Mrs. Cecilia Johnson, former General Secretary of 31st December Women’s Movement (31 DWM), and now the Chairperson of the Council of State last Thursday appeared in Court as a witness to give testimony in favor of former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings in the controversial GREL Divestiture trial.
Led in evidence by Sylvia Cudjoe, Counsel for the former First Lady, the Council of State Chairperson told an Accra High Court (Commercial Division), Presided over by Justice George K Koomson that she chanced upon Mr. Ampofo, Dr. Albert Barnafo and Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings and the late Edmund Arnong, in a meeting where she was asked to append her signature to an agreement as a witness.
Recalling the event which she said transpired in 1995, Mrs. Cecilia Johnson said that before she appended her signature as a witness, she made sure all parties concerned had agreed to the terms of the agreement.
She therefore strongly denied a claim that Dr. Barnafo’s signature was forged adding she was “surprised” at the claim of forgery.
During cross-examination, she repeated her earlier testimony and added that she was in a state of shock at the claims of forgery by Dr. Barnafo.
Her testimony that she signed as a witness in the said agreement, confirms a publication a couple of weeks by this paper which in part read that “A copy of the ‘Declaration of Trust’ allegedly executed by Dr. Barnafo on 3rd August 1995, sighted by The New Crusading GUIDE, was witnessed by Mrs. Cecelia Johnson, then the General Secretary of 31 DWM, and now the Chairperson of the Council of State”.
Mrs. Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, President of 31st DWM and Mr. Samuel Appiah-Ampofo, former National Insurance Commissioner, have initiated legal action in the Commercial Division of the High Court of Justice, claiming to be the “sole shareholders” of 15% of the divested shares of GREL which officially stand in the name of a company named NEWGEN INVESTMENTS LTD.!
Mrs. Rawlings and her partner, Mr. Appiah-Ampofo, as plaintiffs, are seeking among others reliefs, a declaration to the effect that the 1st Defendant, Dr. Albert Owusu Barnafo, incidentally a Prosecution Witness in the GREL Divestiture Trial (from November 2001 to April 2005), “was only a BARE TRUSTEE of the 500 shares held by him (Barnafo) in the 3rd Defendant company (NEWGEN INVESTMENTS LTD.)”.
They are also seeking a declaration that “the shares held by the 1st Defendant (Dr. Barnafo) have been validly transferred to the 2nd Plaintiff (Mrs. Rawlings)”.
Providing “further and better particulars” in a “Statement of Claim” attached to the Writ which was filed on October 4, 2013, Mr. Appiah-Ampofo (1st Plaintiff) and Mrs. Rawlings (2nd Plaintiff), contended that “by agreement between the 1st Defendant (Dr. Barnafo) and themselves (Appiah-Ampofo and Mrs. Rawlings), they appointed as a bare trustee the 1st Defendant to hold on their behalf 500 shares of the 3rd Defendant Company (NEWGEN INVESTMENTS LTD) which represents 50% of the issued shares of the company”.
According to them (1st and 2nd Plaintiffs) they subsequently appointed the 1st Defendant as a Director of NEWGEN INVESTMENTS.
Mr. Appiah-Ampofo and Mrs. Rawlings emphasised that “in full acknowledgement of his position as a bare trustee of the shares at issue, by a document titled ‘Declaration of Trust’ executed by the 1st Defendant on 3rd August 1995, the 1st Defendant agreed and confirmed that the consideration for the said 500 shares of the 3rd Defendant Company had been provided by the plaintiffs and accordingly he held those shares as a bare trustee for the plaintiffs”.
They insisted that ever since the execution of the ‘Declaration of Trust’ on 3rd August, 1995 relative to the shareholdings, Dr. Barnafo in his dealings with them (Mrs. Rawlings & Appiah-Ampofo), had “conducted himself as a bare trustee”.
“The plaintiffs therefore say that by virtue of the fact that the 1st Defendant executed the said document titled ‘Declaration of Trust’, and has conducted himself as a bare trustee he is estopped from denying that he held those shares as a bare trustee for the 1st and 2nd Plaintiffs”, argued Mrs. Rawlings and Mr. Appiah-Ampofo.
They also underscored that upon the incorporation of NEWGEN INVESTMENS in June, 1995, the other 50% of the issued shares of the company also amounting to 500 shares of no par value were held by one Edmund Arnong (deceased) who died on 29th August 2008, and that by a Deed of Transfer dated 16th January, 2013, the Administrators of the Estate of the late Edmund Arnong, transferred to Mr. Appiah-Ampofo the said 500 shares in NEWGEN INVESTMENTS LTD.
They further claimed that in the 3rd August, 1995, ‘Declaration of Trust’, Dr. Albert Owusu Barnafo acknowledged and confirmed that they (Plaintiffs) had power to appoint a new trustee in his (Dr. Barnafo’s) place at anytime. Accordingly, Dr. Barnafo allegedly duly executed and deposited with them (Mrs. Rawlings & Appiah-Ampofo an undated transfer of shares deed authorizing them at anytime to transfer the 500 shares held by him to any nominee of their choice.
“The Plaintiffs aver that having executed the said ‘Declaration of Trust’, the 1st Defendant is estopped from denying that the plaintiffs had power and authority to transfer the said 500 shares held by him in trust to any nominee of their choice.
Pursuant to the said authorization the 500 shares held by the 1st Defendant as a bare trustee were all duly transferred to the 2nd Plaintiff (Mrs. Rawlings) on 5th July 2013”, asserted Mrs. Rawlings and Appiah-Ampofo.
However, in a sharp rebuttal of the claims articulated by the 1st and 2nd Plaintiffs in their October 4, 2013 Writ, Dr. Albert Owusu Barnafo, as 1st Defendant, Dehands Services Ltd, as 2nd Defendant and NEWGEN INVESTMENTS LTD, as 3rd Defendant, filed a “Statement of Defence and Counter-Claim” dated October 29, 2013.
They vehemently denied that Mrs. Rawlings and Mr. Appiah-Ampofo are the sole shareholders of NEWGEN INVESTMENTS LTD, a limited liability company incorporated under the laws of Ghana on 28th June 1995.
“The Defendants in further denial state that the Plaintiffs are not and have never been shareholders of the 3rd Defendant Company and are not recognised by the 3rd Defendant Company as its shareholders”, countered Dr. Barnafo and the other Defendants.
They categorically stated that NEWGEN INVESTMENTS LTD was founded by Dr. Barnafo and the late Edmund Arnong who were rather the sole shareholders and not Mrs. Rawlings and Appiah-Ampofo as claimed by the latter two persons in their ‘Statement of Claim’ dated October 4, 2013.
Dr. Barnafo further denied ever executing any agreement to hold 500 shares of NEWGEN INVESTMENTS LTD. as Bare Trustee in favour of Mrs. Rawlings and Appiah-Ampofo.
“The 1st Defendant states categorically that he never executed any trust document in favour of the Plaintiffs, and if there exists any such document then it is averred that, the signature purported to be that of the 1st Defendant was forged by the Plaintiffs themselves with no involvement whatsoever from the 1st Defendant”, emphasized the three (3) Defendants.
They outlined the alleged ‘particulars of fraud’ as follows: (a): “Plaintiffs forging the signature of the 1st Defendant, which clearly lacks the hallmarks of a signature legitimately signed by the 1st Defendant and (b): Plaintiffs forging the Declaration of Trust and Transfer of Shares document and purporting to hold them out as documents validly signed by the 1st Defendant”.
The case has been adjourned to December 11th 2014.
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