Gabby Otchere-Darko exhumes Akufo-Addo’s failures In PDS Scandal

Kevin Taylor and Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko Kevin Taylor and Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko

The Power Distribution Services (PDS) scandal, which saw notable family members and friends of President Nana Akufo-Addo capturing 51percent shares of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), is making the headlines again, with the failures of the President on corruption visibly revealed. This follows, an Accra High Court -Commercial Court 10, presided over by Justice Jennifer Abena Dadzie, award of damages of one million cedis against Kelvin Taylor, for defamatory statements he made against President Akufo-Addo's cousin, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko.But the cost was awarded in favour of the Senior Partner of Accra-based corporate law firm, Africa Legal Associates (ALA), in the absence of the social media commentator, who is based in the US.

Kevin Taylor, a card-bearing member of New Patriotic Party (NPP) has been a consistent critic of Otchere-Darko's activities in the government, President Akufo-Addo's performance and corruption in the NPP government.The PDS deal was described as one of the biggest scandals in the history of the country until the Agyapa Royalties scandal, which is to trade 41percent of Ghana's "devalued" shares on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) and the London Stock Exchange (LSE) for the private market through the offshore company, whose directors remain unknown.

Kevin Taylor, accused Gabby Otchere-Darko of profiting from the PDS transaction, which was incidentally abrogated. He had played an audio recording purported to be a conversation between Gabby Otchere-Darko and Philip Ayensu, owner of the X-men Barbershop at East Legon, who served as the Board Chairman of PDS until the consortium collapsed. They were said to be negotiating a deal purported to be PDS. Part of the audio tape, also had a voice purported to be that of President Akufo-Addo's younger brother, Edward "Bumpty" Akufo-Addo.

Kevin Taylor, also accused Mr Otchere-Darko, who has strong links with London, of owning a property in the plushest part of London, Mayfair, with insinuations that the lawyer bought the property with proceeds from PDS or a similar transaction of a questionable nature. Gabby denied owning a property in Mayfair, Central London.

In October 2019, Gabby Otchere-Darko directed his lawyer, Kissi Agyebeng of Cromwell Grey LLP to sue Kevin Taylor in respect of such defamatory statements made on Kevin Taylor's social media broadcast, "With All Due Respect" and on his Facebook Wall.

Due to the fact that Kevin Taylor is known to operate from the United States of America, on October 28, 2019, the High Court in Accra granted an application by the lawyers of Gabby Otchere-Darko to issue a writ of summons and serve notice of same out of the jurisdiction on Kevin Taylor.

The Order of the Court specified that the notice of the writ should be served on Kevin Taylor, by expedited courier service, DHL through his own indicated address.

However, the DHL courier service could not serve Kevin Taylor at his own indicated address.

The courier service tried all it could and even called Kevin Taylor on his own indicated telephone number but he denied being the person on the other end of the line. Checks made by the lawyers confirmed otherwise.

Mr Agyebeng, prayed the court to vary its earlier order for the notice of the writ against Kevin Taylor to be served out of the jurisdiction.

The High Court, Accra being persuaded by the argument of lawyer Kissi Agyebeng, on 16 March 2020 ordered that, in the alternative, the notice of the writ be posted on the Facebook wall of Kevin Taylor and also same forwarded to the WhatsApp number of Kevin Taylor.

Kevin Taylor, even upon service of the court processes on him, neither entered an appearance nor filed a statement of defence to substantiate the allegations he made against Gabby Otchere-Darko.

The lawyers for Gabby Otchere-Darko complied with all the orders of the court and even filed witness statements to support their case.

Kevin Taylor is said to have resorted to making disparaging comments on Facebook against an associate of Kissi Agyebeng who effected the service of the processes on him.

On October 12, 2020, Gabby Otchere-Darko mounted the witness box and gave his evidence. He then called Samuel Attah-Mensah, the former Vice President of the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association, to testify on his behalf.

But the Court, on Tuesday gave judgment in favour of Mr. Otchere-Darko. The court found that Kevin Taylor had, without any basis, whatsoever, made very serious defamatory comments against Gabby Otchere-Darko.

His lawyers did not specify an amount of damages in the writ. However, the Court, in its wisdom, awarded damages in the sum of One Million cedis in the favour of the plaintiff, due to the seriousness of the defamatory matter published by Kevin Taylor.

In giving her short judgment, Tuesday, October 27, 2020 Justice Jennifer Dadzie added that the full judgment will be available a week later, on Tuesday, November 3.Cronyism, naked greed and negligence under Akufo-Addo government led to the PDS mess when NPP members and close relatives of the President himself, decided to take over GHS 22 billion worth of assets of ECG and run it under a private sector arrangement.Firstly, the government and Millennium Development Authority (MIDA) changed the precondition of a Bank guarantee into an Insurance Guarantee at a meeting at the Jubilee House on 19th February, 2019 as captured in the FTI report. The Meeting was held in the office of the Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta. Secondly, the government's failure to conduct the necessary due diligence on the supposed Insurance guarantee, which was provided by PDS before handing over the GHS 22 Billion assets of ECG to them. A Ken Ofori Atta's Termination letter, said that even though ECG did not receive the requested confirmation and proof of due authorization by Al Koot by the transfer date, ECG was compelled to confirm acceptance of the Demand Guarantee despite the advice by Hunton and Williams LLP, Transaction Advisors to the deal, "Out of a desire to ensure the occurrence of the Transfer by March 1st 2019.Thirdly, on the blind side of Parliament, the Akufo-Addo government illegally allowed the original partners of the Meralco-led consortium (PDS) to form and transfer their respective shares to SPVs with the intent of isolating themselves from any potential risk and liability.Fourthly, a regular injection of US$100 million which was to come from PSD consortium annually was in abeyance as both the Ghanaian local consortium and the foreign partners could not provide the money. The local consortium with 51% were TG Energy Solutions Limited (TG), a lead local consortium sponsor with 18 per cent, Santa Baron Ventures Limited (Santa), a local technical lead with 13 per cent, GTS Engineering Services Limited (GTS), a local financial lead with 10 per cent and TBK Ghana Limited (TBK), a local financial sponsor also with 10 per cent.The remaining 49 per cent shares are for two foreign companies, Manila Electric Company Limited (Meralco), a Filipino company with 30 per cent shares and Aenergia, an Angolan company with 19 per cent shares. The two foreign companies are the Technical Lead for the Consortium and by extension PDS. In the confusing situation, the government through the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori Atta wrote to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of America to notify them of the termination of the PDS Concession and steps it intends to take to replace PDS with another concessionaire.There was also another letter by Ken Ofori-Atta dated 27th March, 2019 in which he sought to restructure the Ghanaian shareholding in PDS with allegation that he was doing so for the benefit of his cronies.In the ensuing melee President Akufo-Addo made a quick trip to Angola and France and the secret meetings he held with EDF and AEnergia SA respectively.As a result of the maneuvers employed by those interested in the ECG concession, the US government withheld its 500 million dollar grant to Ghana meant to turn the fortunes of the state-owned ECG around.Both President Akufo-Addo and his cousin Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, promised to address the nation but it has been over a year and nothing has been heard from them. A promised audit finding into the stewardship of the PDS has not seen the light of day.