General News of Monday, 28 October 2013
Source: The Herald
A new Public Relations (PR) job taken on by the Editor-In-Chief of the New Crusading Guide, Kweku Baako, over the controversial sale of Discoverer 511, belonging to state-owned Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) for and on behalf of his political friends who single-handedly sold the drillship, continue to fall flat.
Documents available to The Herald show that Mr. Baako has been selective in justifying the US$24m GNPC drillship sale; one of the major decisions taken by the John Kufuor government, whose elements especially K.T. Hammond, has given very contradictory accounts on the transaction, dating as far back as, July 2001.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Newsfile programme last Saturday, Mr. Baako, in his characteristic “all-things-NPP-good” mood, spiritedly defended the drillship sale and insisted there was nothing untoward about the transaction.
What he did not know was that, there are volumes of documents from the UK-based Law Firm Bindman and Partners, showing how negligent Nana Addo was in the transaction, refusing to act in having the legal matter resolved.
In one of the documents dated May 7, 2001 from the law firm, showed how the lawyers made frantic efforts to get Nana Addo to defend the case. They wrote several letters, including one written on May 2, 2001, which Nana Addo refused to respond to.
Another letter written on May 7, 2001 also revealed how telephone calls to Nana Addo was rather received by his Special Assistant yet the instructions, the lawyers were demanding were never given.
Mr. Baako had singled out the defeated New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential candidate in the 2012 elections, as ready to storm Judgment Debts Commission to clear doubts surrounding the controversial sale of the GNPC drillship.
Nana Akufo-Addo, who was the Attorney General and Minister of Justice during the sale of the $24 million drill ship, has been indicted by some critics for his role in the transaction.
Mr. Baako said Nana Addo who is currently cooling off outside Ghana, will appear before the Judgment Debt Commission if invited, to clear the air on the transaction.
According to him, Nana Addo told him he is ready to lead the Commission to unravel the mystery behind the sale of the ship.
Kweku Baako Jnr said, contrary to claims that the NPP government dabbled in financial malfeasance and pocketed some $3.5 million from the sale of the drill ship, it was clear from the facts available to him that the Kufuor administration rather rescued the Corporation from the mess it had been entangled in by the NDC.
He said way back in 1998-1999, the Tsatsu Tsikata-led GNPC had incurred a debt of $47 million in a transaction with Societe Generale and was in court with the French Bank over the debt.
As part of the transaction, Baako indicated that Tsikata had agreed to sell the drillship to offset the debt incurred in the transaction.
When the Kufuor government assumed power in 2001, it was faced with the near collapse of the Corporation and needed to take measures to salvage it.
An ex-GNPC boss, Amos Ofori Quaah, had told the Judgment Debt Commission that he was not privy to any judgment debt document filed by Societe General, neither was he party to any of the transactions in the sale of the drillship.
But on Newsfile last Saturday, Kweku Baako quoted copiously a UK High Court document dated June 6, 2001, in which GNPC was said to be indebted to Societe Generale to the tune of $40 million with an additional interest.
He also quoted a July 9, 2001 document in which the Discoverer 511 drillship was under precautionary arrest in Oman as a result of the wrangling between GNPC and Societe Generale.
Faced with these challenges, the Kufuor government had to take steps to arrest the situation.
He said K.T. Hammond who was then a deputy Minister of Energy was tasked to resolve the impasse between the GNPC and Societe Generale, to save the country from incurring further cost. He was given the Power of Attorney to act for and on behalf of GNPC to clear the mess created.
Baako insisted this move was a political decision which can be defended any day.
K.T. Hammond, he further explained, then negotiated with Societe Generale and managed to beat down the debt of $47 million to $19.5 million.
Baako said, the government went ahead to sell the drillship which was competently valued and sold at a cost of $24 million.
The Crusading Guide newspaper editor, again quoted a July 16, 2001 payment order, which “irrevocably and unconditionally” directed the payment of $19.5 million to Societe Generale, which were monies accrued from the sale of the drillship.
Mr Baako again quoted a document, a cheque which was an order of the government of Ghana for 3.5m dollars to be transferred from the Ghana International Bank- UK, into the government of Ghana account in New York. That account is available and can be audited, he stressed.
It is, therefore, not true for anybody to suggest that K.T. Hammond after paying the 19.5 million dollars misappropriated the remaining amount left from the sale of the drillship, he concluded.
A member of the NDC, Abraham Amaliba, who was a panel on the show, said the whole transaction “stinks to the core.”
He demanded to know how the money that was accrued from the sale of the drill ship was expended.
He said, the GNPC has no record on the payment of the judgment debt as a result of the sale of the drill ship and questioned why K.T. Hammond gave contradictory accounts after the sale of the ship.
Amaliba said by law, GNPC can operate on sound commercial lines and has a foreign account into which monies accrued from foreign transactions would be paid.
He wondered why the GNPC was not allowed to lead the negotiations.
Meanwhile, there are many begging for answers from K.T. Hammond, who had said on radio that he went to sell it. But such transactions are covered by Sale and Purchase Agreements and many are asking where is the agreement and how can it be confirmed that US$24 million is the full proceeds from the sale of the rig.
Also, K.T Hammond had said that he went with a Power of Attorney and Resolution from GNPC, but the Corporation did not have a Board at the time of the sale in July 2001 and therefore there could not have been a Resolution from GNPC.
Nana Boakye Asafu-Adjaye, the immediate past GNPC CEO, told the Commission when he appeared that the Board was appointed in September, 2001. Another ex-CEO at the time Dr. Amos Ofori Quaah, could not on his own have given a Power of Attorney. It takes the Board to do that by a resolution.
GNPC’s lawyers, Bindman and Partners according to GNPC’s Nana Asafu-Adjaye, when he appeared before the Judgment Debt Commission, were asked to back off the case and hand it over to the Attorney General.
Also being asked is why did Nana Addo or his deputy fail to represent the GNPC in the case?
Dr. Ofori Quaah who was the GNPC CEO at the time of the sale told the Commission last Wednesday, that when he asked K.T Hammond for documents on his return, his response was that he had not sent him anywhere.
He said, he never sighted any judgments, settlement, or documents covering the sale.