Societe Generale Has No Record Of $19.5m Judgment Debt

Officials of Societe Generale have told the Judgment Debt Commission that both their offices in Ghana and France do not have any record on the $19.5 million judgment debt government claimed it paid to the company. Government in 2001 sold an oil drilling ship belonging to the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation at $24 million to service several debts owed by the institution. $19.5m out of the said amount was paid to Societe Generale as judgment debt. Former deputy Energy Minister K.T. Hammond who led the sale of the ship said $1m was used to pay for the services of government lawyers and the remaining $3.5 which he claimed to have paid to the Ministry of Finance has remained a mystery the Commission is yet to unraveled: the Finance Ministry said it cannot trace document covering the transaction. Moreover , Societe Generale that received the bulk of proceeds emanating from the sale of the ship, Tuesday told the Judgment Debt Commission chaired by Justice Yaw Appau that the company has no knowledge about the payment of $19.5m to it by the Government of Ghana. Joy News' Joseph Oppong Gakpo who sat through today's sitting reports that Managing Director of Societe Generale (SG) Ghana Limited, Mr Gilbert Hie said the company came into existence in 2003 and has no idea about the payment made in 2001. But after receiving the subpoena, he said, the company contacted the bank's legal department at their headquarters in Paris, France, but they also replied that they cannot see any document on the $19.5 million judgment payment to the company. Mr Hie explained that by French law, such documents are supposed to be kept for a maximum of 10 years, beyond it, the law does not require them to continue keeping them, and was therefore not surprised the documents could not be found. However, the lawyer for the Commission, Dometi Sokpor contested the claim, insisting that by practice they should have copies of the documents in their archives. The Commissioner Justice Appau sounding frustrated about the development indicated that the Commission seems to hit the snag as far as their investigation is concerned. But Mr Dometi Sokpor insisted that the Commission will not end there but would ensure that it gets to the bottom of the case even if it demands that they invite officials of the bank in France to appear before the commission.