As the Financial Court gets positioned to dispense justice on time, over issues raised against businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome, in the controversial GHÂ¢51Million judgment debt paid to him, it has been hit yesterday with the failure of the prosecution to avail its subsequent witnesses, after bringing one witness since the commencement of the case.
The court, presided over by Justice John Ajet-Nasam, therefore, questioned the prosecution if it was serious in prosecuting the issue, as he expressed his worry about the way the prosecution was handling the case.
The court further cautioned that the case should be handled properly in the interest of the nation. The court expressed its sentiments after Chief State Attorney, Matthew Amponsah, told the court that the prosecution could not make available the witness that it intended to call.
According to the Chief State Attorney, his outfit had planned to call employees of the various companies involved in the transaction, noting that witnesses have been out of the jurisdiction for a very long time, so the prosecution needed time to prepare them towards mounting the witness box.
Mr. Amponsah also noted that the prosecution had raised during interactions with the witnesses, the issue of relevant documents needed by the prosecution, which was impossible to get at short notice, since they were not readily available.
Defense Counsel, Mr. Musa Ahmed, in his reaction noted that it had taken due notice of the comments of the prosecution, stressing that the decision to grant an adjournment solely rests on the court. Hearing was, therefore, fixed for July 12, this year, for continuation.
Woyome is currently facing two charges of defrauding by false pretences and causing financial loss to the state. He had pleaded not guilty to all the charges and he is currently on a GHÂ¢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 others 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 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.
Meanwhile, the prosecution was therefore of the view that based on these fraudulent misrepresentations, Woyome got the government to pay him a total of GHÂ¢51,283,480.59, thereby, willfully and fraudulently causing financial loss to the state.