Member of parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has disclosed that the land chosen by government for the establishment of the new Bank of Ghana (BoG) head office is a subject of an ongoing litigation.
According to him, painstaking parliamentary oversight has unraveled how due to the “terrible choice” of the “problematic” land, the suffering Ghanaian taxpayer by very conservative estimates, would have to be preparing to pay in excess of a mind boggling GHS400million in compensation.
He revealed that when President Akufo-Addo and “MisGovernor” Addison settled on the land in issue, they knew it was not a prudent and patriotic thing to do.
“Today’s exposé focuses attention on another aspect of this ignominious project – an aspect President Akufo-Addo and MisGovernor Addison would rather wish remains hidden from the Ghanaian people. This hitherto well-kept secret relates to the choice of land for the ongoing sleazy BoG Head Office project. Ghanaians will be both shocked and outraged to discover that the parcel of land recklessly chosen for the palatial head office project is land which is the subject of an ongoing epic litigation.”Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
Justifying his reasons for condemning the land choice, Mr Ablakwa stated that both the President and Govenor must have known that a company known as ITALCONSTRUCT INTERNATIONAL LIMITED had secured a credit facility of GHS19,303,800.00 from Ivory Finance Company Limited on 10th April 2013, which is tied to the land.
The agreed terms, he noted, was an interest of 5.5% per month on the said sum till date of final payment and penal interest of 8% per month on the outstanding amount till date of final payment.
Additionally, Mr Ablakwa explained that as condition for the loan, ITALCONSTRUCT was to present a credit guarantee, which it subsequently presented guarantee bonds from SIC.
Following this, he indicated that SIC issued two bonds – Guarantee Bond Number P/100/41/4102/181 issued on December 17, 2012, in the sum of GHS8,273,057.00 and Guarantee Bond No P/100/04/4102/2013/49 in the sum of GHS19,303,800.00, which ITALCONSTRUCT defaulted completely.
“Ivory Finance then took legal action against ITALCONSTRUCT and SIC for a recovery of all monies owed them including interest and penal rates. Ivory Finance attached the BoG new head office land in issue when they went to court. The land is owned by SIC.”Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
Furthermore, Mr Ablakwa stated that Ivory Finance secured a consent judgment on 25th November 2014, which ITALCONSTRUCT agreed to pay GHS91,918,418.35.
Instructively, he highlighted that the Consent Judgement has never been set aside.
“Further thorough investigations reveal that in August 2019, the Bank of Ghana being fully aware of the ongoing litigation and the consent judgement approached both managements of SIC and Ivory Finance and made an offer of GHS100million to both entities so BoG could purchase the land for their head office project. Interestingly, BoG did not pursue their offer and rather placed Ivory Finance under receivership.”Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
Moreover, the North Tongu legislator revealed that deep throat sources within the Bank of Ghana have told him that but for the interest of Ivory Finance in the land which BoG had coveted for years, Ivory Finance would not have been targeted for collapse. This, he indicated, raises legitimate concerns about the credibility and fairness of the entire so-called financial sector clean-up which was spearheaded by BoG.
That notwithstanding, he underscored that Ivory Finance has been in court against the BoG challenging the BoG’s decision to close it down, with judgment expected in November this year.
“Meanwhile, documents I have reviewed show that CDH Holdings, the parent company of Ivory Finance had settled that liability so this indebtedness was not on the books of Ivory Finance even before it was placed under receivership. CDH HOLDINGS has since been pursuing ITALCONSTRUCT and SIC for recovery of the loan they extended to them.”Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
The ongoing fierce litigation, in the words of Mr Ablakwa, has developed many bizarre layers with SIC going as far as accusing its former Managing Director, Doris Awo Nkani of fraudulently guaranteeing the bonds to ITALCONSTRUCT- the first female MD of SIC being subsequently dismissed.
Issues on BoG head office land
In another quite recent Supreme Court decision in 2018, Mr Ablakwa noted that the apex court led by former Chief Justice, Anin Yeboah criticized the high and appeal courts for ignoring the issue of fraud and ordered a total retrial, which is ongoing.
In light of this, Mr Ablakwa expressed that President Akufo-Addo should simply have stayed away from the “murky and toxic land”, particularly as all these matters were and are still pending in court.
However, he emphasized that President Akufo-Addo has rather decided to carry out compulsory acquisition of the same land by instructing his Lands and Natural Resources Minister at the time – Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, to execute an Executive Instrument (E.I. 304) dated 12th October 2020, although there is no indication that the parties have received prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation.
“The sheer lawlessness by the President and his agents at the BoG is incredible. It is therefore not surprising that some lawyers on this matter are initiating steps to enforce the rights of their clients under the Ghanaian Constitution. Based on the Consent Judgement which has not been set aside, the interest and penalties which have accrued and factoring inflation — experts confirm that a combined compensation will not be less than a staggering GHS400million.”Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
Meanwhile, Mr Ablakwa advised that President Akufo-Addo and Governor Addison should have avoided the parcel of land and opted for a litigation-free land to protect the already battered public purse.
He noted that avoiding that “extremely hazardous” piece of land would also have communicated respect for the judiciary and regard for the rule of law just like the example of the NDC Caucus in Parliament suspending today’s protest, pending the final ruling of the court on Friday.
“Obviously, the government and BoG’s recklessness has not been limited to the skyrocketing cost of the building. This egregious indiscretion on the choice of land brings bitter memories of President Akufo-Addo’s insistence on demolition of valuable properties to pave way for the construction of his cathedral when Ghana is not in short supply of unencumbered land.”Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa