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08 October 2013

Destroyed Documents of the $24m Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) Ship.

THE JUDGEMENT debt commission is probing the accounts of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) to unravel the mystery sale of the oil drilling ship at $24million as well as the utilisation of the accrued cash.
However, it appears the Sole Judgement Debt Commissioner, Justice Yaw Apau, and his team may have more sleepless nights over the issue as latest information provided indicated that documents relating to the transaction had been shredded.

Fredrick Boniface Senahie, a senior manager at the State Enterprises Audit Corporation, the state-owned auditing firm that audited the accounts of GNPC during sale of the ship in 2001, yesterday told Justice Apau’s commission that working documents that would have provided key information on the deal had been shredded.

Sale of Drill Ship
Ghana Government in 2001 sold GNPC’s Drill Ship Discoverer 511 at $24million to service several debts owed by the stated-owned oil company following a series of failed agreements entered into in the 1990s.
Out of the money received from the sale of the ship, $19.5million was said to have been paid to Societe Generale as judgement debt secured against GNPC in a London Court in 1999.
Surprisingly, all the actors in the deal have told the judgement debt commission probing the transaction in addition to other judgement debt payments, that  they have no documents covering the deal.
As part of efforts to solve this conundrum, the State Enterprises Audit Corporation was subpoenaed by the Sole Commissioner to produce GNPC’s audited accounts and working documents for 2001.
The audited firm, led by Mr. Senahie, provided the 2001 audited accounts of the state-owned oil company but could not produce the working documents.
The audited accounts indicated that GNPC’s petroleum production equipment were sold in 2001 but because working documents were shredded, Mr. Senahie could not explain whether the drill ship was part of the equipment sold.
According to him, the State Enterprises Audit Corporation ceased to audit GNPC accounts in 2005 and that explained why the working documents were shredded.

Justice Apau’s Fury
Justice Apau, a Court of Appeal Judge sitting as the sole commissioner, registered his displeasure at poor record keeping in the country, a bad practice, which he bemoaned was being used to virtually fleece the country.
“If you don’t keep proper records, you can do anything at all and destroy the trace,” the sole commissioner decried.

Other testimonies
The Managing Director of Societe Generale-Ghana, Gilbert Hie, had earlier told the judgement debt commission that his outfit had no records of the drill ship and the subsequent judgement debt payment of $19.5 million to their parent company Societe Generale in 2001.
Mr. Hie indicated that both their offices in Ghana and France did not have any record on the $19.5 million reportedly paid to Societe Generale after the sale of the oil ship.
According to him, Societe Generale-Ghana came into existence in 2003 two years after the transaction and, therefore, had no idea about the payment made in 2001.
He indicated that Societe Generale did not have an  of office in Ghana at the time Tsatsu Tsikata led GNPC engaged the services of the French-based financial and transaction advisors in the early 1990s.
Mr. Hie, who was subpoenaed to produce documents on the payment, said before receiving the subpoena, he had no knowledge of the issue.
“I contacted our legal department here in Ghana to contact head office in France, unfortunately we cannot trace the documents at the legal department in Paris,” Mr. Hie told the Sole Commissioner.

Destroyed Documents
According to him, as a policy of Societe Generale, all documents relating to commercial transactions are destroyed after 10 years of the transaction.
He said the case at hand was more than 10 years and, therefore, it was most likely that the documents relating to it could have been destroyed.
“We keep our archives for 10years and the rule is that we destroy them after 10years”, Mr. Hie reiterated, giving more work for the judgement debt commission to do.
Counsel for the judgement debt Commission, Kofi Dometi Sokpor, contested the claim, insisting that by practice they should have copies of the documents in their archives.


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