CP DEAL WORSE THAN WOYOME… Says Minority in Parliament
By Chronicle Reporter
The Minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) members in Parliament say the choreographed manner at which state funds, amounting to 94 million Euros, was dolled out to Construction Pioneers (CP) under the full watch of former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Madam Betty Mould-Iddrisu is worse than the Woyome GH¢51 million dole-out saga.
At a news conference at Parliament House in Accra yesterday, Minority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, who read a prepared text, said evidence on the ground indicated that Ghana had been shortchanged in the deal, and that certainly, former Attorney General Madam Betty Mould-Iddrisu cannot absolve herself from blame.
Giving the sequence of events leading to the award of the money to CP, Mr. Mensah-Bonsu said when in 2001 it was found out that some payments had been effected to CP on the Biriwa–Takoradi Road Project (BTRP) based on suspicion that the “padded” rates were fraudulent, payments were suspended on the understanding that the padded rates or loaded amounts were the ones that had been captured in a Payment Schedule Agreement.
Mr. Keyi-Mensah Bonsu said an amount of 48 million Euros was paid to CP as a result of a fraudulent exercise undertaken by the company to get the state pay for an expense on a contract it did not execute.
In trying to unravel the mystery, when arbitration commenced on the matter, the Republic of Ghana claimed that CP had engaged in fraud with the padding of the BTRP contract rates, which had resulted in the transfer of about DM48 million to CP’s accounts on 4th and 5th March 2003. Ghana then argued and requested the Arbitral Tribunal to decline jurisdiction to enable the matter of fraud to be dealt with in Ghana under the relevant law, which is the Arbitration Act, 1961 (Act 38).
He said Section 27(2) of the law provides thus: “Where an agreement between the parties provides that differences which may arise in the future between them shall be referred to arbitration, and a difference which arises involves the question of whether a party has been guilty of fraud, the High Court may, so far as may be necessary, to enable that question to be determined by the court,
(a) Order that the agreement shall cease to have effect, and
(b) Give leave to revoke the authority of an arbitrator or umpire appointed by or by virtue of the agreement.”
Following the jurisdictional objection, the majority members noted that Ghana applied before the High Court to revoke the authority of the Tribunal, an application which was granted by the court on April 17, 2003.
On 16th July 2003, CP appealed against the High Court’s revocation order. The appeal is still pending. Notwithstanding the revocation order issued by the High Court of Ghana, the Arbitral Tribunal went ahead with the arbitration and made its first award on December 22, 2003, rejecting Ghana’s jurisdictional objection.
The Minority Leader further told the gathering that on October 30, 2007, a District Court in Washington DC, USA, ordered CP to make a settlement proposal to Ghana on or before November 13, 2007, and for Ghana to either accept or make a reasoned counter-offer on or before November 27, 2007.
“Indeed on November 7, 2007 CP wrote to GoG proposing an [overall settlement between CP and Government of Ghana] in which they claimed a total of 153.546 million Euros as at November 30, 2007. They, however, insisted that they were not keen to pursue their total claims and called for mediation.”
Again, CP later wrote to the Government of Ghana and proposed, through their attorneys on November 13, 2007, that they would accept 95 million Euros “in full and final settlement of all outstanding matters.” Further, CP called for “a resolution of the collateral disputes between CP and GoG, i.e. tax issues through the date of the settlement, conclusion of the “fraud” investigation of CP, Robert Ploetner (MD of CP), Bernard Ploetner, CP’s Ghanaian employees, and any other such matters.”
The Minority contended that it did it not make any legal or financial sense to agree to settle and pay 94 million Euros to CP, when the government had insisted and CP had conceded to “loaded” rates.
In the words of Mr. Kyei-Mensah Bonsu, the Minority could not also fathom how the Attorney-General could start negotiations to settle, when she knew that her predecessors had sued CP for fraud, and had in addition, filed suits to vacate the awards to CP, in respect of the BTRP.
They also raised questions on how the then Attorney-General, Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu, alone could go ahead to negotiate such colossal amounts without the assistance or collaboration from the Minister of Finance.
“Apparently, the initial instructions for such payment emanated from the office of the Hon. Attorney-General. The critical question is, does the Minister of Finance, Dr. Duffuor, take instructions from colleague ministers or from the President in such matters that do not ensue from the budget of the A-G’s Department?”
“Whose interest were the people who did the negotiation to settle serving? … there are many more questions to be asked. Clearly, the nation has been shortchanged to the tune of 94 million Euros, which is over GH¢225 million or ¢2.25 trillion cedis,” the Minority Leader queried, further asking “President Mills to immediately authorise the appropriate agencies to plunge into this CP dole-out which stinks to the high heavens.”
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