BoG Officials Appear Before Judgment Debt Chief

The Commission of Enquiry that is investigating the payment of judgment debts yesterday started taking evidence from officials of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), the outfit in charge of effecting the payments.

Three top officials- the heads of Foreign and Local Banking respectively as well as the Head of Legal Department- were at the commission’s sitting to testify.

The Commission of Enquiry into the payment of judgment debt 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 in what has now come to be termed as judgment debts (JD).

Notable among them were payments made to CP (€94 million) and the GH¢51.2million given to the self-styled National Democratic Congress (NDC) financier, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, which many believed were dubious and frivolous.

Led in evidence by Dometi Kofi Sorkpor, the Head of Foreign Banking, Patrick Atta Opoku, who was the first to mount the witness’ box, said although they were able to do some research, not all the documents covering payments on behalf of the government from 1992 to date were available.

“Due to the volumes of documents involved, we will have to retrieve them from the archives,” he told Justice Yaw Apau of the Court of Appeal sitting as sole-commissioner.

He tendered in evidence the list of judgment debt payments into foreign accounts from 2002 to 2011 and added that “even with these, we cannot say we have exhausted the payments for those years.”

Mr. Opoku further tendered in evidence a list of garnishee orders which he said “could crystallized into judgment debts,” adding, “These are payment orders against government accounts held at the bank.”

He said that all the garnishee orders were in cedis except two in foreign currency, one of which was in respect of the Isofoton case.

He again tendered in evidence all the letters from the Controller and Accountant-General authorizing the BoG on judgment debt payments.

He said that even if the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning wrote to them asking them to make payments, they sought clearance from the Controller and Accountant-General before taking any action.

“We do not take steps to process payments if the Controller and Accountant-General has not given us the green light. We take instructions only from them.”

Mr. Opoku told the commission that after effecting payments, they notified the Controller and Accountant-General which had issued the orders for the payment to be made.

He said that all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) had what he called sub consolidated accounts which were likened to an expenditure account.

When Leslie Akrong, Head of Domestic Banking, took his turn, he told the commission that his outfit also received payments instructions from the Controller and Accountant-General and not the Ministry of Finance.

He said that the Controller and Accountant-General assigned reason to every payment order and which account the fund should be transferred to.

He tendered in evidence the domestic bank transfer advice and added that the central bank only dealt with accounts of state institutions and not any private accounts.

He said that no authorization for payment could come from outside the consolidated fund, adding, “We make sure we stick to the bank transfer advice.”

Later, the Head of Legal Department of the central bank, Mrs. Caroline Otoo, explained the garnishee order to the commission when Justice Apau sought further clarifications.

She told the commission that it was the duty of the bank to hold on to monies that were affected by garnishee orders until all legal wrangling was solved.

The officials later asked the commission for at least two months to gather more evidence on judgment debt payments, which the court granted.

The commission asked them to appear before it on April 15, 2013.

By William Yaw Owusu

Posted by on Feb 19 2013. Filed under African News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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