Ghana: State Wobbles Over Woyome

The desire by the state to retrieve the controversial GH¢51 million paid to an Accra-based businessman, Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome, as judgement debt, suffered a temporary jolt yesterday, as state prosecutors handling the case failed to produce witnesses as earlier promised to testify in the case.

The Financial Court, presided over by Ajet-Nasam, therefore, acceded to the request by Mr. Matthew Amponsah, the prosecutor, to adjourn the case to January 26, this year.

Several witnesses, including a former Youth and Sports Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo and former Deputy Minister of Finance in the Kufuor Administration, Mr. Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, have already taken their turn in the witness box.

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. According to the state, it never owed Woyome any money from any contract for which he had been paid GH¢51 million.

It is the case of the state 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 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 State Attorney told the court that the MoU required Waterville to engineer funding for the project on behalf of the government from the Bank Austria Creditanstalt AG, and guaranteed by the World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).

It was noted that 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 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 a substantial amount of Waterville's claims, out of which the company fully paid M-powapak, represented by Woyome, for 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.

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