Bernard Madoff walked down from his high office as one of the top finance persons in the USA into a jail home for the next 150 years of his life. He had operated the largest ponzi scheme in history for over 17 years, illegally and wrongfully earning over $65 billion. In Ghana, we have NAM 1 being hunted down for operating a ponzi scheme, and may most likely face the wrath of his customers if ever found in this country.
In all these, one outstanding ponzi scheme, cleverly acted and executed, was by Alfred Agbesi Woyome. He either connived with or hoodwinked top government officials and civil servants to coolly steal GH¢51.2 million from the nation’s coffers somewhere in 2009, when the national Democratic Congress (NDC) assumed the reins of government.
Ever since, he had stood out very adamant to claim that he did work for the government and the contract was wrongfully abrogated, so he deserved to be paid judgement debt, in which the amount he was claiming was more than the contract sum of the project he claimed he was legally executing.
This was after admitting on radio during a morning show that he had no contract with the government. Woyome was found out by the courts that he had defrauded the nation and was asked to repay the money he stole.
This number one swindler in our country’s history then took us on excursions to almost all the highest courts in the world to prove his innocence.
What is very intriguing in this whole saga is that his party, the NDC, when in government, made a sham of a case against him. Woyome claimed he had duly executed a contract given to him by then New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, which turned out to be false. He was hired by Waterville, a company which had a contract from the Kufuor administration. That contract was terminated and Waterville fully paid off for what constituted a breach of contract. According to Waterville’s lawyers, Woyome was also paid off by their company. So with his insistence that he was not paid for the abrogation of the contract, one would have expected the then NDC government to have two key sets of witnesses appear on behalf of the state. They are Hon. Kwadwo Mpiani, then Chief of Staff in the NPP regime, who would clearly clarify the person, Woyome, in the matter. The next should have been the lawyers of Waterville, who would come and tell us what relationship their company had with Woyome.
None of these very important witnesses were called to testify, but only for us to be told by the NDC government that Government of Ghana was no longer interested in pursuing any criminal case against its top financier. Meaning, whenever Woyome is found to have, indeed, stolen money from the nation’s coffers, it should be treated as a civil case, and not as a criminal case.
In other words, Woyome will never see the inside of a prison cell. Meanwhile, this is a political tradition that killed an innocent government official for legally acquiring a loan from the bank to build his house; a political tradition that seized properties and went on breaking down mansions and market centers on the mere perception of illegality. When it is about the NDC’s own, we are told it is a civil and not a criminal matter.
Woyome’s last hope of relief from the calls to return the money he stole blew out like a candle flame in a windstorm when the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights unanimously dismissed a case filed by him against the State of Ghana.
Woyome, who had run to that court because he felt his rights in Ghana were not respected, and to sort the following reliefs, which, he claimed, were violated: right to non-discrimination, right to equality before the law, equal protection before the law, and his right to be heard by an impartial tribunal. The African Court saw nothing being done in Ghana to prove Woyome’s rights were violated.
Hear him, so what should that poor hungry fellow who stole three cassava to cook for his entirely family to eat and is facing a jail term of six months, also claim for?
Woyome, as we speak, is about to be stripped off his properties, and most likely will turn out from the status of a prince to a pauper. It is a nightmare for him and he cannot accept the thoughts that he will soon need benefactors to get him a space in their dusty garage to lay his head at night. As for food he may soon go begging. This is just too much, but what about those whose breadwinners were killed for offenses that could not be proven to be crimes, in courts that pronounced judgement long before the plaintiff appeared before it? Yes, those families who suddenly had no homes and no one to put food on their plates?
We hear Woyome is now saying that he will negotiate payments with the government, hopefully seeking repayment schedules that will be cool on him. He must be well informed that he did not borrow this money, he stole it, and here the terms are different. And one thing, it cannot be GH¢51.2 million any more, since, considering the duration and imputing interest accrued on inflationary rates, the amount he stole was in the range of GH¢250 million somewhere around mid-last year.
Or we can work out the dollar equivalent of the GH¢51.2 and commute our annual inflation rate since 2009 and come out with how much he owed in dollars, and here we are starting from the region of close to $35 million.
Did we hear the NDC saying that the NPP government should not claim all the glory for getting the money from Woyome, because it initiated the trial during its term in government? No shame…after it created the problem by defying the then president’s order not to pay Woyome, and after it put up a sham of court trial just to make Woyome go free, it is now out saying what? Well, the NDC should help Woyome refund the loot plus accrued interest. In dollar rating, Woyome should owe over $170 million as at mid last year. The only way to discourage people who set out to loot from state coffers is to make the culprits pay with all accrued interests.
Hon. Daniel Dugan