Tony Lithur, a private legal practitioner who represented Calf Cocoa International Ghana Limited in a suit between the firm and the Ghana government, yesterday, confirmed to the Commission of Enquiry investigating the payment of judgment debts that he secured $4,150,127.50 for his client.
He told the commission presided over by Justice Yaw Apau of the Court of Appeal that the matter ended up in court because the government at the time refused to release about $2.6 million to Calf Cocoa for its operations.
The ‘Commission of Enquiry into the payment of Judgment Debts and Akin’ under C.I. 79 to investigate the frivolous and dubious payments of huge monies to undeserving individuals and companies was appointed by President John Dramani Mahama after public uproar over the payments of what has now come to be termed as Judgment Debts (JDs).
Payment To CP, Woyome
Notable among them were payments made to CP and the never case of GH51.2 million parted to the self-styled National Democratic Congress (NDC) financier, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, both of which believed were dubious and frivolous.
Narrating the incident that led to the judgment debt, Mr. Lithur said, “I represented Calf Cocoa International in the suit titled Calf Cocoa International Ghana Limited versus the Attorney General, and the suit was preceded by a letter which I had written on behalf of the client to the AG requesting for the release of certain funds under a subsidiary loan agreement between the government and Calf Cocoa International.”
He said, “Calf Cocoa International Ghana Limited is a joint venture company between Carridem Development Company Limited and China International Corporation Company for horticultural livestock and fishery. It was a company nominated by the Chinese government to enter into a joint venture agreement with Carridem for the processing of cocoa for export to China.”
He said Carridem, an investment wing of the 31st December Women’s Movement (DWM), owned 45 percent and Calf Cocoa International Ghana Limited had 55 percent; and there was a general loan facility between the governments of Ghana and China for certain sums to be disbursed to Ghana.
“Under that general loan facility, several subsidiary loans were entered into in respect of specific areas of the economy. This subsidiary loan was targeted at cocoa processing. That loan was for a sum of about $8.750 million supposed to be part of the complete funding required to set up the factory and start processing,” adding “The difference between $8.750 million and the $10 million was supposed to be paid by Carridem which in fact, they did.”
Mr. Lithur said the disbursement started before 2000 and by 2003, the factory had virtually been completed and the final tranche of that facility was to be what he called “working capital.”
“From the working capital, Calf Cocoa was supposed to be paying for advertisement, cocoa beans, do trial tests and get the company ready for operation. That was when the problem started,” he said, adding that ‘there was some reluctance on the part of the Ministry of Finance to disburse the amount.”
He said the working capital was $2.6 million and added that the ministry had said it would not pay the amount directly to Calf Cocoa and that Calf Cocoa should enter into a sales agreement with Cocobod for the purchase of cocoa beans and that the money would be paid directly to Cocobod.