StarTimes to sue government $200m

Management of a Chinese company with offices in Ghana, StarTimes, is battling the Government of Ghana (GoG) over alleged wrongful termination of contract, claiming a whopping $200 million for breach of contract.

According to the Daily Guide newspaper, the Chinese company which earlier won the contract to supply and install a reliable energy efficient and cost effective Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Network Solution on 11th April, 2012 has indicated its intention to institute arbitral proceedings at the International Commercial Court, London, against the government over the issue.

Daily Guide claims its source say the Minister of Communications, after the termination of the contract between his ministry and the company over alleged delayed implementation, dispatched a memo to cabinet for approval to re-award the contract to yet another company – Knet.

Interestingly, the entire cabinet, apart from one per­son, showed anger and dis­approval for what insiders have described as the unnecessary cancellation of the contract which was previous­ly approved by the same cabinet and awaiting parliamentary approval of a $95 mil­lion loan facility from the Exim Bank in China.

After signing of the DTT Loan Framework Agreement between the two countries on April 10, 2015, sources said the fund was allocated by the Chinese government for the project to take off, with the Finance Minister having prepared a joint memo ready to be laid before Parliament for approval.

But even before the said memo could be transferred to Parliament, the Communications Minister reportedly rushed through a process to get executive approval – a procedure said to be alien to the procurement law – to award the contract to Knet which had had no previous record of executing a digital migration project.

It is believed that the insistence of the minister to award the contract to Knet without going through the laid down procedures is to satisfy the whims and caprices of his colleague Deputy Communications Minister, Ato Sarpong, who until his appointment was the Chief Operating Officer of Knet – a clear case of conflict of interest.

Meanwhile, information reaching this paper indicates that the Communications Minister is about to resend the memo which had previously been rejected to cabinet for ratification after he had circumvented the process to obtain executive approval.

Our sources inside the Central Tender Board that had previously approved the StarTimes contract have indicated that the Board refused to approve the current con­tract to Knet on the basis that it could not approve the con­tract which had received executive approval because the executive does not award contracts.

In spite of all these developments, the minister is said to be hell-bent on forcing cabinet to ratify the contract to Knet, despite its imminent rejection by cabinet.

This, the source said, was what informed StarTimes’ decision to file a suit at the ICC against the Government of Ghana claiming $200 mil­lion after all attempts to use diplomatic means to resolve the impasse between the two countries failed to yield fruits.

StarTimes has shown its intention to see this through by engaging the legal services of Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah as its local solicitors and DLA Piper as its external solicitors to assist it to pursue its claims.

Bentsi-Enchill, Letsa & Ankomah represented Bankswitch as local counsel at the Permanent Court of Arbitration and won the judgement debt of about Ȼl97 million against the government, which it is struggling to deal with.


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