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General News Sat, 30 Nov 2013

Tsikata defended Societe Generale's $40m debt claim in 1998 - Baako

Editor in Chief of the New Crusading Guide newspaper Kweku Baako Jnr has produced copies of Board minutes of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) in which former boss of the Corporation Tsatsu Tsikata defended a $40 million debt claim by Societe Generale.

Quoting copiously the December 16, 1998 minutes of the Board meeting, Baako said Tsikata also defended fully the hedging policy the corporation entered into with the French Bank Societe General which has now become the basis of a judgement debt scandal in the country.

Kweku Baako Jnr was discussing on Newsfile, the controversial sale of GNPC's oil drill ship in 2001, which the Sole Judgement Debt Commission, constituted to investigate all judgement debts in the country is currently probing. The Kufuor government in 2001 sold the oil drill ship for 24 million dollars to pay off a negotiated settlement with Societe Generale.

The French Bank had gone to court to retrieve monies it lent to GNPC in 1996 for oil exploration activities.

The Bank was claiming in excess of 40 million dollars from GNPC. The Kufuor government which won power in 2001 decided to enter into a negotiated settlement with Societe, sold the oil drill ship and ended up paying the negotiated settlement of 19.5 million dollars.

Years later, that decision and action by the Kufuor government has been challenged.

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When the former GNPC boss Tsatsu Tsikata appeared before the Sole Commissioner he said the Kufuor government could have paid far less than it eventually paid to Societe Generale.

Describing the former president Kufuor as "debt collector" to Societe, he said GNPC, under his tenure had agreed to pay 12 million dollars and not the 19.5 million dollars the NPP government eventually paid.

He chided the NPP for not challenging the claims being made by Societe Generale at the time.

But speaking on Joy FM and Multi TV's Newsfile programme, Kweku Baako insists that contrary to the claims made by Tsikata when he appeared before the Commission there is ample evidence that Tsikata defended and justified the 40 million Societe Generale debt against GNPC.

Quoting from minutes of meetings of the GNPC Board, Kweku Baako Jnr said Tsikata was "a debt defender" to Societe Generale.

Baako said when Tsikata was asked by one of the Board members if the claim of 40 million dollars by Societe General was justifiable, Tsikata responded in the affirmative.

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He, (Tsikata) however, apologised profusely for not informing the Board before entering into the transaction with Societe Generale, Baako read the minutes as saying.

He later quoted the chairman of the Board, whose name he did not mention, reprimanding Tsatsu Tsikata for entering into such a transaction without the Board's approval and advised him to inform the Board on subsequent transactions. If Tsikata is now describing Mr Kufuor as a debt collector, he Tsikata was a debt defender, Baako fired.

A member of the panel and Presidential Staffer Dr Clement Apaak said the documents being brandished by Kweku Baako Jnr cannot be said to be gospel.

He found it rather curious how a debt of 14 million dollars as indicated by former Energy Minister Kan Dapaah was negotiated upwards to 19.5 million dollars.

He said there are more questions than answers in the deal and demanded that the Nana Akufo Addo, who was then the Attorney General during the controversial sale of the drill ship must be hauled before the Commission.

Source: Myjoyonline.com