Two ministers of Energy in the Kufuor administration say the sale of a Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) drill ship in 2001 had been a prudent decision taken by the government to rescue the ailing corporation from financial distress.
“I am convinced, as I sit here, that there was no single bad decision taken in that matter,” a former Minister of Energy, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, told the Judgement Debt Commission in Accra yesterday.
His deputy, Mr K. T. Hammond, who also appeared before the commission, said: “My Lord, we did everything humanly possible to ensure that this thing was done in the best interest of the country.” The two former ministers could not, however, tell the commission the whereabouts of the $3.5 million from the sale meant to be paid into government chest.
Whereas Mr Kan-Dapaah requested the commission to direct that question to the Controller and Accountant-General (CAG), since he/she was responsible for signing government cheques, Mr Hammond dropped a document which he claimed contained clues to the money.
Mr Kan-Dapaah had presented a written statement and some attached documents to the commission, detailing the circumstances leading to the sale of the GNPC drill ship and other related matters. He said when the Kufuor administration took office in 2001, the GNPC was in financial distress and so the Cabinet had considered the possibility of declaring the corporation bankrupt. But some consultants advised against that option.
Mr Kan-Dapaah said subsequently, the government set up a committee, headed by Prof Stephen Adei (then of GIMPA) to assess the viability of the GNPC and it recommended the sale of the corporation’s marine assets because they were not viable.
He said having discussed the Societe Generale (SG) and the GNPC case in a London court, the Cabinet decided not to pursue the case after SG had secured a judgement debt of $47 million and a precautionary arrest of GNPC’s Discoverer 511 in Oman.
According to Mr Kan-Dapaah, there was nothing the government could do under the circumstances, especially when it did not have money, and so it decided to seek a settlement outside court, hence the mission of Mr Hammond to London to pursue that option.
K. T. Hammond
When Mr Hammond took his turn, he also tendered in a large number of documents to buttress his submissions.
Asked why he did not go to London with the GNPC counsel, Mr Hammond said it was because the corporation had not been able to manage its affairs “and so why should we go with them”?
He said after the transaction, he was instructed to give the cheque for the $3.5 million to Mr Kpodo, to which the acting High Commissioner issued a receipt.
The two former ministers had protested to the commission against some media publications that suggested that they had gone to see the Sole Commissioner to beg for leniency. Their testimonies were characterised by humour, but Mr Hammond suddenly changed the mood when, during the closing stages of his submission, he became emotionally charged.
“My name has been dragged in the mud; my family, my mother is dying because they don’t believe me. They say I’ve stolen $3.5 million,” he screamed in a tearful voice. But Mr Justice Apau asked the Member of Parliament (MP) for Adansi Asokwa to take heart and explain to his mother that as a politician, he was likely to face such challenges and so she should not die.
Security and live telecast
Unlike previous sittings of the commission, yesterday’s sitting was telecast live on Ghana Television for the first time. Again, for the first time, there was heavy police presence on the premises of the Old Parliament House. Those developments were in connection with the high-profile nature of the witnesses involved – Mr Kan-Dapaah and Mr Hammond.
Source: Daily Graphic