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04.12.2002 General News

FTC hears PNDC $2.5bn loan case today

By The Statesman
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The Fast Track High Court (FTC) will hear the lawsuit, which centers on an alleged $2.5bn loan pursued by the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) in the late 1980s. The court would be presided over by Justice Beatrice Agyeman Bempah.

A week today, The Statesman carried the banner headline: “Mystery of $2.5bn Loan to Ghana under P/NDC,” making it absolutely clear that the facts of the case before the FTC today, as stated by the plaintiff, has the potential of revealing to Ghanaians the biggest financial scandal ever in the country's history of corruption.

The paper reported that, according to the writ and statement of both private parties to the suit, at the time when the aspiring flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress, Dr Kwesi Botchwey was in charge of finance, a $2.5bn loan package was arranged between the Government of Ghana and a private source, Hong Kong Trust.

Thus, while the suit may, on the face of it, be between two private parties, it, nevertheless, raises issues of immense national interest. “The Statesman went further to quote an assertion in the writ that the first instalment of $1bn was transferred for the benefit of Ghana but could not be traced because of alleged fraudulent conversions of all documents on the loan.

Dr Botchwey, the former Secretary of Finance and Economic Planning, whose name was linked to the early negotiations, dismissed “The Statesman” story as completely without any foundation, adding, “there must be a limit to mischief.”

This may have wrongly suggested that there was no basis to the story. But, as the courts' Cause List this morning including, Suit No FTC 4/2002 of H.E. Kirksey and Associates verses Egbert Adjeso and another shows, The Statesman's story simply confirmed a matter before the law court of this country, in Accra.

For the avoidance of doubt, this paper reproduced both the statement of Claim of the plaintiff and the statement of Defence and Counter-claim of the defence in two consecutive editions, including Tuesday's.

The writ, dated 16 November 2002, shows that the two parties involved in the suit used to be business partners who fell out along the way. This appears to form the basis of today's legal action, offering the people of this country an opportunity to bear witness to this intriguing tale, which due to the culture of secrecy that marked the military rule might have probably stayed silent for good.

The statement of Claim says in paragraph 4: “After several meetings in Washington with Ghana's Secretary of Finance and Economic Planning, the Plaintiff Company was invited in 1986 by the Ghana Government through the Ghana Embassy in Washington to complete the transaction in Accra.

The succeeding paragraph says: “Plaintiff Company avers that in 1986 its Chairman H.E. Van Kirksey and his Vice and Chief Financial Officer Clifford Townsend came to Ghana and presented their loan package of $2.5bn to the Government of Ghana through the Governor of the Bank of Ghana.

At paragraph 6, “Plaintiff Company avers that after several meeting with the relevant officials and Financial Institutions, including the Bank of Ghana in none of which the Defendant participated, the loan package of $2.5bn was sealed on Bank of Ghana letterhead on 29 May 1987 and witnessed by the solicitor of the Bank of Ghana and Clifford Townsend.

In their statement of Defence and Counter-claim, the defendants say in paragraph 10. “Save that after several meetings with the relevant officials and Financial Institutions including the Bank of Ghana, the loan package of $2.5bn was sealed on Bank of Ghana letterhead on the 29 May 1987 and witnesses (sic) by the solicitor (sic) of the Bank of Ghana and Clifford S. Townsend, paragraph 6 of the statement of claim is denied.”

It goes on to say that “the first defendant (Egbert Ajeso) took part in all the negotiations in respect of the loan package of $2.5bn with officials of the Government of Ghana and financial institution including the Bank of Ghana.”

The court case appears to have been motivated by the fact that the plaintiff company, which claims to operate from the exclusive address of Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC, feels cheated by not receiving the fee due it for its part in allegedly pulling off the deal.

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