February 20, 2013 (Front page)
THE Court of Appeal will on May 9, 2013, decide whether or not, it was right for the Commercial Court to allow the state to introduce evidence of fraud in the payment of GHC51.2 million to a businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
Woyome appealed against the Commercial Court’s February 29, 2012, decision to allow the state to introduce evidence of fraud on grounds that, the trial judge erred in law in granting the state the permission, to introduce evidence of fraud almost two years after the state had filed a suit to retrieve moneys paid him.
At the Court of Appeal’s sitting in Accra today, legal representatives of the state and Woyome informed the court that they intended to rely on written submissions with respect to the issue.
Woyome was represented by Alhaji Musah Ahmed while the state was represented by Ms Dorothy Afriyie.
The state on July 20, 2010 filed an application claiming an agreement it reached with Woyome, regarding the payment of GHC51.2 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 presided over by Ms Justice Barbara Ackah-Yensu, granted permission to the state to introduce allegations of fraud against Woyome and awarded cost of GHC2, 000 against the state Woyome for delaying.
Dissatisfied with the Commercial Court’s decision, Woyome filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal on March 13, 2012 challenging the decision of the Commercial Court to grant the state its request.
According to Woyome, the state could raise the issue of fraud but argued that the state could not raise any other issue or relief of which will re-open matters concluded in the consent judgement, resulting in the payment of the GHC51.2 million to him.
He said it was, therefore, wrong in law for the court to allow the state to re-open issues which had already being 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 plaintiff (state) to re-open its case.”
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 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.
But in his amended statement of defence and counter-claim, Woyome, 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. Woyome, is currently standing trial at the Financial Division of the Fast Track High Court on two counts of willfully causing financial loss to the state and defrauding by false pretence.
He has denied any wrongdoing and is currently on a GHC20 million bail.
Hearing of his criminal matter resumes on February 28, 2013.
The state is expected to bring a witness on the next adjourned date after failing to produce a witness on three consecutive occasions.