5 Bodies ‘indicted’ over GH¢51.2m payment to Woyome

A police investigator Wednesday told the Accra Fast Track High Court that five institutions failed to conduct due diligence before sanctioning the payment of GH¢51.2 million to businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome in 2010.

Mr Odame Okyere, the investigator, pointed accusing fingers at the Attorney-General’s office, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP), the Bank of Ghana (BoG), the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of CAN 2008 and Building Industry Consultants (BIC) for recommending payment to Woyome without verifying the authenticity of the documents submitted by him.

Lead counsel for Woyome, Mr Sarfo Buabeng, had suggested that the cited bodies acted properly, but the investigator disagreed and said, “they didn’t do their work well.” That, according to Mr Okyere, was because the entities agreed that Woyome was entitled to the claim, based on documents he submitted.

According to the witness, the said entities did not do due diligence on documents submitted by Woyome, because when the investigation team sent Woyome’s documents to Bank Austria, they found that no money had been committed to support any project in Ghana.

At that point, counsel suggested to Mr Okyere that the five entities did not do their work well, to which he answered in the affirmative.

Woyome was paid the amount for conducting financial engineering for the award of 1.1 billion Euros from Bank Austria but Mr Okyere said investigations into the matter revealed that that money was never made available to the government.

Letter from Bank Austria
Counsel directed Mr Okyere to read out portions of a letter from Bank Austria which said a 1.1 billion Euros facility for the construction of hospitals, stadia and other projects would not be made available to the LOC if the offer was not accepted before September 30, 2005.

Asked if the LOC accepted the offer before the said September 30, 2005, Mr Okyere said he did not have any document to that effect.

He, however, told the court that he had indeed verified the authenticity of the signatory of the letter giving the deadline from the Bank of Austria and the signature was found to be genuine.

Mr Buabeng: Do you know the term financial engineering?

Mr Okyere: I know. It is simulating for funds for a project.

Mr Buabeng: This petition never mentioned anywhere that funds had been transferred from Bank Austria to the accounts of the Republic of Ghana? 

Mr Okyere: He said monies were available in Bank Austria.

Counsel then questioned the witness on the outcome of investigations on Austro-Invest to which Mr Okyere said the company was not registered in Ghana per records from the Registrar-General’s office.

He added that he then attempted to contact the owner of Austro-Invest, Mr Ray Smith,  who had an office at Dzorwulu but was told he was then out of the country.

Mr Okyere, who is the ninth and last prosecution witness in the case, said the lawyer for Austro Invest, Mr Tony Lithur, wrote to the police stating that Mr Smith was indisposed and that he would accordingly notify the police when he got back to the country.

Asked if he followed the issue up after he had returned to the Dzorwulu office, the witness replied in the negative.

Waterville Holdings (BVI) Limited engaged Austro-Invest to source money for the stadia construction project.

Led earlier by a Chief State Attorney, Mr Matthew Amponsah, to give his evidence-in-chief, Mr Okyere stated that Woyome submitted a claim to justify his raising 1.1 billion Euros for the construction of nine different stadia in nine different regions and other projects, but “nothing of the sort was built.”

“That money never came to Ghana,” Mr Okyere emphasised.

Witness told the court, presided over by Mr Justice John Ajet-Nasam that Woyome “had no title to claim because he did not have any contract with government for which he made that claim.”

Nonetheless, he said Vamed Engineering had a contract with Woyome.

Woyome scrutinises documents
The prosecution sought to tender in evidence various statements taken from Woyome,  but he stood up and scrutinised each statement with his lawyer.

The judge at a point asked him: “is that not your handwriting?” 

In his response, Woyome conceded that it was his handwriting, but added, “I am looking carefully to see if there are no additions.”

All the statements were tendered without any objection from Woyome’s counsel.

Prosecution witnesses
The prosecution, which has since closed its case, called Mrs Mangowa Ghanney of the MOFEP; a former Minister of Finance, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo; a former Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr Kwaku Agyeman Manu; Ms Yvonne Quansah of MOFEP, and a former Deputy Governor of BoG, Mr Lionel Van Lare Dosoo, as its other witnesses.

Ms Lesley Dodoo of the Public Procurement Authority, Mr Andrea Orlandi, then Managing Director of Waterville Holdings, and Mr Ahmed Sulemana, the acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Justice, have also testified for the state.

Writer’s email: mabel.baneseh@graphic.com.gh

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