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General News of Thursday, 19 November 2015


KT Hammond accuses gov't of witch-hunting

Government has directed the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) to investigate former deputy Energy Minister for his role in the sale of a drill ship to pay off a judgment debt.

The recommendation is contained in a government White Paper on the judgment debt report prepared by the Judgment Debt Commission.

Government wants Kobina Tahir Hammond to explain how he disbursed about $900,000 balance resulting from the sale of the ship.

Judgment Debt Commission report on GNPC Drillship saga

The report chronicles the circumstances surrounding the sale of the ship and how the resulting $3.5million balance was allegedly mismanaged.

The Adansi Asokwa MP K. T. Hammond was in 2001, sent by President J.A. Kufuor to Paris and London to amicably resolve the US$47 million default judgment debt with Societe Generale.

K.T Hammond was responsible for convincing the Company to accept the US$14 million out-of-court settlement instead of insisting on the US$47 million judgment debt.

To raise the money, K.T Hammond was authorized to sell a GNPC asset.
The Acting Managing Director of the GNPC, Dr. Ofori Quaah, was not given room to operate.

He was coerced into signing a Power of Attorney prepared at the Attorney-General’s Office to empower Hon. K. T. Hammond to sell the GNPC’s marine asset, the Drillship, ‘Discoverer 511’.

Hon. K.T. Hammond sold the Drillship for US$24 million, used US$19.5 million to pay off the debt.

He also gave US$1 million to Constant & Constant, the London solicitors who had represented Ghana in the Drillship sale negotiations.

Out of this amount, the London solicitors were to take US$100,000 for their services and keep the balance of US$900,000.00 to cater for the future debts of GNPC to other creditors.

KT Hammond handed over the remaining US$3.5 million to Ghana’s High Commission in London.

The Judgment Debt report condemned KT Hammond for keeping GNPC out of the know on the $3.5 million part proceeds of the sale of a GNPC property.
On how the balance of US$3.5 million was utilized, the Commission made the following findings and observations:

i.The cheque for the amount was paid into an account that was opened with the Ghana International Bank in London by the Treasury Office of the Controller and Accountant-General’s Department in London.

ii.US$1.657 million out of the amount was used to defray alleged debts owed by the GNPC.

iii.US$169,548.25 was used to pay monthly salaries of staff not properly described in October 2003 and March 2004.

iv.US$141,361.29 was transferred into a different account with the same Bank. The utilization of the transferred money remains a mystery to date.

v.The outstanding balance of US$1,532,090.46 is unaccounted for to date.
vi.The two accounts were closed in December 2005.

vii.There was no justification for paying the amount of US$3.5 million into a new account because as the proceeds were from the sale of a GNPC asset, it belonged to the GNPC and should have been paid into GNPC’s account.

Records on the sale of the Drillship ‘Discoverer 511’ disappeared from the offices of the Attorney-General’s Department and the Ministry of Energy only for Hon. K.

.K.T. Hammond to present to the Commission a sealed envelope which he claimed contained the alleged relevant documents; his explanation being that a ‘Good Samaritan’ who he never identified left it in his pigeon hole in Parliament House.

ix.The Commission’s conclusion is that: “The totality of these developments raises strong suspicions that the whole transaction involving the sale of the Drillship ‘Discoverer 511’ is shrouded in mystery”.

The White paper has therefore directed "EOCO to investigate the mandate, authority and/or basis of Hon. K.T. Hammond’s disbursement of the US$900,000.00 to the Law Firm ‘Constant and Constant’ to cater for future debts of GNPC to other creditors”.

But in response, KT Hammond has accused government of refusing to confront the principal actors at GNPC leading to the $47million judgment debt awarded to Societe Generale.

He said former CEO of GNPC Tsatsu Tsikata was responsible for creating this huge debt which the NPP government managed to slash $14million.

“This whole messy issue is because of Tsikata”, a fired-up KT Hammond told Joy News Wednesday.

He accused the Judgment Debt Commission of “having a cup of tea” with Tsatsu Tsikata suggesting the Commission treated the former CEO softly when he testified before the commission.