The Attorney-General’s Department has initiated moves to fully recover GH¢51.2 million from businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
“We received a certified copy of the Supreme Court judgement directing Woyome to refund the GH¢51.2 million to the state last Thursday and we are currently studying it,” the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, told the Daily Graphic in an interview in Accra yesterday.
She said, she would hold a meeting with the attorneys who handled the case this week, after which “we will move in to vigorously enforce the judgement to recover the full amount”.
Explaining further, she said the A-G’s department would file the necessary legal papers before the resumption of the legal year in its bid to recover the money.
Mrs Appiah-Opong declined to fully disclose how her outfit intended to enforce the court’s judgement, but assured the public that “our aim is to recover the money and we would do exactly that.”
The legal vacation commences from the first week of August and ends in the last week of September. Therefore, the superior courts are expected to resume for the new legal year on the second Monday of October 2014.
The Supreme Court, on July 29, 2014, ordered Woyome to refund GH¢51.2 million to the state on the grounds that he got the money out of unconstitutional and invalid contracts between the state and Waterville Holdings Limited in 2006 for the construction of stadia for CAN 2008.
It held, in a unanimous decision, that the contracts upon which Woyome made and received the claim were in contravention of Article 181 (5) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, which requires such contracts to be laid before and approved by Parliament.
The 11-member court, presided over by the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, was ruling on a review application filed by a former Attorney- General and Minister of Justice, Mr Martin Amidu.
Other members of the panel were Justices Julius Ansah, Sophia Adinyira, Rose Owusu, Jones Dotse, Anin Yeboah, Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, N. S. Gbadegbe, Vida Akoto Bamfo, A. A. Bennin and J.B. Akamba.
June 14, 2013 judgement
The court had, on June 14, 2013, directed the international construction firm, Waterville Holdings Limited (BVI), to refund all the money paid to it by the Ghana government on the premise that it had no valid and constitutional contractual agreement with the government.
Waterville is expected to refund 25 million euros it received from the government, following the court’s judgement that the said contract it entered into with the government for stadia construction for CAN 2008 was unconstitutional.
That was because it had contravened Article 181 (5) of the 1992 Constitution which required such contracts to go to Parliament for approval.
Mr Amidu had, in the original suit, prayed the court to order Woyome to refund the money he had received as a result of the void contract the government had entered into with Waterville Holdings.
But the court declined jurisdiction over the issue, with the reason that the Attorney-General was currently pursuing the matter at the Commercial Court to retrieve the money.
According to the applicant, who filed the application for review on July 12, 2013, he had read the two judgements delivered by the Supreme Court very carefully, along with other Ghanaians of like thinking, and had come to the conclusion that some aspects of the judgement contained “exceptional circumstances that have resulted in what we perceive may constitute a miscarriage of justice”.
He said the 1992 Constitution imposed both rights and obligations, particularly under articles 2 and 3, on every Ghanaian citizen to ensure that the constitutional order established by the Constitution was not threatened or by an unlawful means abrogated.
Contract null and void
In the Waterville judgement, the court declared as null and void and of no operative effect a contract titled: “Contract for the Rehabilitation (Design, Construction, Fixtures, Fittings and Equipment) of a 40,000 Seating Capacity Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi, Ghana” entered into between the Republic of Ghana and Waterville Holdings (BVI) Limited, of P.O. Box 3444, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands on April 26, 2006.
The review decision
Reversing aspects of the court’s June 2013 judgement on behalf of her colleagues, Mrs Justice Wood said the conduct of the then Attorney General and Minister of Justice in paying or ordering the payment of money to Austro Invest for a “purported” financial engineering which arose out of an April 26, 2006 agreement was, therefore, unconstitutional.Austro-Invest was contracted by Woyome to syndicate funding for the grant of a 1.1 billion euro facility but was paid off by Woyome.
Woyome had, on June 25, 2014, told the Financial Division of the High Court hearing a criminal case instituted against him by the state that Austro-Invest sued him at the High Court, but the case was discontinued after he had paid $1 million to Austro Invest through M-powapak.
Proceedings at High Court void
The court further declared as null and void and of no legal effect proceedings at the High Court (Commercial Division) that entertained a suit brought against the state by Woyome on April 19, 2010.
It also held that the conduct of Woyome and Austro-Invest in making claims and receiving payment on two “in-operative agreements” which were international businesses and had not received parliamentary approval was also illegal.
The court’s lead opinion, on which the entire judgement hinged, was delivered by Mr Justice Dotse, who espoused the need for strict adherence to all components of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
Meanwhile, the criminal case instituted against Woyome by the state has been adjourned to October 10, 2016.