An official from the Bank of Ghana (BoG) yesterday appeared before the Commission of Enquiry into the payments of Judgement Debts to explain the circumstances leading to the creation of a special account which has been given different names by state institutions that managed it.
According to the Central Bank, the account in question (0113060014036) referred to by the Controller and Accountant General as judgement debt account was rather a five-year Treasury Bond account number.
The Commission presided over by Justice Yaw Apau of the Court of Appeal had insisted last week that evidence on the records indicated that there was an account at the central bank for judgement debts payments and asked BoG to clarify further.
Lesley Akrong, an Assistant Director and Head of Domestic Banking at BoG, appearing yesterday, re-confirmed the account as a five-year Treasury Bond into which the government’s proceeds were paid and gave a history behind its creation.
He said, ‘It was not known in our books as Special Judgement Debt account,’ adding that ‘the description was meant to portray the intention of the government at that time to pay judgement debts but specifically we do not have that.’
When asked by the Commission’s counsel if the BoG ever wrote to the Controller for them to correct the anomaly, Mr. Akrong replied that ‘they wrote several letters with that Special Judgement Debt Account description but from our records, we did not write to the Controller.
He said on December 22, 2006, the Central Bank received a letter from then Deputy Minister of Finance Anthony Akoto-Osei, copied to the Controller, directing how the account was to be used, adding, ‘The discretion is for the ministry to direct us on how we manage their accounts.’
He said in that letter, the ministry had stated that the government was going to use proceeds in the account to settle what he called ‘short dated maturities.’
In the said letter, Mr. Akrong the ministry specifically requested the bank to use proceeds in the account to settle Severance and other judgement debts (¢250billion), SOEs and banks (¢347billion) as well as Domestic restructuring (¢159billion).
‘For us, the Controller is describing the account and we know what to do…the account was opened when the five-year bonds were floated.
‘In effect, the account was opened on December 18, 2006. This account is meant to be transitory in the sense that it is expected to read nil when it closes and it was closed on December 17, 2007.’
Mr. Akrong confirmed that the bank paid judgement debt from the account in question adding that ‘out of ¢250billion allocated, we paid only 22.6billion as judgement debts. The balance was used to make other payments from the same account.’
Andrews Kingsley Kwadzo Kufe, Deputy Controller in charge of Treasuries also testified and said ‘it was unfortunate we used the transaction to describe the account,’ adding ‘we are sincerely sorry.’
However, the Sole Commissioner said there was no need for the Controller to render apology because they were acting on instructions from the ministry that had given that description.
‘The first letter was written by the late Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu as Finance Minister…the ministry had a purpose for it and the purpose was to pay judgement debts. So what crime have you committed to apologize?’ Justice Apau asked.
Mr. Kufe then tendered in evidence the payment schedule concerning the account in question.
Later, Dorothy Afriyie Ansah a Chief State Attorney, assisted by Stella Badu, a Principal State Attorney brought in volumes of documents (five files and 17 exhibits) and tendered in evidence in respect of the Ghana Telecom versus Telecom Malaysia transaction.
She also tendered another batch of documents in evidence in the case between Construction Pioneers (CP) versus the Government of Ghana and the Ministry of Roads and Highways.
Later the Chief State Attorney tendered documents in the case of one Esther Boadu who was paid judgement debt of ¢30,000.00 in 2009 after she sued the Ministry of Health for negligence.
Interestingly, documents showed that the Ministry of Health investigated the claims and found that the nurse in question at the Asamankese Hospital was not negligent but the AD’s Department did not contest the case after entering appearance and even requested for an out of court settlement.
In the original suit, Esther Boadu had requested for special damages of GH¢5,000.00 and general damages for the loss of the use of her arms but after negotiations, she was paid ¢30,000.00.
By William Yaw Owusu
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