Thursday, March 19, 2015

A-G on heels of Woyome ; To enforce Supreme Court order

A-G on heels of Woyome ; To enforce Supreme Court orderCourt bailiffs were yesterday unable to serve hearing notices on businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome for the enforcement of a Supreme Court judgement against him.
However, they were able to serve Waterville Holdings, the company that was also ordered to pay back 25 million euros to the state.
Court sources told the Daily Graphic that although there were many vehicles parked in Woyome’s compound, the security detail at the place informed court bailiffs and officials from the Attorney-General’s (A-G’s) Office that he was not at home.
Therefore, bailiffs will attempt service again today or, in the event that they are not successful,  the A-G will have to go back to the Supreme Court to ask for an order for substituted service.
The Supreme Court had, on July 29, 2014, ordered Woyome to refund GH¢51.2 million to the state on the grounds that the contract based on which he had received the money was unconstitutional.
The hearing of the A-G’s application to enforce the Supreme Court judgement has been adjourned sine die.
The adjournment was to enable bailiffs to serve hearing notices on Woyome and Waterville Holdings. 


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 A-G 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 A-G was then pursuing the matter at the Commercial Court to retrieve the money.

The review

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 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 A-G 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 that had not received parliamentary approval was also illegal.

Woyome freed

Meanwhile, the High Court, on March 12, 2015, acquitted and discharged Woyome on two counts of defrauding by false pretence and causing financial loss to the state but the state has appealed the judgement.

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