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Betty Paid Woyome With No Contract   
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A legal adviser to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP), Ms Mangowa Ghunney, yesterday told an Accra Fast Track High Court, Financial Division, that National Democratic Congress (NDC) financier Alfred Agbesi Woyome had no contract with the government to provide any services so the government had no obligation to pay him any money.

Appearing in court as the first prosecution witness in the Woyome GH51.28million fraud trial, Ms Ghunney also revealed that it was the former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Betty Mould-Iddrisu, who in a letter to the Finance Ministry instructed that the NDC financier should be paid 22million, being two percent of a contract he claimed to have had with the erstwhile Kufuor government.

The witness told the court presided over by Justice John Najet-Assan when she gave her evidence-in-chief, led by Cynthia Lamptey, a principal state attorney, that because she was due to travel shortly, she could not counter the opinion by other lawyers that Woyome deserved the payment.

Narrating events leading to the payment of the said amount to Woyome, the lawyer noted that in March 2010, the Finance Minister received a letter from former A-G Betty Mould-Iddrisu instructing the payment of two percent of 1.2billion in connection with a contract the accused person claimed to have had with the government.

However it turned out that the state had no contract with Woyome, who is on GH20million bail.

Ms Ghunney said she took a good look at it and observed that he had no contract with the government but due to the fact that she was about to travel, she forwarded for consideration the memo in which she calculated the two percent for the accused person.

The witness noted that due to the little time she had, she could not advise the Finance Minister on the payment.

According to her, later, a certain Angela Herman from the A-G advised that the payment should be reversed.

When asked by Ms Lamptey why the initial payment was reversed, Ms Ghunney said she was out of the country when she received a call from a lawyer that a lady at the Treasury, a certain Mary, also called to ask who should be paid the amount because Austro-Invest and Woyome were both demanding payment. She noted that Mary even said there was no contract to support the payment.

She said she could not say if the said amount was paid, and to whom it was paid because she was out of the country.

Ms. Ghunney said on her return from the journey, nothing was heard from the A-G on the payment until the Finance Ministry later received a letter from the A-G instructing them to pay a default judgment of a little over GH51.2 million to Woyome.

Furthermore, she stated that the ministry decided to settle the matter with Woyome and explained that while Mr. Woyome and his lawyer wanted the whole amount paid at once, they told them that it would not be possible.

Ms Ghunney said Woyome cautioned that if the money was not paid within three months, he would ask for interest to be paid on the amount; but they were able to pay the GH51.2 million default judgment within the specified time.

In addition, she stated that they came to an agreement with Woyome to have the payment made in three tranches of GH17million, after which Woyome said if they failed to pay on time he would demand interest.

Ms Ghunney was emphatic that all the GH51.2million was paid to Woyome.

The witness, under cross-examination by Osafo Boabeng, said the amount received by Woyome was in default of judgment and said there was no payment apart from that of the default judgment.

She also observed that it was the A-G who made the recommendation and the Finance Ministry only approved the payment.

In response to whether or not she was aware that there was a civil action by the A-G on the same payment saga, the witness said she was not aware.

She said she only read about a consent judgment from the press but did not know that for a fact and whether or not it had been set aside.

The witness also said she would be surprised if in spite of the pendency of the civil action, some of the amount had been paid.

The case had been adjourned to June 14, 2012.

The state entered a nolle prosequi on the case at the last hearing and freed three of Woyomes suspected accomplices while the NDC financier alone was re-arrested and charged with wilfully causing financial loss to the state to tune of GH51.28million and defrauding by false pretences.

The other three, Samuel Nerquaye-Tetteh, a Chief State Attorney, his wife Gifty Nerquaye-Tetteh and Paul Asimenu, Legal Director at the Ministry of Finance, were standing trial with Woyome, but they were let off the hook by the Judge, Justice John Ajet-Nassan, in compliance with the state counsels wishes.

Woyome, according to the prosecutor, made fraudulent misrepresentation to the state when he had no contract with the Ghana government in connection with the stadia rehabilitation projects for CAN 2008 in Accra and Kumasi.

Woyome has denied any wrongdoing and is on a GH20million bail with three sureties; but this time would not report to the police twice a week, which was the case under the previous bail conditions.
Source: Fidelia Achama/D-Guide

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