Thursday, February 28, 2013

Austro-Invest struck out in suit against Woyome, others

 February 21, 2013 (Front page)

The Supreme Court Wednesday struck out the name of Austro-Invest Management Company Limited, a company which had been sued alongside three others for the recovery of GH¢51.2 million to the state.
The court struck out the company’s name from the suit following a revelation by the applicant, Mr Martin Amidu, that the company was liquidated in Switzerland on July 26, 2011.
In exercising his right as a citizen of Ghana and in the interest of the public, Mr Amidu dragged the Attorney-General, Waterville Holdings (BVI) Limited, Austro-Invest Management Limited and Woyome to court for their various actions and conduct which, according to him, resulted in the country losing GH¢51.2 million.
But during the court’s sitting in Accra yesterday, Mr Amidu informed the nine-member court that efforts to locate and serve Austro-Invest resulted in his discovering that the company was liquidated on July 26, 2011.
The nine-member court, presided over by Professor Justice S. K. Date-Bah, accordingly struck out Austro-Invest’s name from the suit, leaving the A-G, Waterville and Woyome as the remaining defendants.
Other members of the panel were Mr Justice Julius Ansah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira, Ms Justice Rose Owusu, Mr Justice Jones Dotse, Mr Justice Annin Yeboah, Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Mr Justice N. S. Gbadegbe and Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo.
It also emerged, through Mr Amidu, that Austro-Invest initiated a suit at the High Court in Accra on November 26, 2011, claiming a share of the GH¢51.2 million from Woyome but the suit was discontinued by its lawyer.
The court also granted permission to a Chief State Attorney, Mrs Dorothy Afriyie, to file the state’s response to the suit within seven days.
Lawyers for other parties in the case, namely, Mr Peasah Boadu, who represented Waterville, and Mr Osafo Buabeng, who represented Woyome, were also granted permission to file their responses to the suit within seven days.
A new date will be fixed for hearing of the substantive matter after all the necessary papers have been filed.
In the substantive matter, Mr Amidu is praying the Supreme Court to nullify the GH¢51.2 million payment to Woyome, as well as determine whether or not the Republic of Ghana could pay claims for a loan transaction which, on no occasion, went to Parliament and had not been received by the Government of Ghana.
Mr Amidu’s contention is that the alleged agreements between the Republic of Ghana and Waterville and its associates, Austro-Invest and Woyome, were loan and international business or economic transactions which never became operative for lack of parliamentary approval under Article 181 of the Constitution.
The applicant further questioned the jurisdiction of the High Court to have entertained and granted reliefs sought in Mr Woyome’s Suit No. RPC/152/10 against the Republic of Ghana on grounds of his (Woyome’s) lack of locus standi and a cause of action to commence the action in the first place for absence of a contract with the Government of Ghana
In a related development, the Supreme Court has adjourned to March 5, 2013 hearing of the suit challenging the conduct of the government in agreeing to pay and making part payment US$1,300,000 to Isofoton S.A.
The adjournment is to enable a lawyer, Mr Kizito Beyuo, to formally put in an application to announce himself as the legal representative of two defendants in the case.
The adjournment will also enable the two defendants to file processes to reflect Mr Beyuo as their legal representative.
One of the defendants, Mr Anane Agyei Forson, had earlier deposed in an affidavit that he represented himself and Isofoton in the case but Mr Beyuo later appeared in court representing the two (Mr Forson and Isofoton).
The court also gave the Attorney-General’s Department seven days to file its statement of case.
A Principal State Attorney, Mrs Sylvia Adusu, represented the state, while Mr Beyuo represented Isofoton and Mr Forson.
Describing the payment to Isofoton as “unconstitutional”, the plaintiff, Mr Martin Amidu, dragged the Attorney-General, Isofoton and its agent, Mr Forson, to the Supreme Court.
He is praying the Supreme Court to make orders against the conduct of Isofoton and Mr Forson for making claims against the government when they knew that there was no operative contract with the government within the meaning of Article 181(5) of the 1992 Constitution.
The plaintiff is also questioning the decision of the High Court to have entertained Isofoton’s Suit numbers, BC23/2008 and BC24/2008 against the state on the grounds that Isofoton lacked the locus standi to commence that action.
According to Mr Amidu, Isofoton did not have the fiat to sue the government because it did not have any operative contract with the government.

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