It was full of drama, confrontations, and occasional legal scuffles when the former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu, appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament to defend her decision to order the payment of the controversial 94 million euros to Construction Pioneers in 2009.
She, took a swipe at the committee, chaired by Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, for the manner in which it had conducted its enquiry into the CP matter, saying that the public hearings by the committee were conducted in a manner that had criminalized and denigrate her reputation.
“I have been a lawyer for the past 30 years, and was duely vetted as an Attorney-General by Parliament. I find it unfortunate that some members will criminalize my reputation over this matter,” she stated.
The former A-G, in a rather bold and confident demeanor, said her decision to enter into the settlement agreement was “taken in the supreme interest of the state”.
Mrs Mould-Iddrisu, who stormed before the committee with a team of legal advisors, headed by former Chief of Staff, Nana Ato Dadzie, backed by a group of supporter, said her decision was justifiable because it saved the country from incurring serious debts.
According to her, the country’s principal debt to CP at the time she assumed office in February 2009, stood at 162 million euro, with a daily interest of 12,700 euros, and added that “I went ahead to settle because it was my responsibility to settle. In law, if you fail to settle, it can even be described as a misconduct.”
Mrs Mould Iddrisu said she negotiated for a reduction of the principal amount of 162 million euros to 94 million euros, and noted that the German construction firm also decided to cancel all the daily 12,700 euros daily interests which had accumulated on the principal.
Before taken that decision, she said she sought advise from legal technocrats from the A-G’s department who had been following the case since 2003.
She said even though she was not bounded by law to seek approval from cabinet before intering into the settlement agreement, she wrote a letter to Cabinet to inform it of her decision and Cabinet responded to that letter acknowledging her decision.
When the committee asked her of the alleged inflation of the rate of the certificates of payments submitted by CP, Mrs Mould-Iddrisu responded that “whether or not there was loading, offloading or reloading, it is undisputed that the loaded contract was never proceeded with. No payment was made under the contract on the basis of the loading. The loaded rate was offloaded”
She said the decision to settle was reached following a meeting involving technocrats from the A-G’s department, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, among other state institutions, and debunked claims that she conspired with CP to dupe the nation.
“This is the price that the nation has to pay when we don’t respect our obligation. I am not condemning any government. The Attorney General has to always come in and clean their mess,” she said.