The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has in a report, indicted the management of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) over an acquisition of a residential property at Chapel Hill, a suburb of Takoradi in the Western Region for US$7.5 million.
It said that “there was non-compliance with the Procurement Laws of Ghana in that there was no public tender or bid”.
PIAC, in its report, particularly faulted the GNPC, Chief Executive, Kofi KoduahSarpong, saying he “acted in breach of the laws governing Conflict of Interest” in the US$7.5 million 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 property in question, belonged to Mr Sarpong’s former employers; Global Haulage, which shared ownership with the defunct Royal Bank, owned by the late Alhaji Iddrissu Adamu alias as Alhaji Global.
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.
The PIAC document is dated July 3, 2020. It was authored by its Legal Sub-Committee.
As of yesterday, The Herald, could not tell whether a soul from GNPC, had occupied the US$7.5 million property.
It is also 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 apart 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 the C.E.O. of GNPC, 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!