SSNIT says not informed of GH¢4m ITG debt payment

cediMr Peter Ahiagbor, Head of Legal Services, Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), on Wednesday told the Judgment Debt Commission that SSNIT was not informed about payment of judgment debt to International Tobacco Ghana (ITG).

He said the payment of more than GH¢4 million to ITG without the involvement of SSNIT although SSNIT was a chief party in the suit, took place when Mrs Betty Mould Iddrisu was  then the Attorney-General (A-G) and Minister of Justice.

Mr Ahiagbor said in 1989, CEPS issued a distress warrant for some properties of ITG to be sold for non-payment of tax for which SSNIT purchased some of the items.

Mr Hiagbor, who did not take an oath but affirmed to speak the truth, said in 1990, ITG commenced legal proceedings on the matter, claiming damages and recovery of properties from SSNIT.

SSNIT in turn filed a defence and counter claim, stating that it had indemnity from the law suit.

In 2004, the court gave its ruling on the matter and declared the seizure of assets of ITG by CEPS as unlawful, and called for the payment of compensation to ITG.

Mr Hiagbor said after the ruling by the late Justice Kwesi Acquah, the case was adjourned but, Justice Acquah passed away before the next sitting.

Mr Hiagbor said the case was pending in court, and the next sitting had been scheduled for June 13, 2013.

He said after the ruling by the court, the A-G started holding meetings with ITG on the payment of the judgment debt without the involvement of the parties involved and subsequently some payment was made to ITG.

Mr Hiagbor said Meridian Tobacco, after been given the trademark of ITG, took over the running of ITG, but Meridian Tobacco was also later taken over by the British American Tobacco, which has an office at Takoradi.

Mr Hiagbor agreed with Justice Yaw Appau, Sole Commissioner that the then A-G did not consider the interest of CEPS and SSNIT when paying ITG GH¢4,179, 718.00 because SSNIT had an indemnity and also because they were not consulted.

Justice Appau asked Mr Hiagbor to furnish the Commission with all the needed documentation, to facilitate its work.

Madam Grace Issahague, Principal State Attorney on secondment to the Registrar-General’s Department, educated the Commission on trademarks.

This was regarding the sale of ITG’s trademark to Meridian Tobacco by CEPS when it auctioned the sale of ITG’s assets in 1989.

She, however, could not ascertain whether Meridian Tobacco rightfully acquired the trademark of ITG or not, and pledged to conduct investigations  and furnish the Commission with information on the issue.

The ITG in 1990 took the CEPS to court to seek redress on the sale of its trademark to Meridian Tobacco, and the seizure and auctioning of its properties by the then PNDC government for non-payment of taxes.

The properties included the company’s headquarters, two bungalows and another estate at Boukrom in Kumasi.

The court in 2004 ruled in favour of ITG, and ordered CEPS to compensate the company by paying them accrued rent and compensation in three tranches as prescribed by the Lands Valuations Board for which then A-G paid in 2009.

On Tuesday,  Mr Larry Fiifi Yankson, Head of Legal Services, Custom Excise and Preventive Service, who also appeared before the Commission, said that SSNIT was not formally informed of the payment to ITG although  SSNIT was a chief party in the suit.

He said though judgement on the case was entered in January 2004, and payment of more than GH¢4 million was made to ITG in 2009, the case was not over as some ‘aspects’ were still in court.

Source: GNA

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