Court frees Woyome

Mr Alfred Woyome(infront) responding to cheers from the supporters after the court proceedings.Photo.Ebo Gorman (1)AN Accra High Court yesterday acquitted and discharged Alfred Agbesi Woyome on all the charges leveled against him by the state.

The court argued that it has decided to acquit and discharged Woyome due to the failure of State Prosecutors to bring some high ranking personalities to testify in the criminal case against the Ghanaian businessman, Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome at an Accra High Court to establish his guilt, Mr. Justice John Adjet-Nasam yesterday acquitted and discharged the accused.

In the opinion of the court, Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu, the then Minister of Justice, Mr. Ebo Barton-Odro, then Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr. Paul Asemeni, Head of Legal department at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr. Samuel Neequaye Tetteh, Chief State Attorney and Mr. Magnus Rex Danquah, Chief Operating Officer of CAN 2008 Local organizing Committee (LOC) in-charge of the day today administration of the tournament and member of the Technical Committee on the Stadia Construction as well as being responsible for the receipt of all bids were instrumental in the matter but were not invited by the prosecution to give evidence in support of the charges against the accused.

“In the instant case, I am of the considered opinion that the prosecution has failed woefully to prove beyond all reasonable doubt of the guilt of the accused.

I therefore, acquit and discharge Alfred Agbesi Woyome on all the charges brought against him”.

The Ghanaian businessman has for the past two years, been standing trial on two counts of “Defrauding by false pretence contrary to section 131 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960, Act 29”, and “Causing Financial Loss to the State Contrary to Section 179 A (3) of the Criminal Offences Act 1960, Act 29”.

Before delivering his one hour judgement (from 9.05 am to 10.05 am), Justice Adjt-Nasam told the packed court that he was giving his judgement based on evidence adduced before him adding that, “I would not be a timorous judge in reaching my considered opinion”.

“This case has earned a notoriety in our dear country, and there were songs composed out of it. In fact a lot of comments were made and it seems judgement had been passed on it before the trial even went onto the marks.

“Judges are called upon to hold the scale of justice evenly between parties without regard to colour, religious background or any such”, he said.

The Attorney-General’s Department fielded Mr. Mathew Amponsah, Chief State Attorney and Madam Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, Chief State Attorney as state prosecutors whilst Mr. Osafo Buabeng, Alhaji Musah Ahmed, Mr. Chris Koka and Mr. Robertson Kpatsa represented the accused.

Mr. Woyome, per the charges preferred against him by the prosecution, made a false representation to government officials on February, 2010 that the state owed him 22,129,411.74 euros being two per cent (2%) of the amount of 1,106,470,587.00 as financial engineering fees he was charging on the amount he raised from Bank Austria Creditanstalk, which turned out to be untrue and based on his claims, the Ministry of Finance authorized the payment of GH¢57,283,480.59 to him.

This act amounted to defrauding the state by false pretence.

Again, the accused, between September, 2010 and September, 2011, fraudulently caused the state to incur a financial loss of GH¢57.2 million.

On the bases of the afore-stated charges, “the onus then lay on the state prosecutors to first establish that: (a). the accused made a representation either by written or spoken words or any other means whatsoever per the definition of false pretence.

(b). that the said representation was false in regard to the existence of a state of facts,

(c). that by the false representation, the accused, Alfred Agbesi Woyome caused the statre to pay him GH¢57,283,480.59.

And for the proof under section 179 A (3) (a), Justice Ajet-Nasam quoted Justice of the Supreme Court (JSC) Alfred in the “Republic vrs Ibrahim Adam, Peprah and Yankey of 2003-2005, Ghana Law Report (2GLR) 661, which he (Justice Afreh) stated as follows: “To sum up the essential elements of causing financial loss under section 179 A (3) (9) are:

i A financial loss

  1. To the State

iii. Caused through the action

or omission of the accused and that the accused.

  1. Intended or desired to cause the loss; or
  2. Foresaw the loss as virtually certain and took an unjustifiable risk of it or,
  3. Foresaw the loss as the probable consequence of his act and took an unreasonable risk of it or;
  4. If he had used reasonable caution and observation it would have appeared to him that his act would probably cause or contribute to cause the loss”.

The trial judge again quoted another eminent Justice of the Supreme Court (JSC) Justice William Atuguba for agreeing with Justice Afreh’s solution to section 179 A (3) (a) when he said in Tsatsu Tsikata vrs2

The Republic (2003-2004) SC GLR 1068 at 1118 that “I should add to the end of element (d) that the accused nonetheless, took an unreasonable risk of it”.

Justice Ajet-Nasam yet again quoted a court of Appeal Judge, Mr. Justice Yaw Apau, who doubles as the Sole Commissioner of the Judgement Debts Commission in the Tagor case when he (Justice Apau) said among others that “the fact that this particular case aroused national significance and again the fact that this country is becoming a drug designated country did not justify the crucifixion of our criminal law by applying different principles alien to our criminal law practice in establishing the guilt of the appellants, aside of the Known Common Law principle that an accused person’s guilt has to be proved beyond reasonable irrespective of the crime or offence. This is a task that prosecution is obliged to accomplish at the close of the case”.

Justice Ajet-Nasam said that taking cognizance of the various authorities he had cited, “It is my obligation to examine every charge against the accused herein and the accused herein and the evidence adduced by the prosecution to support the charges of defrauding by false pretence and causing financial loss to the state”.

In the proof of defrauding by false pretence, the judge said that the prosecution must prove that there was indeed, a misrepresentation or personation as defined in section 132 of the Criminal Code, either written or moral.

According to him, Alfred Agbesi Woyome submitted a petition to the former Attorney-Genera Land Minister of Justice, Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu, indicating that he performed financial engineering in respect of CAN 2008 stadia and some projects, and submitted his entitlement to a two-per cent (2%) commission on £1,106,470,587.00.

In response, the former Minister of Justice said, “In view of your interest in the matter, we would be grateful if you could also provide us with documentation with regard to your claim to enable us study same and take the necessary action”.

Mr. Justice Ajet-Nasam said that a team of high standard personalities comprising the Attorney-general and Minister of Justice, Paul Asimenu, Head of Legal at the Ministry of Finance, two representatives from the Government Consultants Building Industry Consultants Limited (B.I.C.) and Mr. Samuel Neequaye Tetteh, a Chief State Attorney studied Woyome’s claims which he titled “Petition”.

He said that on April 23, 2013, the seventh prosecution witness (PN 7), Mr. Andrea Marea Orlandi, during cross-examination, testified that at a round table meeting at the Attorney-General’s office, on February 3, 2010, the witness agreed on behalf of Waterville that Woyome’s claims for Financial Engineering against the Government was distinct and independent from Waterville’s claims.

And that during the meeting, the A-G asked them to present their documentation in respect of financial engineering and the work done respectively.

Mr. Justice Ajet-Nasam said that the Head of Legal at the Finance Ministry wrote his view justifying the payment in concert with other experts who had met to deliberate on the petition.

Mr. Ebo Barton-Odro wrote to the late president, John Evans Atta Mills to justify the payment of the two per cent (2%) commission to Mr. Woyome and said that the accused’s claim was based on the consortium’s Financial Proposal which would have brought in funding for the following:

  1. Sports Stadia and facilities £764,117,646
  2. Hospitals and Wellness Centro – £329,411,765
  3. Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) cobalt 60 Irradiation Plant Tissue

Culture facilities £12,941,176 totalling £1,106,470,587.00.

Justice Ajet-Nasam asked that what prevented the prosecution from calling Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu, Mr. Paul Asimenu, Samuel Neequaye Tetteh, Magnus Rex Danquah, Hon. Ebo Barton-Odro who would have been good and credible witnesses than those the state prosecutors brought to testify earlier?

“The burden is on the prosecution to produce witnesses to prove the guilt of the accused. I ask myself whether the witnesses so far produced by the prosecution, have been able to produce such credible evidence that will let the court rule in its favour”, he said.

By Castro Zangina-Tong & Malik Sullemana

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