The ambulance trial: Ato, You Have A Case To Answer … Open your defence -Court 

The Financial and Economic Division of the Accra High Court, presided over by Justice Afia Serwaa Asare-Botwe, has ordered the Minority Leader in Parliament, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson and two others to open their defence.

Dr Forson, first accused (A1), was also a former deputy Minister for Finance under the erstwhile Mahama Administration, stand accused with Sylvester Anemana (A2), former Chief Director at the Ministry of Health and Richard Jakpa (A3), a private businessman on eight criminal charges.

Al was charged with one count of wilfully causing financial loss to the Republic, contrary to section 179A(3)(a) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) and one count of intentionally misapplying public property, contrary to section 1(2) of the Public Property Protection Act, 1977 (SMCD 140).

A2 was charged with one count of abetment of crime, namely wilfully causing financial loss to the Republic and one count of contravention of the Public Procurement Act, 2003, contrary to section 92(2)(b) of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663).

Richard Jakpa has also been charged with one count of wilfully causing financial loss to the Republic.

According to the court, the prosecution had been able to establish a prima facie case against them, hence the order to open their defence.

The court said this, while giving a ruling yesterday on “No case to answer” submissions filed by the accused persons.

Justice Asare-Botwe said the prosecution was able to establish that there was financial loss to the Republic, abetment and intentionally misapplying public property.

According to the court, it has been admitted that the ambulances that were imported were not fit for purpose and A2 and A3 had indicated that there were rules for the defects to be fixed.

“If you have spent money on a vehicle that cannot be used, then there is a case to be answered,” the judge ruled.

On the argument raised by lawyers for Dr Forson, questioning  why the Attorney General (A-G) failed to call Seth Terkper, former Minister for Finance to testify in support of its case if A1 acted without authority by issuing the letters of credit (LC) for the purchase of the ambulances, the court noted that “It is a misapprehension of the law to state that the A-G should have called Seth Terkper to prove that Dr Ato Forson did not have the authorisation to write the said letter.”

Justice Asare-Botwe explained that although she agrees that Mr Terkper is a material witness, it is for Dr Forson to prove that he acted on the authority of the sector minister.


The facts as narrated by the Attorney-General Godfred Yeboah Dame were that Dr Forson, while a Deputy Minister for Finance from 2013 to January 6, 2017 signed LC for the purchase of some 200 Ambulances to be procured for the National Ambulance Service (NAS).

According to him, the purchase of 200 ambulances, through the MoH, for the National Ambulance Service (NAS) received Cabinet blessing on December 22, 2011 through a €15,800,000.00 loan facility from the Stannic Bank.

However, the A-G read that there was no mention of Big Sea General Trading Limited in the United Arab Emirates (UEA) in the memorandum submitted to parliament or its approval for financing agreement between the Government of Ghana and Stannic Bank, for the procurement of the 200 ambulances on November 1, 2012.

He contended that the Public Prosecution Authority (PPA) approved single-sourced engagement of Big Sea to supply the 200 ambulance through Sylvester Anemana’s false representation.

As a result, the Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Health, entered into a formal agreement with Big Sea to supply the 200 ambulance at estimated cost €15, 800,000.00.

Establishing the criminal involvement of Dr Forson, he said on August 7, 2014 he wrote a letter to the Bank of Ghana, urgently requesting the establishment of Letters of Credit for the supply of 50 ambulances at the cost of €3,950,000.00 representing 25 percent of the total cost, in favour of Big Sea.

Similarly, A1 was said to have written to the Controller and Accountant General (CAG), authorising it to release GH¢806,688.75 to MoH to enable it to pay bank charges covering the establishment of the LC on August 12 of the same year.

He added that, based on these letters, MoH also wrote to the Bank of Ghana on August 14, authorising it to establish irrevocable transfer of the LC in the sum of €3,950,000.00 in favour of Big Sea.

Contrary to the supply of 50 ambulances agreed between Big Sea and MoH, only 20 were ready for shipment and to make things worse, they were full of defects on arrival in two batches.

Mr Dame indicated that the third batch of consignment was not different from the other two batches, to which then MoH Minister said the vehicles do meet specifications.

On these scores, the A-G urged the court that A1 has a question to answer for authorising irrevocable LC value at €3,950,000.00 and out of it, €2,370,000 was paid to Big Sea, to result in a financial loss to the Republic.

He also stated that A1 caused the establishment of the LCs without any authorisation, saying “We have established clearly, under submissions on count one that Al’s authorisation for LCs to be issued as payment for the vehicles purporting to be ambulances was highly unwarranted and, indeed, reckless, having regard to the circumstances under which the authorisation for payment was made.”


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