EOCO Probes KT Hammond Over Drillship Saga

The Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) is to investigate former Deputy Energy Minister, KT Hammond, for his role in the sale of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation’s (GNPC’s) drillship to pay off a judgement debt.

This decision is contained in a government White Paper on the judgement debt report submitted by the Judgement Debt Sole Commission headed by now Supreme Court Justice Yaw Appau.

Government wants Mr Hammond to explain how he disbursed about $900,000 balance accruing from the sale of the ship.

The Commission Report On Drillship
The report chronicles the circumstances surrounding the sale of the ship and how the resulting $3.5 million balance was allegedly mismanaged.

KT Hammond, who is also Adansi Asokwa MP, was in 2001 sent by President John Agyekum Kufuor to Paris and London to amicably resolve the $47 million default judgement debt with Societe Generale.

Mr Hammond was responsible for convincing the company to accept the $14 million out-of-court settlement instead of insisting on the $47 million judgement debt.

To raise the money, KT Hammond was authorised to sell a GNPC asset.

The Acting Managing Director of the GNPC, Dr Ofori Quaah, was not given room to operate.

He was purportedly coerced into signing a Power of Attorney prepared at the Attorney-General’s office to empower KT Hammond to sell the GNPC’s marine asset – the drillship, ‘Discoverer 511′.

Hon KT Hammond sold the drillship for $24 million and used $19.5 million to pay off the debt.

He also gave $1 million to Constant & Constant, the London solicitors who had represented Ghana in the drillship sale negotiations.

Out of this amount, the London solicitors were to take $100,000 for their services and keep the balance of $900,000.00 to cater for the future debts of GNPC to other creditors.

KT Hammond handed over the remaining $3.5 million to Ghana’s High Commission in London.

The Judgement Debt report condemned KT Hammond for keeping GNPC out of the know on the $3.5 million part proceeds of the sale of a GNPC property.

The Appau Commission’s conclusion is that ‘The totality of these developments raises strong suspicions that the whole transaction involving the sale of the drillship ‘Discoverer 511′ is shrouded in mystery.’

The White Paper has therefore directed EOCO ‘to investigate the mandate, authority and/or basis of Hon KT Hammond’s disbursement of the $900,000.00 to the Law Firm ‘Constant and Constant’ to cater for future debts of GNPC to other creditors.’

No Big Deal
Mr Hammond said he was ready to cooperate with EOCO.

Speaking on Citi Fm’s ‘Eyewitness News’ yesterday, he said ‘I will cooperate with EOCO in their investigations. It is no big deal.’

He explained that the Kufuor administration took the decision to sell the ship because the GNPC at the time was so indebted that the only way to save it was to sell the ship.

‘We took over the drillship six months into Kufuor’s administration. GNPC was bankrupt. GNPC owed every company.’

He said following the debt, the ship was arrested in the waters of Oman ‘on the orders of Sociéte Generale because Tsatsu Tsikata owed them. Tsatsu Tsikata had given them the ship literally. Tsatsu had mortgaged it to them; they had the papers, they had the authority. He had collateralised the ship to his hedging activities.’

KT Hammond explained that the purchasers upon realising that the ship, through GNPC, owed a lot of people, insisted that an amount be set aside to defray the debts, as a result of which the $900,000 was agreed on.


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