22 June 2019

Ghana: COCOCBOD Financial Loss Case - CRIG Scientists Recommended Companies for Restrictive Bidding

Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah, the third prosecution witness in the trial involving Dr Stephen Opuni and one Seidu Agongo, has said scientists at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) recommended companies for the restrictive bidding.

He said Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) could not recommend companies for the bidding without expert advice from scientists at CRIG.

Mr Samuel Cudjoe, counsel for Dr Opuni, in a cross-examination, suggested to the witness that it was the scientists, who recommended on behalf of COCOBOD, but the witness denied the proposition.

The witness explained that the recommendation was based on technical advice from scientists from CRIG, who actually tested chemicals like fertiliser.

The defence counsel said the letter applying for the restrictive tendering was from COCOBOD, and the witness agreed.

Dr Adu-Ampomah disagreed that COCOBOD selected their own companies in the application for restrictive tendering.

Mr Cudjoe pointed to the witness that, he stated in his evidence that at the transition team got to know that some chemicals did not go through full cycle of testing, but had their certificates renewed, of which the witness agreed.

Defence counsel suggested to the witness that, he specifically stated in his evidence in chief that the transition team recommended to the new management of COCOBOD to investigate the anomalies in the testing and procurement of Lithovit fertiliser, but the witness disagreed.

The witness explained that it was not only Lithovit fertiliser, but also all agro-chemicals, including fertiliser.

Mr Cudjoe asked, the witness whether, the witness together with the transition team were aware that there was a problem with Lithovit not going through the cycle during testing and renewal.

The witness said, "My Lord, the transition team did not specify only one chemical, it said several of them."

The defence counsel said the witness was not truthful to the court, when in his evidence, he indicated, "The transition team recommended to the new management of COCOBOD to investigate the anomalies in the testing and procurement of Lithovit fertiliser, but the witness denied that.

The witness said it was because the trial was on the purchase of Lithovit hence such answer to the court.

He explained that during the transition, several agro-chemicals, including Lithovit, were found not to have been properly tested and "my statement on Lithovit is because the trial was focused on it".

Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 each self-recognisance bail.

The case has been adjourned to June 26, for further cross-examination. - GNA

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