Friday, September 26, 2014

I funded Local Organising Committee — Woyome

May 13 2014 (page 16) - Businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome yesterday spelt out the steps he took in his bid to make Ghana a sports tourism hub in 2008. According to him, he funded the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of CAN 2008 to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), as well as funded a company appointed by the LOC to conduct feasibility studies to pave the way for the construction of stadia and other facilities for CAN 2008.

Led by one of his lawyers, Mr Sarfo Buabeng, to give his evidence-in-chief in his GH¢51.2 million criminal case, Woyome recounted how he travelled several times, set up offices in some countries and held several meetings with international financial institutions in his bid to secure funding to assist the government to host CAN 2008 successfully.

He specifically stated that he set up offices in Washington DC, Switzerland and Rome to facilitate the raising of funds.

According to him, he employed staff and experts and explained that “many experts were charging by the hour and were being paid by me”.

The accused person, however, explained that the office in Switzerland was funded by one of his partners and further pointed out that it took him four years to put things together.
“I funded LOC”

“The LOC was not funded. I funded the LOC. I was responsible for looking for funding and putting up groups of companies for the organisation of CAN 2008 and putting up infrastructure to make Ghana a sports tourism destination,” Woyome said.

Wearing a long-sleeved linen  shirt, Woyome eloquently sought to portray that he played an important role in his bid to seek financial facility from Banc Austria.

To buttress his claim that he funded the LOC, the accused person said he had to drag the LOC to court to obtain a judgement from the High Court before the LOC refunded the money he used to pay PMP, a British company which conducted feasibility studies for the stadia projects.

He said the feasibility report was used to seek clearance from the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), which in turn gave clearance to Banc Austria to issue the financial instrument.
Bidding process
He said a former Deputy Minister of Sports, Mr O.B. Amoah, wrote to prospective bidders, including Vamed, a company he (Woyome) was working with, and requested that all bidders provide proof of funding because contracts would be awarded on the basis of secure funding.
Woyome said the steps he took after Mr Amoah’s letter included a meeting with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP), where he reiterated the problems that might face the funding of the project because Ghana was then a Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC).
Based on his suggestion that Ghana needed to create a sports legacy by redefining sports as a tool for development, the government, together with the LOC, wrote letters introducing him and the lead company as entities looking for funding for CAN 2008.
He admitted that the only issue in the introductory letter was that when one sought funding and did not succeed, that person or entity bore the loss incurred, “but if you do and bring documentary financial instrument as in my case, the cost of funding becomes that of government”.
Asked who wrote the letters introducing him and his partner, Woyome said Mr Amoah introduced him to the US Department of Commerce, while Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, a former Deputy Minister of Finance, wrote a letter explaining how the government was desirous of getting appropriate funding from international banks.
According to the witness, most of the banks had in the past provided financing to the MoFEP through his efforts.
Stringent conditions
According to the witness, the LOC, together with the government, set up a bidding process that required participants to meet the deadline with conditions attached.
The conditions included the provision of architectural designs of the stadia, syndicated funding, transaction advisor to the syndicated funding, and a letter of support from the lead bank.
According to him, although the conditions were stringent, he succeeded in travelling to the United States of America (USA) and Austria in less than a week to secure funding for the projects.
He said based on his several meetings with MIGA, Bank Austria and other officials, he finally secured a provisional documentary financial instrument from Banc Austria, which had September 30, 2005 as the deadline.
The accused person told the court that the credit facility would have been provided by the bank if the government had accepted Bank Austria’s financial package by September 30, 2005.
He told the court that he added the letter of support from Banc Austria to Waterville’s bid documents which included technical specifics and detailed drawings and packaged them for submission.
Woyome had attempted to tender in evidence the envelope which contained the documentary financial instrument from Banc Austria, but his lawyer withdrew it after a Chief State Attorney, Mr Matthew Amponsah, had objected.
The Attorney General (AG) and Minister for Justice, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah Opong, was in court to lend support to the prosecution team.
Hearing continues on May 19, 2014.
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