The Sole Commissioner of the Judgement Debt Commission, Mr Justice Yaw Apau, has questioned the basis for which the Attorney General’s Department had to hire the services of two local law firms to advise it in a settlement case between the then Ministry of Roads and Transportation and Sarroch Grandulati/GELFI Joint Ventures.
He also questioned why the two firms, AB and David Law and Lithur, Brew and Co., had to be paid in dollars ($112,700 ) when the settlement sum to Sarroch Grandulati/GELFI Joint Ventures was in cedis (GH¢3,400,000).
“The fact is that the settlement was in cedis, so how come the legal fee was in dollars?”
“I am surprised because these are two Ghanaian law firms that advised the Attorney General to come to some settlement. The settlement is in cedis and they are paid in dollars, that’s what I don’t understand,” Justice Apau said at the sitting of the commission in Accra yesterday.
This was when a Chief State Attorney, Ms Dorothy Afriyie Ansah, appeared before the commission.
Ms Ansah told the commission that the figures from the claimants were in euros and dollars.
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When Justice Apau asked her whether the settlement in cedis was ever changed into dollars or euros, she responded in the affirmative and added that an equivalent of GH¢2,300,000 was supposed to be paid in euros.
“The understanding was that they were going to apply the exchange rate agreed in the contract to convert same in the figure arrived at.” she explained.
Again Mr Apau wondered why the Attorney General’s Office with all its lawyers, Chief State Attorneys, Principal State Attorneys, had to contract two legal firms just to settle an issue.
Justice Apau again said while there was no indication or record that Sarroch had been paid, there were records that the lawyers had been paid.
Chief Director, Ministry of Finance
The Chief Director of the Ministry of Finance, Major (retd) Mahama S. Tara, who was the first to appear in the same matter, confirmed the payment to the two law firms.
He said although the Attorney General’s instructions in a letter dated October 29, 2010, was in dollars ($112,700), the ministry converted it at the prevailing rate to arrive at GH¢161,420.21.
“My Lord the Attorney General’s instruction was in dollars but we converted it at the prevailing rate to arrive at the figure quoted,” he said.
Explanation of contract
Next to appear was the Director of Bridges of the Ghana Roads and Highways, Mr Owusu Sekyere Antwi, who explained that in 2004, the government awarded a contract to Sarroch Grandulati/GELFI Joint Ventures, for the construction of the Asafo Market UTC Roundabout Interchange in Kumasi.
“The consultants were Messrs HAG Consult/MDC Joint Venture. The contract had a few problems here and there. There was some design changes and somewhere along the line the consultancy agreement was no longer extended and the government at that time decided to form a team with the Ghana Highway Authority and the Department of Urban Roads to take over supervision from the consultants,” he said.
At the time the contract was signed in 2004, he said, the value was GH¢7,356,760.23.
Mr Antwi said the take-over by the Ghana Highway Authority and the Department of Urban Roads happened in 2006, adding that the project dragged on due to design changes, among other things.
Sitting was adjourned to September 9, 2013.