Former GNPC boss says not privy to sale of drill ship

Siem VesselA former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Mr Amos Ofori Quaah, yesterday told the Judgment Debt Commission that he was never privy to any information regarding the sale of Discovery D551, the oil drill ship belonging to the corporation.

The ship was sold at $24 million, out of which $19.5 million was used to defray a debt GNPC owed the French multinational bank, Societe General.

Mr Quaah explained that he was kept in the dark until all transactions relating to the sale of the ship had been completed.

According to him, he was only brought into the picture when he was ordered to sign a power of attorney which had already been prepared by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice for the transfer of the ship to the buyers.

Asked by the commissioner whether he had seen any judgement debt document, he replied, “I never saw any judgement document.”

Mr Hammond brokered the deal. Mr Quaah said Mr K. T. Hammond, a former Deputy Minister of Energy, was sent to London to broker a settlement deal on the issue.

He said after the sale, the proceeds were not lodged with the GNPC accounts.

According to him, when he inquired about details on the sale from Mr Hammond, “Mr Hammond told me that I did not send him anywhere and that he had been sent by the President”.

Mr Quaah said he wrote to the President for answers, and the minister, in October, wrote back that the ship had been disposed of for $24 million, out of which $19.5 million had been used to defray the corporation’s debt.

He described the financial and administrative position of the GNPC then as precarious.

He said as the CEO from March 2001, to March, 2002, he could best describe the condition of the corporation then with just “a four-letter word”.

Not satisfied with the treatment which had been meted out to the CEO during the transaction, Mr Justice Apau, the Sole Commissioner, stated that those involved in the sale of the ship had refused to inform the CEO about anything but when they wanted a power of attorney, they had gone to him.

Mr Justice Apau said PNDC Law 64, which had established the GNPC, was explicit that the board of directors “shall have responsibility over all the assets and other activities of the corporation and could also delegate some of its powers to the CEO” and wondered why the minister could act on behalf of a corporation which could sue and be sued.

He also read portions of some of the documents regarding the sale which required that the board of directors of the GNPC must give its consent and also demand that on a specific date stated in the document parties to the deal must come to Ghana to sign a memorandum of agreement.

To that, the former CEO said, “They did not come to sign any document. I did not see any memorandum of agreement on the property.”

Using Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) as an example, Mr Justice Apau said the Minister of Finance could not sell assets of GCB without the explicit consent and authority of its board.

The commissioner commended Mr Quaah for flying all the way from his base in London to honour the commission’s invitation.

Source: GNA

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