March 1, 2012 (Front Page)
THE Commercial Division of the Fast Track High Court has granted permission to the state to introduce allegations of fraud against a businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
The court in effect has given permission to the state to lead evidence to the effect that Woyome made fraudulent claims and in the process succeeded in obtaining a default judgement and subsequently received a payment of GHC51.2 million.
However, the court, presided over by Ms. Justice Barbara F. Ackah-Yensu, awarded GHC2,000 against the state in favour of Woyome because it took the state more than a year to file the amended writ of summons and statement of claim.
According to the Attorney-General’s Department, Woyome obtained the judgement debt through fraudulent means and for that reason, prayed the court to allow it to amend its writ of summons and statement of claim to include the element of fraud against Woyome.
The A-G is currently in court seeking an order for the refund of the judgement debt of GH¢51,283,480.59 paid to Woyome because it was procured by fraudulent means.
Citing numerous legal authorities to buttress the court’s decision, Ms. Justice Ackah-Yensu held that the court took into account the public interest in the administration of justice before granting the request.
She said “there is no reason why I should take a contrary view because because the defendant/respondent was not opposed to the introduction of fraud into the matter” adding that “the issue of fraud can be raised anytime in proceedings.”
On the issue of the Constitutionality raised by the Attorney-General which stated that the alleged contract between Woyome’s company and government did not receive Parliamentary approval thereby rendering it null and void, the court held that it would be delving deep into the matter if it ruled on that.
The court was of the view that for the matter to be complete, effective and finally determined to avoid multiplicity of issues, it was important for it to allow the state to amend its writ of summons and statement of claim.
It accordingly gave the Attorney-General’s Department three days to file its amended writ of summons and statement of claim while it gave Woyome seven days to respond.
The case was adjourned to March 26, 2012 for hearing.
Woyome was absent in court.
Among the reliefs contained in the writ filed at the Registry of the Commercial Division of the High Court, Accra, on Monday, January 16, 2012 is a declaration that the terms of settlement filed on June 4, 2010, to the effect that Mr Woyome should be paid the sum in three equal instalments of GH¢17,094,495.53, were procured by mistake on the part of the A-G and due to fraudulent misrepresentation by Mr Woyome.
Additionally, the A-G is seeking a declaration to set aside the consent judgement of the court on the grounds that Mr Woyome had no contract with the government and consequently lacked a cause of action and the capacity to make the said claim in any court of competent jurisdiction.
According to the A-G, all the agreements between the Government of Ghana and Vamed/Waterville (Waterville as an assignee of Vamed) were null, void and of no legal effect whatsoever, in accordance with Article 181 (5) of the Constitution, to have grounded any cause of action in Mr Woyome or any claimant pursuant to such a contract.
The A-G is seeking a declaration that all the processes filed and proceedings involving Mr Woyome and the A-G were null and void because Mr Woyome lacked the legal capacity to institute the suit, thereby rendering the consent judgement a nullity for the same reasons.
The A-G, in his proposed amended statement of claim, said he had now discovered new and more documents and information from diverse sources involved in the transaction between the government and Waterville that disclosed that the claims by Mr Woyome were fraudulent.
He averred that on May 4, 2005, the then Deputy Minister of Finance signed a letter of introduction which was given to Mr Woyome which stated that the government did not bear responsibility for any liabilities that would arise from the transactions.
Subsequently, following a change in government, Mr Woyome, knowing the contents of the letter and the disclaimer in it, knowingly and fraudulently misrepresented to the A-G that he was entitled to his claim.
The particulars of fraud indicated that Mr Woyome, in making his misrepresentation to the A-G, knew that his claim was untrue and, indeed, intended to deceive the A-G to authorise payment for the sum he claimed when he knew that the government was not liable to pay the sum to him.
Furthermore, the A-G said it was upon those misrepresentations that the government was liable to pay the two per cent for financial engineering that it authorised payments in several instalments to Mr Woyome and that he colluded with Waterville to write to the A-G misrepresenting and supporting the claims when both Mr Woyome and Waterville knew that Mr Woyome did not have any claims against the government.
It said some time in 2005, the government won the bid to host the Africa Cup of Nations football tournament (CAN 2008) and the award of the hosting rights to Ghana required that the country rehabilitated and refurbished its football stadia and other sporting facilities, including the Ohene Djan and the Baba Yara stadia.
The A-G averred that the government initiated a procurement process for the award of the contract to rehabilitate the stadia but cancelled the procurement process before it was completed.
According to the A-G, Waterville made various protests to the government on the purported abrogation of the procurement process and, in consequence of the protests, the government and Waterville entered into negotiations and settled their differences by signing a memorandum of understanding between them, dated November 30, 2005.
In that settlement, the parties agreed that the government would award the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium and El-Wak Stadium, both in Accra, on a turnkey basis to Waterville.
The A-G said in all the transactions, from the invitation to tender, the concurrent approval and purported abrogation, among others, the government dealt directly with Waterville or its accredited agent and later with Vamed and its accredited agents as assignees of the rights of Vamed.
He said the government had never entered into any contract with Mr Woyome in any form whatsoever in respect of the stadia projects or at all, and there was no contract on which Mr Woyome could have maintained any cause of action in the court or any court against the government among others.
In his amended statement of defence and counter-claim, Mr Woyome also averred that the letter of May 4, 2005 referred to by the A-G was an election by the government at the time not to be responsible for any expenses that would be incurred by him in the course of his financial engineering but the same did not refer to the obligation of the government arising out of the successful completion of the financial engineering.
Mr Woyome further denied that the negotiation of the judgement obtained by him on May 24, 2010 was arrived at by mistake on the part of the A-G and that after he had obtained the judgement, he was invited by the A-G to a meeting on May 27, 2010.
As a result of meeting, an agreement was reached that the judgement debt be steeled by the payment of GH¢41,811,480.59 as the judgement debt of five million euros or its cedi equivalent.
The amount represented half of the interest awarded by the court and costs of GH¢25,000.