15 June 2012

Ghana: I Was Actively Involved in Negotiating Payment to Woyome'

A lawyer at the Ministry of Finance and advisor to the Minister on contract negotiations, has indicated that she was actively involved in the processes leading to the payment of the controversial GH¢51million judgment debt paid to businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome.

Mangouwa Ghanney, who was continuing her evidence under cross-examination yesterday, before the Financial Court, where Woyome is being tried for defrauding the Government of Ghana of GH¢51million, noted that she negotiated the payment between the accused person and his lawyer on one side, and Government on the other side.

She further point out that by a letter dated May 18, 2011, she made some corrections on the figures to the amount to be paid as judgment debt to Woyome.

According to the prosecution witness, she wrote a memorandum summarizing the content of the letter from the then Attorney-General recommending the payment of the judgment debt, which was forwarded to the budge division of the Ministry of Finance.

When Mangouwa Ghanney was asked by the defense counsel, Mr. Safo Buabeng to produce the memoranda that she wrote, she told the court, presided over by Justice John Ajet-Nasam that counsel should directly request the document from the budget division.

However, the court rejected the idea put forward by the witness and asked her to trace the memorandum she authored and to make it available to the court on the next adjourned date, on June 22, this year.

Additionally, witness pointed out that the said amount paid to the accused person was in respect of financial engineering fee for Woyome and Astro Invest, adding that the correspondence from the then Attorney-General indicated that the Ministry of Youth and Sports was in agreement that the accused person must be paid the services rendered to Government.

Woyome is currently facing two charges of defrauding by false pretence and causing financial loss to the state.

He had pleaded not guilty to all the charges and he is currently on a GH¢20Million bail with three sureties.

The facts as put out by 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 assigned 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 service 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 substantial amount of Waterville's claims, out of which the company fully paid M-powapak, represented by Woyome, for the financial engineering service 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 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.

Meanwhile, 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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