Thursday, June 26, 2014

Committee to investigate NPA office rental

Three letters which showed the government’s divergent position on Alfred Agbesi Woyome’s role in raising a 1.1 billion euro facility played out at the Financial Division of the High Court yesterday.
One of the letters had been tendered in evidence by the state, while Woyome tendered the two others.
The first letter acknowledged the businessman as engaging in financial engineering to raise funds but at the same time advised the financial institutions he was dealing with to desist from signing any contract that would bind the government of Ghana. 
The two other letters stated that Woyome deserved to be paid two per cent of 1.1 billion euros for engaging in financial engineering services.
A May 4, 2005 letter signed by a former Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP), Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, told three international banks that in as much as the government was aware that Woyome was raising funds, it (government) had no dealing with him and for that reason those institutions should not enter into any agreement with him on behalf of the state.
But a March 25, 2010 letter signed by a former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu, justified why Woyome should be paid two per cent of 1.1 billion euro.
Her letter detailed the complexity of the work he did, which included the setting up of offices in three different countries to raise the 1.1 billion euro facility from Banc Austria.


At the court’s sitting in Accra yesterday, counsel for Woyome, Mr Sarfo Buabeng, asked him to comment on the May 4, 2005 letter, but a Chief State Attorney, Mr Matthew Amponsah, objected to that on the grounds that the language in the letter was explicit and unambiguous.
He also argued that Woyome was not the author of the document to comment on it, but Mr Buabeng disagreed and insisted that his client was entitled to comment on it.
In its ruling, the court, presided over by Mr Justice John Ajet-Nasam, overruled the state’s objection but indicated that the court was not bound by the accused person’s comment. 

Woyome’s comments

Commenting on Mr Agyemang-Manu’s letter, Woyome told the court that it was normal practice for the Ministry of Finance to write such letters each time funds were to be raised on behalf of the government by a non-government official.
He said the ministry was aware he was there to raise funds and the letter was only to remind the financiers to not enter into any agreements until the government had scrutinised all documents.
In that particular instance, Woyome said, the product he brought was the concurrent approval from Banc Austria, which would have yielded the government 1.1 billion euros if the government had accepted it before the September 30, 2005 deadline.

Third letter

A third letter, which was authored by a former Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Ebo Barton-Odro, spelt out the stadia, hospitals and other facilities the money raised by Woyome would have been used to build.
That letter, which was addressed to  President John Evans Atta Mills, clearly spelt out the facilities the money would have been used to build.

No money paid

Mr Buabeng reminded the accused person of an earlier testimony from the investigator in the case which suggested that Banc Austria did not pay any money to the government of Ghana, but Woyome said that assertion was incorrect.
Describing a letter written by the Attorney-General’s office, through the Ministry of Finance, to the Austrian authorities on whether or not the 1.1 billion facility came as “incorrect”, Woyome said it was embarrassing for the ministry to have written such letter.
“Their incorrect letter solicited an incorrect answer,” he stressed.
“Under no circumstance have I stated verbally or written that money was transferred to Ghana,” he noted, and explained that his claim had always been that the government, after the concurrent approval by Banc Austria, was by law expected to accept the 1.1 billion euro offer before September 30, 2005.
“The Attorney-General knew that but incorrectly wrote asking if money came to Ghana and the normal response would be ‘no’,” he pointed out, noting that the Austrian authorities had, indeed, acknowledged that the signatures on the financial instrument were authentic.

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