Linda Akrasi Kotey
The Attorney General (A-G) and Minister for Justice, Betty Mould Iddrisu, has told Parliament that due to Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) Scheme between Ghana and the United States, she was unable to disclose to the House the outcome of investigations into the Kosmos and EO Group.
Responding to a question on the outcome of investigations by the United States Department of Justice on the Kosmos and EO Group’s affair yesterday, Mrs. Mould-Iddrisu stated that the Criminal Division of the US Department of Justice asked for assistance from the A-G’s office, which is the national authority for Ghana, under the Mutual Legal Assistance Scheme (MLA) concerning the activities of Kosmos Energy and the E. O. Group.
She said, in a letter dated May 12, 2010, the Department of Justice told the A-G’s office that it had closed the enquiry into the matter, and that they did not intend to take any further enforcement action.
They added that should additional information or evidence be made available to them, they may re-open an enquiry into the matter for reasons of strict confidentiality for Mutual Legal Assistance requests.
“This is the only information that I am able to provide presently, as to the nature of the investigations by the US Department of Justice,” the Attorney-General told the House.
She explained that investigations by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of Ghana into activities of the E.O. Group, and related companies in particular, were still ongoing.
The CID, she said, was conducting investigations into the activities surrounding the acquisition of 3.5% carried shares of the EO Group and related companies.
Responding to further questions as to whether it was a member of the jubilee fields which instigated the investigations of the US into activities of the EO Group and Kosmos, the A-G stated that the contents of Mutual Legal Assistance are confidential, as such she could not take further questions.
She reiterated to the members that there was an ongoing arbitration in respect of some other matters, as such her office attempted to lay some aspects of the MLA in court.
They were not dealt with lightly, because even disclosing contents of the MLA in court could be pre-judicial to an ongoing investigation.
The Minister also told the House that the Justice for All Programme, which allows the courts to sit at the various prisons to review the warrants of remand inmates, was still ongoing, and had not been discouraged, or abandoned.
Responding to a question as to when the system would be adopted, the A-G said when she assumed office, she took the project to another level, by causing a high court level dialogue to be instituted.
This is the periodic meeting of all the heads of institutions involved in criminal justice delivery, to address issues pertaining to criminal justice delivery.
The Minister of Justice said a task force had been set up, chaired by a retired Supreme Court Judge and the Deputy Attorney General, to oversee the activities of the remand review project under the “Justice For All Programme.”
She recalled that in 2007, there were four sittings held in the then James Fort Prisons, and two subsequent sittings at the Nsawam Prisons in 2008. In 2009, there were three sittings at the Nsawam Prisons.
The Attorney General maintained that this year, twelve special courts had been set up to sit in the Nsawam Prisons, and that cases which qualified to be dealt with under the project, had been handled.
At the end of the sittings, 18 remand prisoners were tried and sentenced, 68 discharged, and 19 granted bail.
She said there had been cases of recidivism amongst those released, as 13 of them had been alleged to have committed fresh offences after their release, and had been re-arrested.
One of them was killed in a shootout with the police in a foiled robbery attempt.