General News of Tuesday, 17 July 2012
Source: The Herald
Attempts by the Managing Editor of The New Crusading Guide to disentangle the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Ex-President John Kufuor and his men from the raging judgment debt saga, has left a gaping hole in his credibility.
Mr. Kweku Baako’s claim that the Mills administration paid private investigators a whopping US$520, 000.00 to probe the Messrs Isofoton S.A. case, has turned out to be a blatant lie, as documents (pictured) in the custody of The Herald from the Finance Ministry reveals the government rather paid US$130,000.00 and not US$520, 000.00 as claimed on Joy FM, Peace FM, Multi TV and Metro TV by him.
Meanwhile, suspicions are rife that the Solicitor General, Ama Gaise at the Ministry of Justice is behind the leakage of volumes of documents to the opposition NPP to prosecute its “Judgment Debt Campaign” for the 2012 election.
Mr. Baako, is believed to have received some of these documents which he has been brandishing about in his spirited defense of Kufuor’s men, whose abuse of office and vindictiveness as in the case of Mrs. Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, led to a ¢50 billion judgment debt payment for an 8-year seizure of a US$1.8 million state guaranteed loan to Calf Cocoa International.
The Managing Editor of The New Crusading Guide, last week on various media platforms claimed that the government paid US$130,000.00 each for four copies of an investigative report on the Messrs Isofoton S.A case conducted by the Professional Group.
But a three-page document in the possession of this paper, from the Finance Ministry, signed by various officials at that ministry, including a Deputy Minister of Finance, Fifi Kwetey, the Director of Budget, Simeon Patrick Kyei, D.O.E. Aryeetey, and K. Awua-Peasah has revealed that Mr. Baako was not factual about the cost of the investigation.
The Deputy Minister of Finance’s one-page document dated May 5, 2011 instructed the Controller and Accountant General “to release the sum US$130,000.00 to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to enable him pay consultancy fee to the Professional Group in respect of a service rendered on the contract between the Government of Ghana and M/S Isofoton S.A. of Spain”.
Mr. Kwetey’s letter converted the US$130,000.00 at an exchange rate of ¢1.5029 to US$1.00 hence paid a cedi equivalent of GH¢195,377.00 …and asked that “the expenditure be charged to the Contingency Service Vote in the 2011 Annual Estimate” as per an “attached MOFEP’s Reallocation Warrant No. SPW/MOJ/QTR.2/2011/SER/01”.
The Deputy Finance Minister’s letter also directed the Head, Banking Department of the Bank of Ghana to make the requisite foreign exchange, exclusive of bank charges, available to the Minister of Justice.
The documents signed by the Director of Budget, Simeon Patrick Kyei and D.O.E. Aryeetey, K. Awua-Peasah and titled “Re-Allocation Specific Warrant” confirmed Mr. Kwetey’s letter authorizing the GH¢195,377.00 payment to Minister of Justice for onward delivery to the Professional Group. Their signatures were dated May 17 and 19, 2011.
Further searches conducted by this paper at the Attorney General’s Department revealed that the investigation carried out by the Professional Group was to ascertain whether or not a binding contract existed between the Government of Ghana and Messrs Isofoton S.A of Spain.
Professional Group is made up of Messrs Stan Norman, Ebenezer Manful, Albert Ocansey, Felix Agbeve and Charles Noi. The group is into advising on Finance, Investment, Taxation and also Business Consultancy and Due Diligence.
Meanwhile, another claim by Mr. Baako, that he personally knows members of the Professional Group, has also turned out to be a lie.
Two members of the group Messrs Norman and Manful whose names were mentioned on Joy FM, last Saturday have denied ever meeting Mr. Baako, in a phone call placed to them by The Herald.
They confirmed receiving GH¢195,377.00 being the cedi equivalent of US$130,000.00 charged for the investigation. They, however, refused to disclose their findings as contained in their report submitted to the Minister of Justice.
When reached last Saturday, Mr. Kwetey told The Herald via phone he could not immediately recall signing the letter as he signs many documents in a day. He, confirmed, however, the names of Simeon Patrick Kyei, D.O.E. Aryeetey, and K. Awua-Peasah as his colleagues at the Finance Ministry.
Mr. Forson Anane-Agyei, a top member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the Local Representative of ISOFOTON SA, last week said the company would have been $4million richer with a judgment debt, but for the Mills administration going into negotiations with the company, leading to a $1.3 million, settlement.
The judgment debt is said to have arisen from the erstwhile NPP government’s unlawful abrogation of a contract with ISOFOTON. The situation has been blamed on the then Chief of Staff, Kwadwo Mpiani, who was very powerful in the Kufuor administration much to the annoyance of ministers who served in that government.
An Accra High Court, in a garnishee order issued on May 2, this year, froze the Agriculture Ministry’s Engineering Department’s Accounts for the default in the payment of the outstanding US$1.3 million judgment debt owed the Spanish firm.
The Kufuor-led administration, through the Agriculture and Energy Ministries, entered into a contract with ISOFOTON on September 22, 2005 for the supply and installation of solar powered water pumping irrigation systems and solar electrification project in remote areas of the country under the second Ghana-Spanish Financial Protocol.
But for some unknown reasons, the then Chief of Staff, Kwadwo Mpiani, abrogated the irrigation and solar electrification contracts in March 2006, and proceeded then to award the contract to other Spanish firms, Incatema Indema and Elecnor respectively.
Not enthused by the turn of events, ISOFOTON consequently sued the government in January 2007, and won a judgment debt of 1.3million United States dollars.
Although initial amount of about US$400,000 was paid by the government in 2010, the company is pursuing a contempt suit against the state for delayed payment of the remaining amount, after securing a garnishee order to have the accounts of the Agric Engineering Department attached. More to come!