The mystery surrounding the sale of the drill ship belonging to the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC) and the disbursement of the money from that sale has deepened, as the Bank of Ghana (BoG) cannot tell whether or not an account into which the money is said to have been paid exists.
A manager at the Treasury Department of the BoG, Mr Paul Kwadwo Djan, told the Judgement Debt Commission at its sitting in Accra yesterday that the bank was making efforts to trace the Ghana International Bank account number 0001191613.
Appearing before the commission after his outfit had been subpoenaed to produce documents and answer questions pertaining to the sale of the drill ship in 2001, Mr Djan informed the commission that the Treasury Department of the BoG had made “frantic efforts” to trace documents relating to the account.
He, accordingly, prayed the commission for time to do “further search” and additionally indicated that he was aware of a letter signed by a former Minister of State, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, requesting for $250,000 to be transferred into the account.
A letter dated July 30, 2003 and signed by the former minister was to pay Aquatic Engineering and Construction Limited for the maintenance of a GNPC vessel in Angola.
However, the witness told the commission after a question by counsel for the commission, Mr Dometi Kofi Sokpor, that “we are trying to locate documents relating to transfers but up till now we have not located any document”.
“I cannot say for sure if the account exists. As I speak, we have not been able to locate the account number,” Mr Djan added.
Answering a question from the Chairman of the commission, Mr Justice Yaw Apau, on who owned the Ghana International Bank, the witness said the bank was owned by the Government of Ghana
Following from the witness’ request to the commission for more time to locate documents pertaining to the sale of the drill ship, the commission gave the BoG up to November 25, 2013 to produce more documents.
Sale of drill ship
The GNPC is said to have sold its drill ship, the Discoverer 511, in July, 2001, to pay judgement debt awarded in favour of Societe Generale by a UK court.
But evidence emerging from the Judgement Debt Commission suggests that the GNPC does not have the transaction records of the sale ordered by the Ministry of Energy, while the BoG does not have records of any cash transfer before and after the sale of the drill ship.
Judgement against Ghana Armed Forces
A Chief State Attorney, Ms Dorothy Afriyie Ansah, and the Chief Director of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), Mr Emmanuel Nii Yartey Tackie-Yarboi, appeared before the commission to answer questions pertaining to the circumstances under which a judgement debt of GH˘26,700 was awarded against the GAF.
It emerged that a High Court in Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region had awarded judgement of GH˘26,700 in favour of Kwasi Adjei, Lydia Takyiwaa and Alex Opoku, after a KIA truck being driven by a soldier caused injury to the three.
Ms Afriyie said a police report, which was accepted by the court, presided over by Mr Justice Francis Amoah, had held that the driver of the military vehicle had been at fault and, accordingly, awarded compensation.
It, however, emerged, after questions from the Chairman of the commission that officials from the Attorney-General’s office stationed in Sunyani did not defend the matter but rather wrote to the A-G’s office in Accra requesting for payment for the victims.
Judgement was delivered by the court in favour of the plaintiffs on March 16, 2006.
For his part, Mr Tackie-Yarboi, accompanied by Colonel Edward Fiawuo, who is stationed at the Judge Advocate General’s Office, told the commission that a board of enquiry was set up to investigate the accident and it emerged that both drivers had been at fault.
He said it was recommended that compensation be paid to the victims of the accident but indicated that his outfit had not been aware of any court order directing the Ministry of Defence to pay the victims.
Mr Justice Apau, a Court of Appeal judge, commended the military for being meticulous in setting up a board of enquiry to investigate the matter.
Withholding tax for $2.5 million not paid
Another revelation at the commission was the non-payment of withholding tax for the award and payment of $2.5 million to New World Investment (NWI), a private company.
The Director in charge of External Resource Mobilisation at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP), Mr Kwadwo Awuah Peasah, told the commission that the withholding tax on the amount paid to the company had not been deducted following an explanation from his colleague on the issue.
Responding to Mr Peasah’s statement, Mr Justice Apau said the explanation from Mr Peasah’s colleague on the issue of the deduction was not sound.
Giving a brief background to the transaction, Mr Justice Apau said NWI had loaned GH˘1 million to the Ghana National Procurement Agency (GNPA), out of which GH˘550,000 had been paid, leaving a balance of GHC450,000.
However, the balance shot up to $2.5 million within a couple of years and after a number of questions from the commission, Mr Peasah said NWI was expected to pay the withholding tax and further disclosed that MoFEP had, since February, 2011, been deducting withholding taxes on such transactions.
He said the commission would find out from the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) what could be done to retrieve the withholding tax.
Documents on spare parts not located
Another witness to appear before the commission was the Director of the Internal Audit Unit of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Mr Eric Osei Afriyie, who told the commission that efforts to retrieve documents covering the supply of spare parts to the ministry in 1997, had not been successful.
According to him, the ministry had managed to contact some retired staff who had worked on those documents to enable him and his team to locate files on the transaction.
Mr Sokpor suggested to the witness that his outfit’s record-keeping system was faulty, to which Mr Afriyie answered, “We need a proper name and file number to get the documents.”
Mr Afriyie was given up to November 25, 2013 to retrieve the said records.
Hearing continues today (October 29, 2013).
Source: Daily Graphic
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