June 10, page -16
Businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome Monday said that former President J. A. Kufuor interfered with the bidding process for stadia construction for the CAN 2008 tournament.Through the interference, Woyome said, Shanghai Construction Group won the bid for the construction of stadia at Essipon and Tamale.
Testifying in his GH¢51.2 million criminal case, Woyome told the Financial Division of the High Court that although the bidding process had ended and his company had won the bid for the construction of the stadia, the procurement process was sidestepped to give the Chinese company undue advantage.
Slamming the cancellation of his contract, Woyome disclosed that Shanghai’s earlier quotation of $18 million as being the cost of constructing each stadium was “not realistic” and false because a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the government and the Chinese company quoted $38 million as the cost for constructing each stadium.
He supported his claim of what he termed “interference” on the part of former President Kufuor, with a Cabinet memo signed by a former Minister of Education and Sports, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, and dated July 27, 2005.
Snippets of the memoThe MoU, which has been tendered in evidence, stated, among other issues, that President Kufuor had expressed the eagerness to ensure the take-off of the project in good time and at a very competitive cost.
It said the former President was, therefore, of the view that the winning quotations were “rather too high” and hence recommended the construction of modest stadia he had come across while on a visit to Shanghai in China.
According to the memo, President Kufuor’s sentiments had earlier been communicated in a letter signed by Dr Kofi Amoah, then Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of CAN 2008, and dated July 20, 2005.
In the said letter, Dr Amoah had informed Mr Osafo-Maafo that the Shanghai Construction Group had pleaded to be chosen to build a 15,000-capacity stadium within 21 months for $18 million.
In a related development, a letter containing Mr Osafo-Maafo’s challenge of the inclusion of the Shanghai Group’s bid is currently being sought for at the Ministries of Youth and Sports and Education.
After bid processThe Cabinet memo further pointed out that the Shanghai Group had not submitted any bid by February 7, 2005 to be considered by the evaluation committee and that the company had expected the government to provide direct funding for the construction, although other firms had been rejected for not providing funding.
Led by his lawyer, Mr Sarfo Buabeng, to give his evidence-in-chief in the case in which he has been accused of defrauding by false pretence and causing financial loss to the state, Woyome said Mr Osafo-Maafo and Dr Amoah were sent to China to negotiate with the Shanghai Group.
According to the accused person, the MoU quoted $38 million as the cost of the construction of one stadium, instead of Shanghai’s earlier $18 million quotation.
Petition to Attorney-GeneralIn an agitated tone, which was occasionally calmed by either his lawyer or the trial judge, Woyome stated that he was contracted by the government to do financial engineering to raise funds for the stadia construction project.
According to him, two per cent of the fund raised was to be paid to him and so after the government had abrogated the contract for the stadia construction project, he got in touch with a lawyer from London to represent his interest.
The accused person told the packed courtroom that his lawyer tried an amicable settlement of the matter with former President Kufuor’s government but all to no avail.
Following from that, the accused person said he consequently petitioned the then Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu, who called for a meeting of all stakeholders.
He said at the said meeting, Waterville Holdings explained that the financial engineering initiated by Woyome was separate from two contracts the government had signed with Waterville Holdings for stadia construction.
Woyome was said to have raised a 1.1 billion euro facility from Banc Austria, and as part of the conditions for the release of the funds for the stadia construction and other projects, the government was to accept the facility by September 30, 2005 or risk losing it.
The government did not accept the said facility.
SettlementThe accused person told the court that he consolidated his claim and began a process with the Attorney-General’s Department towards settlement.
He said it was eventually agreed that he should be paid two per cent of the total arranged funding for projects which would have comprised six regional hospitals, one national accident and emergency hospital with an 800-bed capacity, 10 regional stadia and more than 60 plant and tissue culture facilities for the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC).
Ghana Mission in ChinaA letter from the Ghana Mission in China, signed by the then First Secretary, Mr Maxwell Nyarko-Lartey, and dated August 11, 2005, which furnished the LOC with particulars of the Shanghai Group’s bid, was tendered in evidence after the court had overruled the prosecution’s objection to the tendering of the document.
Asked where he got the letter from, Woyome replied that it was a “public document” which, in effect, could be accessed by anyone.
For more information on the Case, follow this LINK