Tsatsu Tsikata on Drillship Saga: Kufuor Was a “Debt Collector” For Societe Generale.
Former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Tsatsu Tsikata, says former President John Kufuor was virtually a “debt collector” for French Bank Societe Generale as far as the Corporation’s indebtedness to the Bank was concerned.
“…Certain steps had been taken completely outside the framework of the GNPC law in terms of how it was alleged that the Government had decided that Societe Generale should be paid certain monies and the ways in which those monies were paid and so on because it looked as if rather unusually, the President of the Republic himself was becoming the debt collector for Societe Generale”, Tsikata told the judgment debt commission Tuesday.
He said he was befuddled by the turn of events as far as the Government of Ghana’s involvement in collecting a judgment debt award for Societe General.
“…When did the President of the Republic of Ghana become a debt collector for anybody, you know, much less a French Bank or the Attorney General or the Minister of Energy or his Deputy for that matter”, he wondered.
Mr. Tsikata, who was testifying about GNPC’s indebtedness to Societe General, which allegedly compelled the selling of its drillship to defray the debt, also told the Commission that: “As of December 2000 when I left GNPC, there was neither a judgment nor a judgment debt against the GNPC or Government of of Ghana”.
According to him, Societe Generale had earlier made a claim of 40 Million which the GNPC counterclaimed and resisted.
He said the French Bank claimed the debt arose from a series of transactions spanning from 1997.
The ship was sold for US$24Million. US$19.5Million of the sale proceeds was used to pay off a default judgment debt slapped against the GNPC in favour of Societe Generale by an English Court.
US$900,000 was deposited into an escrow account to settle GNPC’s indebtedness to some of its creditors and suppliers while US$100,000 was used to pay legal fees concerning the sale transaction.
However, US$3.5Million of the US$24Million is still unaccounted for.
Former Energy Minister, Albert Kan-Dapaah and his Deputy, K.T. Hammond both told the Commission Monday that the money was deposited into an account of the Government of Ghana at the Ghana International Bank in London on the orders of the then Acting High Commissioner, Chris Kpodo.