The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) has told the Ad-hoc committee of Parliament that an amount of US$100.7 million which was realised from the lifting of 944,164 barrels of oil in the Jubilee fields and Anadarko CWTP Company in the first half of 2022 was not paid into the Petroleum Holding Fund (PHF).
But the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) has disagreed with PIAC’s position and absolved the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta of wrongdoing
Appearing before the committee in Parliament today (November 17, 2022), PIAC stated that the Petroleum Holding Company Limited (JOHL), a 100 per cent subsidiary of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), rather paid the money into an offshore account.
The proceeds were accrued from the seven per cent interest the GNPC acquired from Jubilee Fields and Anadarko Company assets for $119 million in April 1, 2021.
That, the committee, said breached section 6 of the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815) and section 7 of the Petroleum Revenue Management (Amendment) Act, 2015 (Act 893).
Both Act 815 and Act 893 state that revenues accruing to the Republic from the direct or indirect participation of the Republic shall first and foremost be paid into the Petroleum Holding Fund.
Losing legitimate revenues
Testifying as a witness before the Ad-hoc committee in Parliament today, the Vice Chairman of PIAC, Nasir Alfa Mohammed, said “Mr Chairman, we have established that they have not paid that quantum of money, which ought to have formed part of petroleum revenues of Ghana, into the Petroleum Holding Fund and in our view that is contrary to the law.
“This money ought to have been deposited in the holding fund and not in any other account. Our consideration is that if those money did not come to the PHF, the state will be denied legitimate revenues from petroleum.
Our position as a committee is that lifting, whether it is lifted by a 100 per cent of GNPC or not, ought to come first into the Petroleum Holding Fund from where disbursement can be made for whatever reason,” he stated.
Mr Mohammed was testifying response of the proponents of the censure motion against the Finance Minister on ground of illegal payment of revenues into offshore account in flagrant violation of article 176 of the Constitution.
Mr Mohammed told the committee that in its annual report from January to December 29021, PIAC reported that in line with GNPC strategy to increase its stake in viable oil blocks, it acquired a seven per cent interest from Occidental Petroleum from Anadarko Company in respect of the company’s deepwater Tano Cape Three Point assets for $119 million effective April 1, 2021.
The acquisition, which was to be transferred to GNPC’s subsidiary, Explorco, translated to 5.95 per cent and 6 per cent production interest in the Jubilee and TEN fields respectively for GNPC, he said.
Following that acquisition, he said 100 per cent of acquisition was later ceded to GNPC subsidiary, JOHL which made its first oil lifting of 944,164 barrels of oil in the Jubilee field in the first half of 2022.
With an amount of $100.7 million being realised from the sale of the crude, the revenue was not paid into the PHF as required by law.
“Mr Chairman, it was the consideration of the committee that contrary to section 6 (e) of Act 815, capital gains tax was not assessed and collected by the Ghana Revenue Authority in the sale of the seven per cent interest by AnaDarko Company in the Jubilee and TEN fields in 2021.
“We wrote to both the GRA and the Ministry of Finance for responses on these issues and in its written response to PIAC on the matter, the GRA referred the committee to the Ministry of Finance, indicating that the ministry was exclusively in charge of the transaction.
And the Ministry of Finance, in turn, referred the committee to the GRA for answers,” Mr Mohammed said.
He said for the purposes of disclosure, the GNPC referred the committee to an advice by the Attorney-General Department purporting to okay such transaction in the nature and manner the GNPC dealt with it.
“Mr Chairman, we are happy to say that we did not come to this conclusion without recourse to that advice,” he added.
PIAC got it wrong – GNPC
Also appearing before the committee, the Deputy Chief Executive of the GNPC in-charge of Commerce, Strategy and Business Development, Joseph Dadzie, said PIAC got it all wrong.
First, he said it was not GNPC that set up JOHL but rather Anadarko Company.
He said JOHL was set up because Anadarko decided to sell its stakes in the Ghana assets and reached an agreement with KOSMOS to purchase it.
Ghana government, he said, then made a submission that it wanted part of that stake and after negotiation “we agreed on seven per cent”.
With strict timeliness for the consummation of that transaction and the need for GNPC to go through the approval process, Mr Dadzie said Anadarko decided to sell JOHL, carving out the seven per cent for the GNPC to acquire later on.
“When we got the necessary approvals and we were ready to buy JOHL; so, the structure of the transaction was not a GNPC defined structure but the seller (Anadarko Company).
“We did not buy participating stake but we rather bought the company which held seven per cent in Jubilee and TEIN,” he said.
Finance Minister did nothing wrong – GNPC
On where GNPC got the funds to buy the JOHL, he said GNPC wrote to the Ministry of Finance to advance it some loan towards the purchase JOHL, obtaining approval from the ministers of Energy and Finance.
On the quantities of oil lifted by JOHL so far, he said: “We have lifted in total $153 million.”
He said the money was paid to JOHL and expressed disagreement with PIAC that the money should have been paid into Petroleum Holding Fund.
“JOHL is 100 per cent subsidiary of GNPC and we believe it is a company registered under the Company Act and obviously the terms and condition as well as the constitution of JOHL is governed Company Act, not Petroleum Revenue Managing Act.
“For that reason, 100 per cent of that revenue cannot be paid into the PHF. The JOHL must operate and if at the end of the day it declares profit and the directors decide dividends must be paid, that money is paid to GNPC which will pay that into PHF,” he said.
Responding to the question which of the allegations related to the Finance Minister, Mr Dadzie said: “As far as JOHL is concerned, the Finance Minister is not responsible for the revenues.”
“Obviously, we have to, at the end of the day, submit our financials and pay whatever asset tax to GRA. In 2021, JOHL paid GH₵17 million to the GRA as tax on its operations.
“So, as far revenue is concerned I do not think the Finance Minister has any direct control of revenue,” he said.
Asked if the $100 million was paid into an offshore account, Mr Dadzie said “Yes, it was into an account at the Ghana International Bank in London by the buyers of the crude