SG debt: Ghana’s GNPC, Energy Ministry fail to provide documents

Ghana fans cheer their team during their African Nations Cup Group B soccer match against Mali at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabet29 August 2013, Accra – Two Ghanaian government institutions failed to provide the necessary documentation pertaining to judgment debts paid to Societe Generale, SG, a French Bank, in 2001, and the liquidation of the Drilling ship (Discovery 511), when their representatives appeared, Wednesday before the judgment debt committee.

The Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, GNPC, and the Chief Director of Ministry of Energy, told the judgment debt committee, presided over by Justice Yaw Appau, an Appeal court judge, that they were pressed with time and needed more time to enable them put together the documents that would aid the committee.

GNPC CEO, Nana Boakye Asafu Adjayi, told the commission that the Corporation, upon an advice from SG, undertook a derivative transaction of hedging transaction and management of price risk in the early 1990’s, where SG provided GNPC a credit line and control, which were acceptable in respect of the Tano oil field.

However, in 1999, SG sued GNPC in a London court to recover debt owed to them, but GNPC contested against the claim of SG’s claim on the grounds that GNPC incurred the loss, due to bad advice to the Corporation.

According to him, somewhere along the line, the Attorney General (AG) took over the case and sidelined the GNPC legal team.

Nana Asafu Adjaye told the committee that the AG had requested for all documents, in respect of the transactions between the two establishments, but due to pressure from the AG’s office, his outfit could not photocopy the documents but had to transfer all the originals to them, without leaving even a copy behind.

He indicated further that the whole issue about the judgment debt paid to SG was news to him, until he received the subpoena from the committee. The only document that was available was the letter authorizing GNPC to sell the Drilling Ship known as the Discovery 511 and subsequently pay SG an amount of USD$195M.

Nana Asafu Adjaye observed that all the transactions took place when Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata was the CEO of GNPC, so he was not aware of it, but requested the commission to be given some time to cross check if he could get some documents on the issue.

However, it came to the notice of the commission during their enquiries that judgment debt was entered against GNPC by the London Court, but it was not clear the total amount paid to SG.

The commission, therefore, realized through documents made available to it that payments to SG were done in three installment of USD$47M, USD$ 20M and USD$12M, but yet to discover who received the monies.

According to the Lead counsel of the commission, Mr. Dometi Kofi Sorkpor, it was due to those conflicting figures that the commission was set to reveal the actual judgment debt paid to SG.
On the other hand, the Chief Director of Ministry of Energy, Mr. Thomas Mba Akabzaa,, who was subpoenaed by the commission in respect of the SG case, indicated he was aware of the transactions but due to insufficient time he could not gather the necessary documents.

He also made it clear that until the subpoena was served on him, he was not aware of the judgment debt, but was optimistic by the next adjourned date he would be able to supply the commission with the necessary documents.

AG’s department sent in a letter to the commission to be given some more time to enable them locates the files to the transactions.

Meanwhile, the Sole Commissioner, Justice Yaw Appau, in his remarks noted that it was astonishing how a whole organisation like GNPC could transfer very important documents to the AG’S office without keeping a copy of the documents.

– The Chronicle

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