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23.03.2009 Crime & Punishment

AG goes to Supreme Court over Rockshell debt

By GNA

About a month after the Governor of Bank of Ghana, Dr Paul Acquah's contempt suit was withdrawn from the Fast Track High Court for out of court settlement in a suit filed by Management of Rockshell International Limited, construction company for non-payment of debt owed by the State, the Attorney-General (AG) has gone to the Supreme Court challenging the jurisdiction of the lower court.

Rockshell was contracted to work on the Keta Sea Defence Project in 1986 but after the completion of work, Government failed to pay GH¢55,305.60 (¢553,056,000) for work done.

After series of meetings both parties agreed on 12,000,000 dollars to be paid to Rockshell subjected to agreed terms of settlements.

The State, according to the AG, however, paid only 5,000,000 dollars in two tranches to the management.

In the motion on notice to invoke the supervisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the Attorney-General is seeking an order of Certiorari to quash the decision of the Fast Track High Court presided over by Mr Edward A. Asante.

The AG is further seeking an order of prohibition to prevent the Fast Track High Court from hearing an application brought before it by Rockshell.

The Attorney-General in its submission, said the Fast Track High Court erred when it granted an order directing the Governor of Bank of Ghana to release GH¢700,000 from the Contingency Operational Account in payment of judgement debt since it did not have the jurisdiction to make that order.

“The Fast Track High Court did not have the jurisdiction to attach public funds in satisfaction of a judgement debt. It is only the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning that has a vote or budget line for the payment of judgement debts and compensations,” it said.

Following fruitless meetings between Rockshell and BOG to settle the remaining amount at agreed terms of 60 per cent to be paid by October 25, 2006 and the rest paid in instalments by December 18, 2006 and February 29, 2007, the company had been slapped with series of applications for partial stay of execution of the garnishee order.

On January 9, 2009 the Fast Track High Court ordered BOG to release GH¢700,000 cedis out of the balance in the Contingency Operational Account and attach a garnishee orders.

Meanwhile, Mr Alfred Hall, General Manager of Rockshell, has filed an affidavit in opposition recounting the irreparable hardship and tribulation its officers have suffered as a result of Government's failure to pay for work done.

Due to Government's non-payment of the debt, Mr Hall said the company had been compelled to pay debt owed to its bankers adding that it had lost equipment and factory premises as well as personal assets.

He contended that the posture by the BOG in demanding particulars of the accounts and denying the existence of same led to garnishee orders.

Mr Hall questioned the “bizarre twist of circumstances when the intention to file the instant motion was brought to the notice of the Fast Track High Court judge on February 19, 2009, the judge proceeded suo motto, to vacate all orders he had made in the suit including even those not challenged in this application”.

“The said action by the Fast Track High Court judge should be condemned as it has brought the administration of justice into disrepute and thereby eroded the confidence that the interested party had in the court.”

When the case was called at the Supreme Court, the matter was adjourned sine die because it needed to examine some documents that had been filed.

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