“Minister’s comment on controversial GH¢51m not visible”
By Ivy Benson
The Accra Financial Court trying a case in which businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome is being accused over fraudulent receipt of the controversial GH¢51 million judgment debt, last Friday heard that comments made by the Minister of Finance on a document authorising payment was no longer visible.
A lawyer at the Ministry of Finance and advisor to the Minister on contract negotiations, Mangouwa Ghanney, in her evidence before the court presided over by Justice John Ajet-Nasam, noted that the minister’s comment had been canceled out.
According to her, a comment she made on the document in her capacity as the then Deputy Director at the Legal Division of the Ministry, summarising the request for payment of financial engineering made by Woyome from the Austria Bank, in respect of some projects for the government and that of the Director of Budget, were all intact.
The witness, who was being cross-examined by Mr. Safo Buabeng, counsel for the accused person, noted that her comment on the document to the Director of budgets at the Ministry of Finance was a request for the payment of 2% of the total fee of over 1 billion Euros be “considered and authorised”, while that of the Director of Budget was that the money should be “processed for payment.”
The witness further pointed out that a letter accepting the payment of the 2% payment to the accused person was signed by Mr. Paul Asimenu, Head of the legal Division of the Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Minister of Finance, adding that no payment was made to Mr. Woyome.
Consequently, Mangouwa Ghanney informed the court that the accused person was paid following a default judgment he received from court.
Hearing continues on July 3, this year.
Woyome is currently facing two charges of defrauding by false pretences and causing financial loss to the state.
He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, and is currently on a GH¢20 million bail with three sureties.
The facts as put out by the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Ms. Cynthia Lamptey, indicated that sometime in January, 2005, the government invited bids for the rehabilitation of the Accra (Ohene Djan) and Kumasi (Baba Yara) sports stadia, and the construction of two more stadia in Sekondi-Takoradi and Tamale.
At the end of the bidding process, a number of companies were shortlisted and invited to submit proposals for the projects, among which M-powapak Gmb/Vamed Engineering Gmbh & Co KG was eventually declared by the Finance and Evaluation Committee as the most responsive, after which it was recommended to the Tender Review Board.
However, before the tender could receive final approval, the government terminated the process, which had in the course of the process seen Vamed assign its rights and responsibilities to Waterville Holding (BVI) Ltd.
The prosecution said after the termination of the tender process, Waterville protested against the termination and got the government to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with it on November 30, 2005, to commence rehabilitation works on the Accra and El-Wak stadia.
The Chief State Attorney told the court that the MoU required Waterville to engineer funding for the project on behalf of the government from Bank Austria Creditanstalt AG, and guaranteed by the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).
The State Prosecutor said on December 19, 2005, Waterville engaged M-powapak, led by Woyome, to provide it with financial engineering services in respect of the projects, and a formal contract for the rehabilitation of the Ohene Djan and El-Wak stadia was entered into by the government and Waterville on April 26, 2006.
However, before the contract could become effective, the government terminated the contract due to Waterville’s inability to engineer funding for the project, among other issues, as contained in the MoU, and which formed a condition precedent to the contract, the court heard.
Waterville, the prosecution said, initially protested against the termination, but eventually accepted it and proceeded to claim monies for the initial works done under the MoU.
The government paid a substantial amount of Waterville’s claims, out of which the company fully paid M-powapak, represented by Woyome, for the financial engineering services acknowledged by him in a termination agreement dated November 25, 2006, which brought the relationship between the two to an end, the prosecution informed the court.
However, in August 2009, Woyome, having received all the monies due him, took advantage of the change in government, and falsely represented to government officials that he was owed money for financial engineering services rendered to the government under the contract with Waterville.
The prosecution said that in his claim to government officials, Woyome, who had no contract whatsoever with the government, claimed that as part of the financial engineering services rendered, he had managed to arrange a total amount of Euro 1,106,470,587.00 for the government through the Bank Austria Creditanstalt, out of which he claimed two percent as financial engineering fees.
The prosecution noted that investigations, however, revealed that there were no such funds made available for the benefit of the country by Bank Austria, as claimed by Woyome, while further investigations revealed that Woyome had no contract with the government, and that the only arrangement on financial engineering services he had was with Waterville, which had already been paid for by the government.
The prosecution was, therefore, of the view that based on these fraudulent misrepresentations, Woyome got the government to pay him a total of GH¢51,283,480.59, thereby, willfully and fraudulently causing financial loss to the state.
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