General News of Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Source: The New Statesman Newspaper

Prez Mahama works against Ghana

While President John Mahama and his ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government have been eager and generous in effecting the payment of ‘dubious’ judgment debts to undeserving individuals and groups, the contrary has been the case when they have to show commitment to the interest of the nation and retrieve what have been genuinely awarded in favour of the country.

A case in point, according to the Centre for National Affairs, is the one involving the nation and GUSTAV FW HAMESTER GmbH & CO KG who took Ghana to an international arbitrations court “in the hope of duping our government of some one hundred and forty million Euros in what they alleged to be breaches of a Bilateral International Treaty (BIT) and Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) by the Republic of Ghana in September, 2007 under the previous administration.”

Addressing a press conference yesterday to expose the scandal, Rocky Obeng, Senior Policy Analyst at CAN, disclosed that his group had approached the presidency with the case which had been won at an International arbitration (Centre for the settlement of Investment Disputes-ICSID) ‘against a group of fraudsters who owned GUSTAV FW HAMESTER GmbH & CO KG.”

This was the result of the strong defence mounted by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice in the Kufuor administration against the claims of GUSTAV FW HAMESTER GmbH & CO KG in September 2007, ignoring their earlier request for an out-of-court settlement.

“Later, The ICSID delivered its ruling on the matter in favour of the Republic of Ghana (defendant) in 2010. Mrs Betty Mould Iddrisu who happened to be the Attorney-General at the time of the Court’s ruling was required to provide the court with invoices and receipts to enable the court enforce the counter-claim amount of almost three million pounds filed by Hon. Joe Ghartey and Hon. Ambrose Dery in favour of Ghana. Interestingly, no such documents were submitted by Mrs Betty Mould Iddrisu,” Rocky Obeng lamented.

In view of this disturbing development, and following the September 4, 2012 challenge from President Mahama to civil society group to assist his administration recover monies paid out through fraudulent judgment debts, CAN wrote to the presidency to intervene to retrieve the money for the nation.

But, the group is worried about the fact that even though “our government has shown a lot of commitments when it comes to paying judgment debts to people who win cases against the Republic of Ghana…Sadly, government officials have shown no or little interest in going after judgment debts awarded in favour of the republic of Ghana.”

According to CAN, official letters from the presidency sighted at the office of the Economic and Organised Crime Office had advised EOCO to work with them “in such a manner that this particular judgment debt issue does not find space within the media for discussions until the 7th December general elections are held.

“The attitude and the process adopted by the leadership of EOCO on this particular issue has at best been attempts to frustrate, undermine and thwart all the efforts of the Centre for National Affairs at assisting the current administration retrieve the millions of dollars in this particular case,” Mr Obeng lamented.

He added: “Mr President, The Centre for National Affairs is worried over this development. It is worried because it has authentic documents that conatin favourable court ruling for judgment debts within the range of seventy million US dollars that must be paid to our government by companies operating in the country and have not been given to the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO).”

The case above, according to CAN, is not the only case where the government of Ghana has won a judgment debt and its appointees have refused to seek its execution for monies due the people of Ghana to be paid.

“Admittedly, we at the center (CAN) have had enough of the frustration and manipulation. We feel scandalized that His Excellency, President John D. Mahama would for the purposes of the 7th December general elections instruct the Economic and Organised Crime Office to frustrate an anti-corruption civil society organization such as ours,” Rocky Obeng bemoaned the president’s attitude.