17.07.2012 General News

Judgement Debt Saga- Akufo-Addo Fingered

By Sebastian Syme - Daily Graphic
Mr Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa - Deputy Information MinisterMr Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa - Deputy Information Minister
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The impression created that the flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, would not condone the payment of judgement debts is false, the government has said.

Addressing a news conference in Accra Monday, Deputy Information Minister, Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa said one of the first actions taken by the NPP flag bearer when he assumed office as Attorney-General was to recommend the payment of “settlement.”

Mr Ablakwa said, this is evidenced by a letter dated April 18, 2001 which Nana Akufo-Addo authored and in which he agreed to the payment of a sum of more than $1.1 million to Great Cape Ltd, a Swiss company, without further negotiations or court processes.

Mr Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, “ in the spirit of transparency and full disclosure” presented two letters authored by Nana Akufo-Addo, to back his claim.

Meanwhile, he has expressed the hope that the Attorney-General would, in a matter of weeks, initiate action against all whose actions have resulted in the payment of collosal judgement debts.

The first letter, dated April 18, 2001, with the heading “Supplementary Claims by the Great Cape Company” and addressed to the Minister of Finance states: “It would be recalled that upon recommendations of my predecessor in office , in his letter dated 8th May, 1997, a copy of which is attached, your Ministry paid to the Great Cape Company of Switzerland an amount of US$927,000.00 intended to be the final settlement of a case involving a breach of contractual obligations of the government.”

“Subsequently upon a petition by the company, our office, looked at the case again and upheld the representation of the company to the effect that the interest due them should have been computed to the time of payment in 1998 and not to 1987 which was the time the original calculation was due,' it said.

The mistake occurred because when the matter came up after 1997, the company did not submit all the data which were subsequently incorporated in their letter of September 6, 1999. The company, acting through its solicitors, has filed another petition to us. The contents are similar to the earlier petition dated September, 1999. Having examined it, I agree with recommendations contained in the letter of the Solicitor general dated 10th November, 1999 copy of which is attached for ease of reference. Accordingly, I recommend the payment of the difference between the 1987 figure and that of 1998. This amounts to US 1,117,818.45 “ it added.

The second letter, written after the NPP had left office and dated October 3, 2011, is headed: “Re: Letter and signature authentication: Appeal for assistance” and is addressed to Dr Nat Tanoh, 2 Third Rangoon Close, Cantonments, Accra. It reads:

“This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 20th September, 2011, requesting my assistance in the settlement of government’s longstanding indebtedness to Great Cape Company of Switzerland.”

It states further: “I am somewhat disturbed by its contents, which have led to the unusual request contained in the letter. It is disconcerting to find that public record keeping has fallen into such straits that the files on this matter cannot be found either in the Ministry of Justice or in the Ministry of Finance. Be that as it may, it would be unconscionable on the part of government if its own poor record keeping is used to defeat legitimate claims of its creditors. I have a vague recollection of the transaction and can readily confirm that the signature on the letter ILD/SCR/002 dated 18th April 2001, addressed to the Ministry of Finance, attached to your letter, is indeed mine. I note from your letter that such a confirmation will satisfy the Attorney-General to whom I am addressing a copy of this letter. I am also sending a copy to the Minister of Finance. I hope this is satisfactory for your purpose.”

Mr Okudzeto-Ablakwa said the two letters showed that Nana Akufo-Addo was no stranger to the payment of judgement debts.

He said while the NPP flagbearer and his acolytes had stated that judgement debts connoted corruption, he had been busily advocating, behind the scenes, that Great Cape Company of Switzerland be paid the said amount in what he (Akufo Addo) referred to as “Great Cape’s legitimate claims.”

“Are we to infer from Mr Akufo-Addo’s action that is possible to agree with a private company’s claim and not be acting against the state? Or perhaps there should be different strokes for different folks? Even ten years after Akufo-Addo left office, he believes fervently that Great Cape Company of Switzerland has a legitimate claim against the state. Indeed he has not only been faithful to Great Cape, but also he states in writing that it would be unconscionable on the part of government to defeat legitimate claims of its creditors,” he said.

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