A former Ghana High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), Mr Chris Kpodo, Wednesday confirmed that he received and lodged a cheque for $3.5 million out of the proceeds from the sale of the GNPC drill ship into a Ghana International Bank account in London.
He, however, indicated that he had no knowledge how the $3.5 million was disbursed.
According to him, he had no knowledge that the money was used to pay the salaries of staff of the Ghana High Commission in the UK.
Mr Kpodo was responding to a question from the Sole Commissioner as to whether the money had been used to pay salaries, as was speculated.
“After paying the draft into a Ghana International Bank (GIB) account as instructed by the then Minister of Finance, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, I reported back to the minister but no response came till now,” he stated.
The Sole Commissioner, Mr Justice Yaw Appau, turned his radar on Mr Kpodo, who was expected to help the commission unravel the mystery surrounding the $3.5 million paid out of the $24 million purchase price of the drill ship, the Discoverer 511, to the Government of Ghana (GoG).
At the commission’s sitting yesterday, however, Mr Kpodo, a retired career diplomat, stated that he was only instructed by Mr Osafo-Maafo to lodge the Barclays Bank draft, with serial number 01953801 and received from Mr Hammond, into a GIB account in the UK.
Ambassador Kpodo had documentation to prove that the account was duly credited with the $3.5 million.
He indicated that the GIB account was held in trust by the Treasury of the Ghana High Commission and that only Mr Osafo-Maafo could at that time authorise disbursement of its funds.
Ambassador Kpodo’s role
Mr Kpodo described his role in the drill ship saga as minimal, as he was neither part of the negotiations nor privy to the contents in the agreement documentation.
According to him, he only received a telephone call from the then Attorney-General, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who instructed him to witness Mr Hammond’s signature on the deal.
“All I did, therefore, was to witness Mr Hammond’s signature,” he stressed, and described his witnessing of the signing as “a little bit bizarre”.
Explaining further, he said he had earlier sent a representative from the Ghana High Commission in the UK to witness the signing, since he had another engagement, but the representative was refused participation and so eventually he (Kpodo) had to personally witness the signing, “even though the details of the agreement were not made available to me”.
Obviously, Mr Kpodo could not deliver the coup de grace to uncover the whereabouts of the $3.5 million, although he provided insights which might spur the commission on to further investigate the whereabouts of Ghana’s reasonable benefit from the sale of the drill ship.
Sale of the drill ship
The government had sold the Discoverer 511 in 2001 for $24 million to settle a default judgement of $19.5 million awarded to Societe Generale (SG) by a court in London.
The judgement debt was in respect of a failed agreement which was signed between the GNPC and SG in the 1990s.
The GNPC, on the advice of SG, under the agreement, had entered into some derivative transactions but they resulted in a debt to SG and in 1999 the multinational French bank sued the GNPC in a London High Court, claiming $40 million.
However, after selling off the Discoverer 511 to pay off the debt of $19.5 million and paying off creditors of the corporation and legal fees in respect of the London court case, the whereabouts of the balance of $3.5 million have remained a mystery that the Judgement Debt Commission is seeking to unravel.
Personalties in the drill ship saga:
Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, then Minister for Energy.
Mr. K. T. Hammond, a former Deputy Minister of Energy.
Mr Chris Kpodo, a former Ambassador to the UK.
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, then Attorney-General.
Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, then Minister of Finance.
Source: Daily Graphic
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