Tsatsu Tsikata, a former CEO of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), has given a vivid account of what led to his five-year imprisonment on a charge of wilfully causing financial loss to the state under the erstwhile John Agyekum Kufuor administration without a completed trial at the Accra Fast Track High Court.
According to him, after Kufuor took over power from Jerry John Rawlings in 2001, the NPP administration wanted to throw overboard the things that Rawlings had been doing.
Due to Tsatsu Tsikata’s closeness to the late former president and having been at the helm of affairs at the GNPC, he, Tsikata, became a direct target.
“Frankly, I could see from the beginning of 2001 the determination, by hook or by crook to find something against me… And that is what led to all these exciting legal cases…,” Tsatsu Tsikata narrated to KSM on the KSM show on Pan African TV, Tuesday.
He continued: “I went to the Supreme Court and the Fast-Track Court was declared unconstitutional. They changed the panel and added two more panels [members] to form the review. In those days, there were people criticizing the judges who made the decision in my favour.
In fact, you should go and listen to what President Akufo-Addo who was the Attorney-General at that time [said]; you should see some of the things he said about the judges who gave the decision in my favour. But there was a determination to overturn that decision so Justice Afreh was appointed. And another judge, Justice Lamptey, was added to the panel and so from a 5-4 in my favour, it became 6-5 against me.
“I was taken to a series of courts; in one case, they withdrew it and then they took it to another court: it was thrown out and they re-arraigned…there was a determination. In the end, they got what they wanted by having me on June 18, 2008, thrown into jail.”
Tsikata explained that his charge of wilfully causing financial loss to the state was in connection to a transaction that was introduced to GNPC by Merchant Bank as the financial advisors of GNPC.
“They brought a project which involved also the International Financial Corporation and we ended up as a corporate body getting involved in guaranteeing the company that was in that project,” he said.
This project, Tsatsu Tsikata explained, was a cocoa project and the connection with the oil, he explained, “was because all the financing of oil imports of Ghana was based on foreign exchange from cocoa and we were in a situation in 1982, 1983 where cocoa production was declining…”
He explained that the day he was jailed, he went to the Accra Fast-Track High Court to take a date because the trial had been postponed for some time and that the judge had not indicated that she was going to pronounce judgement.
“The trial wasn’t done, there was a matter in the Supreme Court which had to be resolved the following week which was Wednesday. The Supreme Court had set that day to decide whether the IFC [International Finance Corporation] could be called as a witness in the case. And I go to court, the judge hasn’t sat for one and half years because she kept postponing… and suddenly I go to court, the judge said the day of judgement is here; she ends up sending me to prison,” Tsatsu Tsikata recounted with laughter.
Justice Henrietta Abban, handed the sentence to Tsatsu Tsikata at about 11 am.
Tsatsu was charged with three counts of wilfully causing financial loss of GH¢ 230,000 (2.3 billion old Ghana cedis) to the State through a loan he, on behalf of GNPC, guaranteed for Valley Farms, a private company, and another count of misapplying public property.
He was found guilty on all four counts and sentenced to five years on each, with the sentences running concurrently.
Tsatsu, a lawyer, had attended court without his usual counsel in the case, Professor Emmanuel Victor Oware Dankwa, who he said had travelled. He was therefore seeking an adjournment from the court.
Justice Abban, however, asked him to represent himself, being a lawyer.
After the judgement, Tsatsu Tsikata served notice he was applying for bail and appealing against his conviction and sentencing, and spent some amount of time filing his appeal processes at the court registry.