Judgment Debt Commission fingers Barton Odro in outrageous payment

The Judgment Debt Commission is raising questions about the actions of former Deputy Attorney-General Ebo Barton Odro in the payment of a four million cedis judgment debt to African Automobile Company Limited.

In its report, the commission says the former Deputy Attorney General directed the payment of the debt in 2011 on the blind side of his boss, Martin Amidu.

A copy of the commission’s report described the decision as outrageous, particularly when the payment was done at a time the commission was interrogating the claim.

Between 1995 and 2008, African Automobile and some of its subsidiaries supplied vehicles to the Office of the President, Department of Urban Roads, and other agencies.

Part of the cost of these vehicles was settled. So the chairman of the company sent three different petitions to the Judgment Commission, seeking its intervention for the payment of the outstanding balance of more than 800 million Ghana cedis on which the company had secured judgment of a court.

The commission raised concerns about how the three different judgment debts secured by the company had ballooned because of built up interest.

According to the report of the commission, the company submitted a first petition on 5th August 2013, claiming that it obtained a judgment against some MDAs in April 2011 in the sum of more than 800,000 cedis, but no payment had been made.

By 30th September 2013 the amount, together with interest had risen to 1.5 million cedis.

The second petition claimed that in July 2010, the Company obtained judgment against the Ministry of Employment, Manpower and Development in the sum of more than 16,540,596.00. However, as at the date of the petition, the said judgment debt had not been paid, notwithstanding an order by the Attorney-General directing the Ministry of Finance to pay same.

As a result of the delay, the judgment debt had attracted an interest of GHc602, 149,545.57 as at 30th September 2013, i.e. five days before the petition was submitted to the Commission.

This brings it to a total of GHc618, 690,141.79 within a period of just three years.

The third and last petition dated 6th August 2013 claimed the Company obtained judgment against some MDAs in January 2009 in the sum of Eight million, three hundred and seventy-nine thousand.

The Company stated further that because government had delayed in paying the money, an interest of GHc4, 159,010.38 had accrued on the money within a period of just twenty (20) months, which the Finance Ministry had asked to be paid.

On the specific role played by the former Deputy Attorney General the report said that, unknown to the Commission, a post-judgment interest of GHc4, 159,010.38 which this Commission found outrageous, was paid to the Company somewhere in 2013 on the orders or directives of the then Deputy Minister of Justice and Attorney-General Ebo Barton Odro at a time the petitions were being delved into by this Commission.

The substantive Minister of Justice and Attorney-General at the time Martin A. B. K. Amidu said he knew nothing about the directives given by his deputy to the Ministry of Finance for the said payment since he did not authorize him to do so.

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