Ghana’s €94m judgment debt to CP: Betty Mould took right legal steps – AG

Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu - Former Attorney-General

The Attorney-General and Minister of Jus­tice, Dr Ben Kunbuor, yesterday told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parlia­ment that in the light of circumstances and the documents he had come across, his pred­ecessor, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu, took the right legal steps in arriving at the settlement of the 94 million euros judgement debt to Construction Pioneers (CP).

He explained that by October 10, 2006, a final award of €153 million had been made in favour of CP against the government by the International Court of Arbitration and the gov­ernment had no option but to submit to that rul­ing.

Dr Kunbuor explained tj1at, the figure at­tracted some interest and rose to €614 million, but through the efforts of the then Attor­ney-General through the settlement process, the two parties agreed that Ghana should pay only €94 million.

He made those submissions when the PAC resumed its sitting on the matter in Parliament.

“Ghana submitted itself to an international arbitration and was, therefore, bound to accept the ruling and pay the debt. Legally, therefore, there was nothing wrong by my predecessor in taking steps to settle the liability,” he said.

He argued that it would have been legally reckless for the government to have continued to raise objections while the interest on the debt kept on rising.

Dr Kunbuor added that according to the settlement agreement between Ghana and CP, Ghana was supposed to have paid €8 million as principal and €280,000 as interest in March this year, as against €8 million as principal and €140,000 as interest in June this year.

He explained that through a letter written to the PAC, he had sought guidance as to whether the amount due was to be paid or not, since the interest kept piling up.

On the question whether it was necessary for the former Attorney-General to have sought Cabinet approval, he stated that legally there was no need for such approval before advising the Ministry of Finance to effect such payments.

Dr Kunbuor said Mrs Mould-lddrisu came to meet a stalemate in the mediation process and had no option but to continue with it.

He said there was no evidence that Cabinet approval had been sought previously for the payment of any judgement debt and explained that even though former President Kufuor inter­vened to mediate in the CP saga, his attempt was inconclusive.

Tempers kept rising as sitting continued, with the Chairman of the committee, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, accusing Dr Kunbuor of not being prepared to assist the committee to get to the bottom of the CP issue.

He said even though the committee wanted answers to basic questions to add to the evidence it had already received during its previous 17 sit­tings, the Attorney-General kept going back and forth.

When asked whether the contracts signed be­tween CP and Ghana were international con­tracts, he declined to give an instant answer and asked for more time to study the contracts, since, according to him, “a lawyer does not carry the law in his head but finds it when necessary”.

Meanwhile, a Ranking Member of the PAC, Alhaji Amadu. Seidu, raised concern over the manner in which the Minority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, had held a press confer­ence to comment on the CP matter when the PAC had not concluded its finding.

In a statement read before yesterday’s sitting, Alhaji Seidu said by parliamentary practice, one would had expected the Minority Leader, if he had any information to clear in respect of the CP judgement payment, would have contacted the committee to assist it in its work.

“Such an approach is not only prejudicial to the work of the committee but also most likely to affect the conclusions of the committee, thereby raising credibility issues,” he stated.

He called on members of the PAC to work to redeem the image of the committee by establish­ing the necessary trust and confidence in the minds of the public by ensuring that “we show fairness and justice to witnesses and auditees who appear before us and as much as possible avoid subjecting them to trial by public opinion before the committee winds up its work”.

Source: Daily Graphic

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