Story from peacefmonline.com
It has emerged that former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Tsatsu Tsikata, had admitted that the state-owned oil company was indebted to the multinational French bank, Societe Generale to the tune of $40 million as far back as 1998.
Mr Tsikata was said to have stated in a document that GNPC was owing SG bank $40million excluding interest.
The debt also accrued interest of $7million, raising the total debt to $47million, which the GNPC drill ship was sold to defray.
Editor-In-Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper, Abdul-Malik Kweku Baako Jnr, who made the revelation on Metro TV’s newspaper analysis programme, ‘Good Morning Ghana’ yesterday, explained that the $40million debt accrued interest of $7 million, totalling $47 million, which the Kufuor Administration was saddled with in 2001.
Another former GNPC CEO, Dr. Amos Ofori Quaah confirmed on Wednesday at the ongoing investigations into payment of huge judgment debts and compensations to institutions and individuals that it was the $47 million that the Kufuor Administration drastically reduced to $19.5million through negotiations with Societe Generale.
Mr. Baako, who was on the Metro TV programme with a Deputy Information and Media Relations Minister, Felix Kwakye Ofosu, as co-panellists, said Tsatsu Tsikata had, in a correspondence in December 1998, informed the GNPC board about the corporation’s huge indebtedness to the multinational SG bank.
The mounting evidence is emerging following protracted controversy of the sale of GNPC’s oil drill ship in July 2001 for $24million, out of which $19.5million was used to settle the corporation’s indebtedness to Societe Generale.
Societe Generale had sued GNPC in a London court following a hedging contract signed in the 1990s, as a result of which the state-owned oil corporation got indebted to the bank.
The hedging was carried out by Tsatsu Tsikata when he was the CEO of the corporation.
Mr. Baako said as a result of the court action, Societe Generale had obtained an injunction to detain the drill ship and sell it at $20million to recover its debt.
However, the Kufuor Administration was able to sell the ship at $24million, far above the initial amount anticipated.
The New Crusading Guide boss also disagreed with the judgment debt commissioner, Justice Yaw Apau that the Kufuor Administration erred in selling the ship without recourse to GNPC’s board.
The Sole Commissioner last Wednesday blamed the Kufuor Administration for what he described as interference in the affairs of GNPC, as the government action was in contravention of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation Law, 1983 (PNDCL 64), which established the state-owned oil corporation.
Buttressing his point, the Court of Appeal judge quoted section 8 (1) which states that “the Board of Directors shall, subject to the provisions of this law, have general control of the management, property, business and funds of the corporation and any affairs thereof.”
He said the law was explicitly clear that it was only the GNPC’s Board that should okay the sale of the ship, questioning why the government had failed to establish the Board but only ran to the corporation when it needed a power of attorney to sell the ship.
However, Mr. Baako disagreed with the judge, pointing out that the same GNPC law empowered the secretary (minister) with oversight responsibility to take decisions on behalf of the corporation if the board was not in place.
Also supporting his argument, Mr. Baako quoted section 8 (f) of the GNPC Law, which states that “subject to such guidelines and directives as the Secretary may issue, act as conciliator or appoint arbitrators in the settlement of disputes or claims affecting the Corporation and, in general, take any appropriate action of a legal nature for safeguarding the corporation’s interests.”
The secretary in this case, Mr. Baako pointed out, was the Minister for Energy and the law had given him the power to act on behalf of the corporation in the absence of the board.
Commenting on the issue, Deputy Information Minister and Media Relations, Felix Kwakye Ofosu insisted the Kufuor Administration hurriedly sold the drill ship to spite the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration and GNPC officials like Tsatsu Tsikata.
He said there was the need for the Kufuor administration to produce enough documentation on the deal to conclusively settle the matter.
Kobby Acheampong Wades In
Meanwhile, the newly appointed boss of the embattled Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), Kobby Acheampong has said the 2012 Presidential Candidate of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has to answer for the “murkiness surrounding the sale of the drill ship.”
The former deputy Interior minister, who suggested the ongoing probe into the drill ship saga be made a criminal case, told radio XYZ yesterday that “…I have done my checks and I know that a lot of the documentation pertaining to this drillship was presented to the then Attorney General, Nana Akufo-Addo. I know that for a fact.
“These are critical things, I mean, we keep going in winding circles in this country when simple questions can be asked for people to provide simple answers…and then we can make a head way. This is a serious matter,” Acheampong said.
He entreated the Judgment Debt Commissioner to invite Nana Akufo-Addo to provide documents on the ship, adding that “he should know where the documents” covering the transaction of the drillship are.
“That is something that has to be done if we want to make critical headway. We are making a head way but some of these things can be uncovered easily when certain key personalities are asked very succinct questions,” Mr. Acheampong said, forgetting that KT Hammond, former deputy Minister of Energy who led the transaction was ready to speak.