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General News of Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Source: The Al-Hajj

Drill Ship cost $30m - NPP kingpin reveals

Akin to the case of the never-ending Isofoton judgment debt maze where a self-professed member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. Mathew Addai emerged from nowhere to warn leading members of the Kufuor administration to “shut up” over the issue or risk being exposed badly, another kingpin of the NPP has again surfaced, rendering account of very revealing and horrific things covering the sale of Ghana’s Drill Ship, Discoverer 511.

A clearly irritated “crowd puller” in the NPP, who seemed familiar with the sale of the GNPC Drill Ship during the ex-president Kufuor era but whose identity we will shield for now, has petitioned the Judgment Debt Commissioner for an in camera hearing to tell all he knows concerning the sale.

In the petition, which at press time yesterday was on its way to the offices of the Sole Commissioner and sighted by The Al-Hajj, the petitioner who appeared short-changed in the Drill Ship deal, says he cannot fathom why senior members of his party, particularly the former deputy Energy Minister, Mr. K T Hammond continue to be economical with the truth concerning how much the Drill Ship was sold for.

According Mr K.T. Hammond, the Drill Ship was sold for $24m and that $19.5m out of the amount was paid Societe General as judgment debt.

He is, among other things, praying the Commission to get to inquire why the Deputy Minister of Energy went to represent GNPC in the so-called compromise settlement and not the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice at the time, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo or his Deputy, Ms Gloria Akuffo.

The petitioner said, just as what Dr. Amos Quaah told the sole judgment debt commissioner, there is no document on the transactions in respect of the sale of the Drill Ship and that there was also no court ruling from the UK requesting the Government of Ghana to pay any amount to Societe General.

The NPP top brass added “As for Dr. Quaah, I can bear him out, because most of the things were done in secrecy so he can’t tell how much the ship was sold and how the proceeds was used…I’m highly convinced that the way K T Hammond has gone mumu after raving and ranting when the issue first broke, he will for once spill the beans when he appears before your commission but if he fails, then they will incur my wrath and the way I will go about it, I don’t care if it crumbles the entire party”.

According to the NPP whistleblower in-waiting, “When K T Hammond was making all those ugly noises, did he provide any material document like Sale and Purchase Agreement covering the auction to confirm the price paid for the Drill Ship? Also, did he provide any legal document entered into with Societe General as the 'compromised' and final settled agreement with Government of Ghana? This alone should tell you there is more to the story.”

Snippets of information gathered by The Al-Hajj as facts available to the peeved NPP guru, courtesy a close source to him is that, Societe Generale was on the verge of agreeing to a $12 million deal as compensation proposed by officials from Attorney General’s office put together by Nana Akufo-Addo when his office took over the matter from the original GNPC lawyers in early 2001, however, for unexplained reasons the negotiation was deferred to a UK law firm which Hon K.T Hammond was said to have worked for prior to his appointment as deputy minister.

Societe Generale, according to the source, was under pressure to accept the offer from the team assembled by Akufo-Addo because, having already lost two suits to GNPC in America on the same matter, and apprehensive of a possible third lost in the UK following a fierce legal challenge by the GNPC lawyers, they were said to be prepared to make do with the $12m offer from Ghana, but for strange reasons this process was truncated which eventually led to the purported payment of $19.5m to Societe Generale.

In a reenactment of the Vodafone sale deal under the Kufuor government, the source revealed how three companies were willing to buy the Drill Ship at $30m but for very mysterious reasons the Ministry of Energy at the time said it sold the ship for $24m, adding “isn’t this interesting, how can you have companies willing to buy a ship at $30m and you bypass them to sell it to a company that offered $24m?”

The sale of Ghana’s Drill Ship, Discoverer 511, which was sold under the Kufuor administration, gained media attention when it was put on the radar of the Sole Commissioner, Justice Appau, who has been tasked by President Mahama to investigate all judgment debts paid by the state to individuals and companies since 1992.

Since the matter broke up, the chief architect in the sale in 2001, Mr. K T Hammond has been explaining how much the ship was sold and how the money was disbursed, all at the blind side of the operators of the ship, the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, but in recent times when officials linked to the deal have started giving interesting accounts, he has gone into hiding.

Mr. Hammond explained, and indeed, a letter dated October 24, 2001 and signed by the then Minister of Energy, Mr. Albert Kan Dapaah stated that the ship was sold for US$24m and 19.5m dollars used to defray the debt owed Societe Generale, while $1m was used to settle legal fees and other creditors and the balance of $3.5m paid into the Bank of Ghana (BoG) account.

Dr. Quaah said apart from the October 24, 2001letter, he never sighted any other letter on the transactions in respect of the sale of the ship, stating “I also never sighted any court ruling from the UK asking the Government of Ghana to pay any amount to Societe Generale.”

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