Nana Akufo-Addo
Nana Akufo-Addo

The incompetent handling by Nana Akufo Addo-the former Attorney General of the Republic of Ghana of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) drill ship saga and French bank Societe Generale (SG) has been exposed by the Judgment Debt Commission headed by Justice Yaw Apau through its findings and recommendations to the government.

Nana Akufo-Addo
Nana Akufo-Addo

The Republic newspaper can confirm that government has extensively studied the findings of the judgment debt commission and is bent on implementing its recommendations of sanctioning former public officials like Akufo Addo and others who played a huge role in Ghana losing about US$19 million in the GNPC/ Societe Generale drill ship tussle.

On Wednesday, Attorney General and Minister of Justice Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, in a press conference at the Attorney Generals’s department confirmed that a government White Paper on the judgment debt commission has been completed and waiting implementation.

The Commission presented its report to the President John Dramani Mahama on May 20, 2015 after it concluded its extended inquiry.

According to the Attorney General, the Commission found it as a fact that “the huge judgment debts paid between 2009 and 2011 were not debts contracted by Government of the day within those years. Majority of them were debts that had been outstanding for several years but which previous governments took no steps to resolve. The said debts had therefore accumulated interest to unimaginable levels.”

There are several cases involving shady judgment payments that points to the inactions of then Attorney General Akufo Addo, the flagbearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP). He is particularly liable for causing financial loss to the state drill ship saga that spanned from the late 1990s to 2006.

Akufo Addo was said to have muddied a pending judgment debt lawsuit between Societe General and the GNPC in a London Court when the deal went sour after GNPC had contracted Societe General in a hedging transaction when Ghana was prospecting the rich Tano crude oil fields off the Western coast of Ghana.

According to the judgment debt commission, Akufo Addo’s “miserable” failure to defend Ghana in the pending case resulted in Ghana paying a US$19million with the whereabouts of over US$3.5 million of the money still untraceable.

In the report presented to the Presidency, the commission outlined the sequence of events where in 1996 under the then National Democratic Congress (NDC) government headed by Jerry John Rawlings, the GNPC entered into a contract involving derivatives or hedging with the SG, a French commodities bank.

A dispute was said to have arisen from the deal where SG sued GNPC in a London High Court over payments that SG alleged GNPC owed it. GNPC denied the claim and counter-claimed against SG through its external lawyers, Bindman & Partners, saying SG had given it negligent advice in the hedging transaction.

The tussle was still ongoing and discussions for out-of-court settlements were being held when the NPP government assumed power in 2001.

Strangely, without recourse to the processes underway, Ghana’s then Attorney General, Akufo Addo ordered for the services of GNPC’s external lawyers to be dispensed with, in a bid to handle the case himself.

“ The Attorney-General, Hon. Nana Akufo Addo, failed to make any appearance in the London High Court after dispensing with the GNPC’s external lawyers, Bindman & Partners. At the time this happened, the Government of Ghana, represented by the Ministry of Energy, had wrongfully taken over the running of the affairs of the GNPC,” the commission stated in its report.

“Nana Akufo Addo, failed to bring to the attention of the London High Court, the settlement attempts. It was this failure that led to the entry of the US$47 million default judgment against GNPC. It was this failure that made it possible for SG to demand more than the US$14 million dollars that they had earlier on agreed to accept as final settlement of the suit. The payment of US$19.5m instead of US$14 million earlier on agreed constituted financial loss to the Corporation and Ghana,” the report said, adding that it was Governmental interference in the running of the affairs of the GNPC accounted to a large extent for that financial loss.

Meanwhile, the Ghana Government, through the advice of Akufo Addo, ordered the then Deputy Minister of Energy, Hon. K. T. Hammond to resumed the settlement talks with SG.

However, the Government neither appeared to defend SG’s action in the London High Court nor informed the Court about the out-of-court settlement attempts.

The failure of the Attorney General to represent Ghana in the London court, forced the court to enter a default judgment against the GNPC to the tune of a whopping US$47 million in June 2001.

At the time of the default judgment, SG had accepted a final out-of-court settlement of US$14 million from the Ghana Government.

Hon. K. T. Hammond was sent by President J. A. Kufuor to Paris and London to amicably resolve the US$47 million default judgment debt with SG by convincing the Company to accept the US$14 million out-of-court settlement instead of insisting on the US$47 million judgment debt.

To defray the debt, the Government of Ghana decided to sell one of GNPC’s marine assets-the Drillship ‘Discoverer 511’. According to the commission of inquiry, at the time the drill ship was disposed off, it was “a going, profit-making concern.”

This paper gathered that the then Acting Managing Director of GNPC, Dr. Ofori Quaah, was made to sign a Power of Attorney for and on behalf of GNPC (in the Office of the Attorney-General) empowering Hon. K. T. Hammond to sell the Drillship ‘Discoverer 511’ while in London and use the proceeds to pay off the debt owed by GNPC.

Mr. K. T. Hammond sold the Drillship for US$24 million, used US$19.5 million to pay off the debt, and gave US$1 million to the London solicitors who had represented Ghana in the Drillship sale negotiations, Constant & Constant, out of which they 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.

Afterwards, K.T Hammond is said to have handed over the remaining US$3.5 million to Ghana’s High Commissioner in London.

The drill ship saga is just one of several controversial and costly decisions that Akufo Addo has been entangled in during his tenure as Attorney General, some of these decisions have resulted in huge judgment debt against the Ghanaian government.

A lot of these debts are still being contested in various courts.

Source: The Republic

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.