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Appeal Court to give ruling on rice importation case on April 17
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The Appeal Court on Wednesday adjourned to April 17 to give a ruling on the appeal filed by Akwasi Osei-Adjei, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and Charles Daniel Gyimah, former Managing Director of National Investment Bank (NIB) on the importation of rice from India.

In addition, it directed them to file their response to the Attorney General’s submissions on the matter within seven days.

They filed the appeal against the Financial Court, a division of the High Court's decision to them to open their defence on charges of conspiracy and contravening the Public Procurement Act on the importation of rice from India.

The Financial Court had on February 25, 2011 acquitted and discharged them on six counts of conspiracy, wilfully causing financial loss to the State, use of public office for profit and stealing.

Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame, Counsel for Osei-Adjei in his submission told the court that the existing Act which established the bank had been converted to the Company’s Act of 1993.

He therefore, argued that the Company’s Act of 1993 repealed NIB Act 163 of 1960, making NIB a limited liability company.

Mr Osei-Adjei on March 18, 2011 filed on a notice of appeal praying the Court of Appeal to stay proceedings and set aside ruling of the lower court and give consequential orders acquitting and discharging him on the two counts.

The grounds of appeal were that the trial judge placed weight on irrelevant evidence, as well as disregarding the overwhelming evidence of all the prosecution witnesses that there was no use of public funds as defined by the Public Procurement Act.

In addition, the trial judge disregarded evidence of the prosecution that the NIB was not a procurement entity, which was required to apply the Public Procurement Act.

In its ruling on “submission of no case” filed on behalf of the accused persons, the lower court was of the view that the prosecution had failed to lead evidence to prove that they wilfully caused financial loss to the State by allegedly acting together to steal 2,997 bags of rice valued at $1,408,590.

It also upheld the defence team’s argument that the prosecution failed to prove that the accused persons used public office for profit, as well as conspiring to steal, but directed the two to open their defence on two counts of conspiracy and contravening the Public Procurement Act.

They had pleaded not guilty to the charges and admitted to GH˘200,000 bail with two sureties each to be justified.

The prosecution called 17 witnesses and closed its case on November 30, 2010. The trial began in October, 2009.

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