DRAMA UNFOLDED in Parliament yesterday as the Minister for Energy, Dr. Joe Oteng Adjei was quizzed over payment of some colossal amount of oil money to a company partly owned by Tsatsu Tsikata, a former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Petroleum Company (GNPC).
Hon. K. T. Hammond, Member of Parliament (MP) for Adansi-Asokwa, asked Dr. Adjei whether MODEC had paid some money to Strategic Oil and Gas Resources (SOG) Limited, an offshore British Virgin Island Company in which Mr. Tsikata is said to have acquired a 50 percent shareholding.
Answering the question, the Energy Minister failed to give a direct answer on the payment, dragging the issue back and forth between him and K.T. Hammond for almost an hour. Speaker Justice Joyce Bamford-Addo had to step in to save the Minister after realizing that members of the minority group in parliament were asking more probing questions and subjecting him to diligent scrutiny.
Mr. Tsikata’s company was alleged to have initially received $2 million from MODEC, with an additional $3million to be paid at the extraction of first oil from the Jubilee Field. Showing his disappointment over Dr. Adjei’s failure to give a definitive answer, Mr. Hammond said the minister should tell Ghanaians if SOG was actually paid $5 million and for services rendered to MODEC.
According to the minister, Strategic and Gas Resources Company is a privately owned Ghanaian company and therefore could be sub-contracted by MODEC for any contract, adding that once “the award of the contract was not illegal, payment of money will not also be illegal”.
But Mr. Hammond insisted on Dr. Adjei giving a definitive answer because the Minister has a supervisory role over GNPC which is among Ghana’s Jubilee Partners including Tullow Oil, Kosmos Energy, EO Group and Anadarko that had contracted MODEC to build, operate and maintain the FPSO on their behalf.
He indicated that it was not MODEC that was paying the $5 million to Tsatsu’s company but that GNPC, together with other jubilee partners, was footing the bill and therefore the people of Ghana needed to know where the oil money was going.
Mr. Hammond, a former deputy minister for Energy, reminded the House that International Financial Corporation (IFC) and Multinational Insurance Guarantee Agency (MIGA) were investigating MODEC’s award of an Advisory Services contract to the SOG Limited.
The two financial institutions, Daily Guide learnt, were conducting due diligence on the contract awarded to Strategic Oil, focusing on the nature of the services provided and the basis of the award of the contract.
IFC is acting as both shareholder and debt provider in the Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) Kwame Nkrumah, whilst MIGA is providing insurance cover for it.
The investigations, Daily Guide further gathered, was also putting spotlight on the Jubilee Partners’ award of the FPSO to MODEC and the extent of involvement of GNPC in the decision to award the contract to the Japanese firm.
The financial institutions also would, am ong others, like to find out how much influence Mr. Tsikata brought to bear to enable MODEC to obtain a competitive advantage over other bidders. The New Crusading Guide reported that following the investigation, the US authorities waded into the matter and conducted investigations into the service contract given to Strategic Oil and Gas Resources Limited.
The report suggested that the contract awarded by MODEC appeared to have violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.