Monday, April 30, 2012
April 4, 2012 (Front Page) Businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, has appealed against the Commercial Court's decision to allow the state to introduce evidence of fraud in the payment of GH¢51.2 million as judgement debt to him. According to his lawyers, the trial judge erred in law in granting the state permission to introduce evidence of fraud almost two years after the state had filed a suit to retrieve moneys paid him. The state had, on July 20, 2010, filed an application claiming that an agreement it reached with Woyome regarding the payment of GH¢51.2 million was a mistake, but, according to Woyome, the state "went to sleep until January 16, 2012 when it filed a motion on notice for leave to amend by substitution the amended writ of summons and the accompanying amended statement of claim”. The Commercial Division of the Fast Track High Court on February 29, 2012 granted permission to the state to introduce allegations of fraud against Woyome and awarded costs of GH¢2,000 against the state in favour of Woyome for delaying. According to Woyome, the state could raise the issue of fraud but argued that it could not raise any other issue or relief which would reopen matters concluded in the consent judgement resulting in the payment of the GH¢51.2 million to him. He said it was, therefore, wrong in law for the court to allow the state to reopen issues which had already been tackled in the consent judgement. In his supporting affidavit, Woyome argued that “in an action charging fraud, it would be a clear impropriety for the state to re-open its case”. Meanwhile, Woyome, who was absent in court Tuesday, has filed for stay of proceedings at the Commercial Court pending the outcome of the appeal, which will be heard on April 18, 2012. According to Woyome, in the event that his appeal succeeded, the evidence that would otherwise be led on the reliefs being sought by the state would prejudice the fair hearing of the matter at the Court of Appeal, thereby resulting in a substantial miscarriage of justice. Woyome, who is currently standing trial at the Financial Division of the Fast Track High Court for fraud, is, accordingly, praying the Court of Appeal to stay proceedings at the Commercial Court pending the outcome of his appeal. At the Commercial Court"s sitting in Accra Tuesday, one of the lawyers for Woyome, Mr Robertson Kpatsa, informed the court of his client's appeal and prayed the court to adjourn the civil case between the state and his client indefinitely to enable his client to pursue the appeal. He also explained that his client had not filed his amended statement of defence because of the appeal. The court, however, declined to indefinitely adjourn the case and fixed April 24, 2012 as the next date for hearing. The Attorney-General (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. 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 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 Woyome or any claimant pursuant to such a contract. The A-G is seeking a declaration that all the processes filed and proceedings involving Woyome and the A-G were null and void because 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 Woyome were fraudulent, among others. In his amended statement of defence and counter-claim, 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. 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 the 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.