Sale Of Drill Ship Was Unwarranted — Tsatsu

Mr-Tsatsu-TsikataThe former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, has described the circumstances under which the drill ship was sold to defray a purported judgement debt of $24 million as “unwarranted”.

He said that there was neither a judgement nor a judgement debt against the state to be paid at the time of his tenure of office as the boss of the corporation which ended in 2000.

He again debunked various claims made by Messrs Albert Kan-Dapaah and Kwabena Tahir Hammond, former Minister and Deputy Minister of Energy that GNPC was in financial distress at the time the New Patriotic Party (NPP) assumed power in 2001, hence the intervention of the government to restructure the corporation, stressing that GNPC was an asset than a liability.

He said that GNPC had some assets at its disposal which could have been sold to liquidate its indebtedness to Societe Generale and not necessarily the drill ship.

Mr Tsikata mentioned WESTEL, a communication company, as one of the corporation’s (GNPC) viable assets which the NPP sold at $120 million far and above the $24million the duo (Kan-Dapaah and K.T. Hammond) collected for selling the drill ship.

He said that the alacrity with which the vessel was disposed of, should be condemned because those (Kan-Dapaah and K.T. Hammond) who facilitated the sale of the property had no basic knowledge, not  to talk of their technical expertise on marine assets, to have sold the drill ship below a reasonable price.

“My Lord, the best value of the drill ship cannot be determined by somebody who has no technical knowledge and the bizarre circumstances under which it was sold can only be understood by the perpetrators themselves,” he said.

He admitted that GNPC owed SG an amount of $40million but the claim was being contested at the London High Court by Bindman and Partners, lawyers of GNPC who Mr. K.T. Hammond said were only human rights lawyers but not experts in marine operations, but this assertion was also rubbished by the former CEO.

Mr Tsikata said that as soon as the NPP came into office, he met the Minister of Energy, Mr Kan-Dapaah, stating how far the case had travelled at the court in London and the need for the ministry to fight it to the logical conclusion, since there were brighter prospects for the corporation to win the case against SG.

He said that Nana Akufo-Addo, who had then been appointed the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, was interested in getting a brief from him (Tsikata) on the case pending in a London high court which he obliged.

Mr. Tsikata maintained that in his brief, he told the AG (Nana Addo) that the lawyers of GNPC (Bindman and Partners) had insisted on recovering some documents and tape recordings from SG which were necessary in respect of the case but his information was disregarded and the drill ship was sold.

When asked by the Sole Commissioner, Mr Justice Yaw Apau, whether he was running “a one-man show” as a CEO at GNPC, Mr. Tsikata denied the claim and said that he ran a very transparent administration, adding that he was satisfied in working with talented personalities, for the 12 years he was the chief executive and said that he was willing and open for people to cross-examine him on the evidence he had given to the commission.

Mr Kofi Dometi Sokpor, lead counsel for the commission, also asked the former CEO whether GNPC had foreign exchange accounts, to which Mr Tsikata answered in the affirmative and said that they (accounts) were opened on the approval and supervision of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and wondered why the proceeds of the drill ship could not be paid into any of them but rather into a new foreign exchange account at the Ghana International Bank in London.

The “Discoverer 511” was sold in 2001, at $24 million to defray a judgement debt of $19.5 million to Societe Generale but the balance of $3.5million from the proceeds could not be traced and this has generated controversy in the country.

Madam Grace Adzroe, Controller and Accountant General, who appeared before the commission some weeks ago, said that the drill ship account number 0001191613 opened at GIB in July 26, 2001, was closed in December 2005 with the balance of one thousand and eight pounds (£1,008) now transferred into a new account number 0001191610 at the same bank in London. By Castro Zangina-Tong

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