Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Woyome had no contract with government
June 13, 2012 (Front Page) A lawyer at the Legal Department of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Mrs Mangowa Ghanney, Tuesday told the Fast Track High Court that there was no contract between a businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, and the government to warrant the latter to pay him GH¢51.2 million. She said she had also sighted a letter which said Woyome was to provide some services for the government at no cost. Testifying in the trial in which Woyome is facing two counts of defrauding by false pretences and causing financial loss to the state, Mrs Ghanney said a treasurer at the ministry had also queried who the GH¢51.2 million should be paid to because aside from Woyome, a business entity called Astro Investment was also laying claim to the money. Woyome, who has denied any wrongdoing, is alleged to have made fraudulent claims to the government, resulting in the payment of the GH¢51.2 million to him. Woyome and three others — Samuel Nerquaye-Tetteh, a Chief State Attorney; Paul Asimenu, the Director of Legal Services at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, and Mrs Gifty Nerquaye-Tetteh, Nerquaye-Tetteh’s wife — were standing trial for their various roles leading to the fraudulent payment of GH¢51.2 million to Woyome. Woyome faced three counts of conspiracy, defrauding by false pretence and corrupting a public officer. They all pleaded not guilty to the charges. However, on June 5, 2012, a Chief State Attorney, Ms Cynthia Lamptey, filed a nolle prosequi to discontinue the action against the accused persons and, accordingly, prayed for their discharge. The trial judge, Justice John Ajet-Nasam, obliged the state attorney and, accordingly, discharged all four accused persons and struck out the case. Woyome was, however, re-arrested some few minutes later and slapped with the two fresh charges. Giving her evidence-in-chief, Mrs Ghanney told the court that the then Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu, sent a letter to the Ministry of Finance requesting that 22 million euros be paid to Woyome. But the ministry refused to pay. According to her, the Finance Minister, Dr Kwabena Duffuor, referred the letter to her (Mrs Ghanney) for study but she could not advise on it because she was due to travel outside the country within a short period, adding that other lawyers had already advised on the matter. She said she did not have sufficient time to counter what other lawyers had advised on but stated that payment was made after Woyome had secured a default judgement from the High Court. Mrs Ghanney, however, stated during cross-examination by Mr Osafo Buabeng, counsel for the accused, that she would be surprised if full payment had been made because it was procedurally wrong for payment to be made while a civil case was pending. The witness said because the amount involved was huge, she took Woyome and his lawyer to the office of the Director of Budget, where it was agreed that the money should be paid in three instalments. Witness said she had not seen the default judgement and further pointed out that no other payment was made, aside from what was stated in the default judgement. Counsel: Are you aware the recommendation for the payment of the money was not done in a vacuum? Witness: I am not sure. Counsel: When was the first instalment paid? Witness: I do not know because I was not part of the payment process. Counsel: Is the default judgement still in effect? Witness: From the media it is still in force. I am not well versed in the civil matter. Mrs Ghanney stated that she was not officially aware that the Attorney-General had taken civil action against Woyome in respect of the GH¢51.2 million transaction, adding that she got to know of that matter through the media. Hearing continues.