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General News of Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Source: citifmonline.com

Gov’t failure caused judgement debt – Tony Lithur

Private legal practitioner Tony Lithur has blamed government for causing the payment of over $4 million as judgment debt to a Cocoa Processing Company, Calf Cocoa International Ghana Limited.

According to him, the finance ministry’s failure to release an undisbursed amount of $1.8 million under a subsidiary Loan Agreement to the company for its cocoa processing business contributed to the payment.

He said this at a Wednesday sitting of the commission investigating past Judgment debt payments in Ghana.

‘My Lord, the state would have saved $2,350,127.50 if the finance ministry had not acted contrary to the Loan Agreement signed between Ghana and the Chinese Government.

Tony Lithur who was lawyer for the Calf Cocoa International told the Chairman of the Commission, Justice Yaw Apau, that the Government of China, through the export Import Bank (EXIM Bank) in October 1998 , agreed to give the Government of Ghana an interest-subsisided concessionary loan for the purpose of financing industrial projects in the country through joint ventures between Ghanaian and Chinese companies in identified areas of interest.

The astute lawyer who defended President Mahama in the landmark election petition in 2013 said per the agreement, Ghana through the Bank and Exim Bank acting on behalf of China carried out what was termed ‘the General Loan Agreement’ in November 26,1996.

My Lord,‘the company required about $8.7million to set up a cocoa processing factory and as of 2003 the factory had been established, and needed the $1.8million due it to buy the cocoa beans for its operations’.

He added that the ministry of finance was reluctant to release the money even after several meetings and several letters written to them.

The finance ministry rather suggested at the time to Calf Cocoa International to enter into a sales contract with the Ghana Cocoa Marketing Board for the supply of the Cocoa beans which was clearly not part of the agreement, he stated.

Tony Lithur again said “this led to suit we filed against the government because at the time the machines in the factory were in pretty bad shape so we (Calf Cocoa International) had incurred loses.”

A commercial court at the High court presided over by Justice Madam Insaidoo on March 5, 2008 ordered that the state (Ghana) to pay an amount of $4,150,127.50 to my client( Calf Cocoa International) which included the principal amount due my client and all the losses the company incurred.

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