu VIII, representing the National House of Chiefs, replacing Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II.
The members who were re-nominated are Professor Kwame Adom-Frimpong, representing the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana (ICAG), Nasir Alfa Mohammed of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) and Bashiru Abdul-Razak of the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI).
It had stated that, the matter of the GNPC’s purchase of a residential property on Chapel Hill in Takoradi for US$7.5 million was referred to the Legal Sub-Committee for its final report by the committee at a virtual meeting held on June 18, 2020, from the PIAC Secretariat.
This matter was originally referred to the Legal Sub-Committee by the Committee at its Emergency Meeting held on 31st August, 2018 at the PIAC Secretariat and a report subsequently submitted by the Sub-Committee to the Committee on the matter.
The present reference requires the Sub-Committee to consider whether in light of the Coordinator’s Validation Report held by PIAC and GNPC at the offices of GNPC on this matter, it was necessary to review the conclusions previously arrived at by the Sub-Committee on the matter to the Committee in Plenary.
It disclosed that a previous recommendations of the Legal Sub-Committee, dated 15th May 2019, had, after painstaking deliberations and consideration, submitted a report on the matter recommending the sale and purchase transaction was unlawful as it fell afoul of SS 14, 21, 35, 43, 47, 69 of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) as amended by the Public Procurement (Amendment) Act, 2016 (Act 914).
Also that “the CEO of GNPC acted in breach of the laws governing Conflict of Interest”.
Among the issues identified for consideration in the previous report were “whether or not there was the need for a value-for-money audit of the GNPC transaction? But the Sub-Committee on this, decided to refer this issue to the plenary for determination, since it was considered not to be a legal issue.
Another issue considered was “whether or not on the face of the transaction, there was a possible breach or breaches of the law? On this, the observations and findings were
that GNPC showed substantial non-compliance with the requests to provide the complete set of minutes in respect of the transactions, opting to provide scant and selective “extracts”, adding, “there was non-compliance with the Procurement Laws of Ghana in that there was no public.tender or bid”.
Other parts of the report said that although “the CEO of GNPC is said to have recused himself from the discussion of this transaction. It is only a complete set of minutes provided that will be able to buttress this claim, which GNPC has failed to provide”.
However, “the said recusal notwithstanding, the CEO took “…full responsibility for this transaction” to order payment at a time when there was no evidence of necessity, urgency or other competitive bid in the offing. If indeed the CEO had recused himself, he should not have involved himself in the process”.
Validation Meeting between PIAC and GNPC
It said that “after about a year from the date the Legal Sub-Committee submitted its report on this matter to the Committee, the Committee in Plenary resolved at a meeting on 18th June, 2020 to seek final responses from GNPC to the conclusions the Legal Sub-Committee recommended to the Committee per a report dated 15th May, 2019”.
It explained that “this was to enable the Committee bring finality to this matter.
Consequently, a delegation of the Committee led by the Chairman, Mr Noble Wadjah (With him, Nasir Alfa Mohammed) accompanied by the Coordinator of PIAC Secretariat, Madam Marilyn Aniwa (with Mr Isaac Dwamena) met with senior officers of GNPC led by the C.E.O., Dr. Kofi Kodua Sarpong (with him Dr. Kwame Baah-Nuako and Dr. Patrick Kwaku Ofori) on Wednesday 17th June, 2020 at the GNPC Office on Mankattah Street, Airport, Accra”.
The Chair, Mr Noble Wadzah, reiterated the conclusions of the Legal Sub-Committee, to which Dr Kofi Kodua Sarpong responded, emphasizing that he did not share the conclusions arrived at by PIAC, saying he cannot be held liable because the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) does not cover the purchase of real estate, hence felt GNPC, had not flouted any provision of the Act.
Additionally, Dr Sarpong, sought to blame the Freddie Blay board saying, since “he recused himself and the Board of Directors approved the transaction. As spending officer, he had to carry out the decision of the Board as the principles of corporate governance require. This explains why he authorised payment for the property”.
Dr Sarpong told Mr Noble Wadjah committee that “….he had to take responsibility for the payment at that time because the vendor (his former employers) was putting pressure on GNPC and the lawyer in charge of the transaction was not available”.
He also added that “a pre-audit was not carried out before payment was effected. However, a post audit was carried out on the transaction afterward. The post audit report could be made available to PIAC, if PIAC so wishes”.
Dr Sarpong, had claimed that “renovation works on the property have been completed but is yet to be handed over to the Corporation. The full Board minutes will be made available to PIAC on Thursday 18th June to enable PIAC review its conclusions”.
More to come!