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Dirty dossier out on US$24 million GNPC drillship sale

Source: The Herald
The coming days are going to be very interesting as the Judgement Debt Commission struggles to unravel the true story behind the sale of oil drillship, Discoverer 511, owned by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and whether or not the John Kufuor government paid Societe Generale USS19.5 million from the US$24 million purchase price.

Sources at the Commission have revealed that a damning dossier has landed on the tables of investigators working with the Sole Commissioner, Justice Yaw Appau, for a thorough scrutiny.

These dossier come from the UK-based lawyers, Bindman and Partners, and addressed to the then Attorney- General and Minister of Justice, Nana Akufo-Addo, which he failed to act upon.

Bindman and Partners, who had been engaged by GNPC to fight the law suit filed in a UK High Court by Societce Generale on its behalf, is said to have written to Nana Addo in May 2001, revealing that the case against the GNPC was winnable.

It is also said to have disclosed how the respected law firm had filed a counter claim against Societe Generale, and warned Ghana about how a lack of legal representation was going to cost Ghana, greatly. But as it turned out, Nana Addo did not heed.

The Herald is also informed that apart from the documents received by the Commission, bank accounts from which some monies were authorized by Dr. Anthony Osei Akoto and withdrawn have been identified.

Cabinet memos, dating back to the Kufuor era directing the sale of none-core equipments, owned by the GNPC including the Discoverer 511 have been discovered.
Also available to the Commission are files from the GNPC on the Discoverer 511, which is now christened Noble Discoverer, by the Royal Dutch Shell.

These document and materials, The Herald has learnt, are being studied by the investigators ahead of subpoenas to Messrs, Albert Kan- Dapaah, Nana Akufo-Addo and K.T. Hammond to appear and testify on the matter, including the whereabouts of the US$3.5 million, the leftover from the US$24 million purchase price.

Meanwhile, K.T. Hammond, who claimed he was given a power of Attorney by Nana Addo in 2001 to sell the drillship to defray a US$19.5 million judgement debt has left Ghana, and is said to be in the UK.

Before he left, he had stormed the Old Parliament House building in Accra, demanding to be heard on his involvement in the settlement of the Judgment debt, but was told by a certain Mr. Sorkpor that the Commission was going to summon him when the time is right.

The Managing Director of the Societe Generale Bank in Ghana, Gilbert Hie, also left town a day after his appearance at the Commission. He is believed to have been summoned by his bosses at the bank’s headquarters in France over his strange testimony at the Judgement Debt Commission that the bank has no document on the 19.5 million judgement debt.

More questions continue to hang in the air begging for answers from the embattled longest serving Deputy Energy Minister, in the controversial sale of GNPC drillship, under John Kufuor-led administration.

Mr. K.T Hammond, who was Kufuor’s special “eye and nose” at the Energy Ministry has hopped from one radio station to another in an attempt to clear himself from any wrongdoing, but more questions are emerging by the day, including a possible conflict of interest situation in the US$24 million drillship sale.

Among the questions are how he single handedly negotiated the sale of the drill ship, using law chamber that he (KT Hammond) once practiced as a lawyer in London, before becoming a Deputy Energy Minister.

Mr. K.T Hammond is said to have paid his former work place, a whooping US$1 million from the US$24 million, when the drillship was bought.

The period with which they were paid the said amount is very significant, as it is unclear what their job description was and the agreed fees, especially when the Deputy Minister had insisted he was only given a mandate to sell the drillship and pay off Societe Generale.

This was done after the sacking of lawyers from Bindman and Partners, based also in the UK, who the GNPC had engaged and paid more than £500,000 to represent it in a UK High Court, on the orders of Nana Akufo-Addo, the then Attorney-General and Justice Minister.

Mr. K.T. Hammond had created an escrow account in a bank (name yet to be mentioned) from where he is believed to have made several payments, including that of his preferred law firm, where he had once worked.

It is unclear whether the law firm submitted an invoice over the service it provided during the engagement, entitling them to the mouth-watering US$ 1 million.

It is also believed that he paid the controversial US$3.5 million to Government of Ghana (GoG), from the same escrow account he had created. It is unclear who the signatories to that escrow account are.

It is also unclear whether the US$3.5 million was indeed paid from that escrow account at all, since there is confusion as to who or which institution Mr. K.T. Hammond paid the money to. The Finance Ministry, Bank of Ghana (BoG) and ex-President Kufuor have at various times been mentioned as recipients of the cash.

It is still unclear whether the ship was properly valued before the hasty sell.

Additional reports available to The Herald has it that a certain company, whose workers happened to be the Special Assistance to the then substantive Minister of Energy, Albert Kan-Dapaah, was also paid unspecified amount after submitting signed invoices to the Ministry.

Mr. K.T Hammond, in one of his interviews expressively confirmed to have received the Power of Attorney from the then Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Nana Akufo-Addo, to sell the State’s property.

The Public Relations Officer of the Commission, George William Dove in a press release said, Attorney General / Solicitor General, Ghana National Procurement Agency (GNPA) and Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), have been invited today to appear before the Commission to assist its work.

Also invited are Ministry of Lands, Forestry & Natural Resources, Ministry of Trade & Industry, and Ministry of Works & Housing.

“Members of the public who wish to testify or volunteer information are first to report at the Commission’s office to give their statements. The Commission will then schedule a date for them to give evidence. All those who intend to testify or volunteer information to the Commission, but are unable to be present in person are requested to submit memoranda to the Commission.

All such memoranda will be treated ^confidentially,” Mr. Dove, said.