General News of Wednesday, 20 June 2012
In the Superior Court of Judicature , In The High Court of Justice Financial Crimes Court II Held in Accra On the 12 Day Of June, 2012 Presided Over By His Lordship, Justice John Ajet-Nasam
The Republic vrs Alfred Agbesi Woyome
Accused Person: Present
Legal Representation: Cynthia Lamptey with Evelyn Keelson for the republic
Osafo Buabeng with Musah Ahmed and Chris Koka led by Robertson Kpatsa for the accused person
PW1 – S.O.B IN ENGLISH
Lamptey:Give your full name to the court
Lamptey:What work do you do?
Witness: I work with the
Ministry of Finance as a lawyer.
Lamptey:And what is your schedule at the place?
Witness:I advise the minister and we work on contracts, we do negotiations.
Lamptey:Where do you live?
Witness: I live in Accra
Lamptey:You just told the court that you work with the Legal Department of the Ministry of Finance. In or around March, 2010, were you in office.
Witness:Yes I was.
Lamptey:Do you know the accused person?
Witness:I have met him, yes.
Lamptey:Do you know his name?
Witness:Yes I know his name.
Lamptey:Can you tell the court what his name is?
Witness:Mr. Alfred Woyome
Lamptey:In or around March, 2010 did you come across any issue of his at the Ministry.
Witness:Yes My Lord
Lamptey:Tell the court what that is.
Witness:The Minister referred a letter from the Attorney General's office to me to follow up on
Lamptey:What was the letter about?
Witness: It is a letter from the Attorney General instructing the Ministry to pay a settlement amount to Mr. Woyome.
Lamptey:So when you received the letter from the Minister, what did you do?
Witness:I did a memo to the Minister.
Lamptey: And what was the memo about?
Witness: It summarized the Attorney
General's letter, and the Attorney General instructed that we pay 2% of an amount to Mr. Woyome. So I calculated the 2% and then I put it in the letter as the amount that the Attorney General was asking the Ministry to pay to Mr. Woyome.
Lamptey:Before you continue, when you said the AG, who was the AG. Witness: The Attorney General at the time, Mrs. Betty Mould Iddrisu.
Lamptey: Continue from where you left, you said you calculated the 2%.
Witness:So I put that amount in the memo and then I forwarded it to the Minister for his consideration.
Lamptey:Can you tell the court the amount?
Witness:The amount came to about 22 Million Euro. It was a little about 22million Euro. And then I forwarded the memo to the Minister for his consideration and authorization to pay. Lamptey:When the letter was brought to you and you were asked to study and give your advice, what observation did you make in the docket?
Witness:When I received the docket I picked up the folder, and I did a quick look through it.
Lamptey:I said what was your observation? The observations you made on the Folder.
Witness: On the folder, I didn't make any observations on the folder, but the observations I made on the folder was that there was no contract. And that there was also a letter, I am not quite sure what the year was, which stated that Mr. Woyome was going to provide some services to the Government, but then the government will not be obliged to pay Mr. Woyome for the services.
Lamptey:You earlier mentioned that there was no contract, contract between who and who?
Witness:Contract between Mr. Woyome and the government for payment for the services.
Lamptey:You told the court you gave a memo to the Minister. Was your advice Taken?
Witness:I didn't give the Minister any advice in the memo about that, because I had less than a day to actually look at the folder, I was travelling. And even though there was no contract and there was the letter, other lawyers had looked at the folder and had concluded that there was a basis for the settlement. That is what the Attorney General's letter was, that there was basis for the settlement. So I didn't feel that I had sufficiently reviewed the folder to give any advice about that. I didn't feel that I had had enough time to review the folder to counter what the other lawyers had concluded.
Lamptey:So the accused person was eventually paid the 2%.
Witness: No, he did not, somewhere along the line, the order to pay him the 2% was reversed by the Minister.
Witness:Honourable Kwabena Duffuor, Minister for Finance.
Lamptey:Can you tell the court why it was reversed?
Witness:As I have said, I was travelling, so I was out of the country when one of the lawyers called me that a lady at the treasury had come up with questions about the payment, she has come to the Legal Division. Lamptey: What is the name of your colleague who called you? Witness:Her name is Mrs. Angela Hayman.
Lamptey:And what is the name of the lady who called Angela from the Treasury.
Witness: I only know her as Mary.
Lamptey:So now you had this information from Angela whilst on your trip. what happened after that?
Witness:She told me that the lady from the Treasury was questioning who she should pay the money to, because there seems to be two people who were entitled to the payment. From the document she had, there was an instruction from the Attorney General to pay a company called Astro Invest and Mr. Woyome, and she wasn't sure who to pay that to. And then also there was no contract to support the payment.
Lamptey:So after this information that you received whilst on your trip, what happened again?
Witness: I asked Angela to speak with the Minister.
Lamptey:You have given these instructions to Angela, what else did you do concerning this issue about the accused person.
Witness: After that I didn't have much contact with the case again until I was called again because the Attorney General has sent a letter to Finance That they should pay a default judgment amount to Mr. Woyome.
Lamptey:How much was this amount?
Witness: It was a little over 51 million Ghana Cedis.
Lamptey:So what did you do about this?
Witness: The Minister asked me to settle the matter with Mr. Woyome and his lawyer.
Lamptey:So how did you settle it?
Witness: Because it was such a big amount, I went with them to the Director of Budget, because Mr. Woyomei and his lawyer had wanted the money to come in one lump sum.
Lamptey:What is the name of the Director of Budget?
Witness: Mr. S.P. Kyei.
Lamptey:What transpired when you went to the Director of Budget?
Witness: He informed Mr. Woyomei and his lawyer that it would be impossible to pay 51 Million in one lump sum. And he finally negotiated three (3) payments of 17 Million Ghana Cedis each to be paid over a three months period. And Mr. Woyome and his lawyer indicated that if we could not pay within the three months period, then they will ask for late payment interest.
Lamptey:But did the Ministry eventually pay all the 51 Million Ghana Cedis.
Witness: I believe so, yes.
Lamptey:And what about the interest.
Witness: That was not paid.
Lamptey:My Lord that will be all for the witness.
CROSS EXAMINATION BY COUNSEL FOR THE ACCUSED
Q: Madam, from your evidence you just told the court that the payment was made pursuant to “a default judgment”.
A:Yes My Lord
Q:Did you sight the default the judgment.
A:No My Lord, but the Attorney General wrote a letter.
Q:So you would agree with me that until that “default judgment”, no payment was made by the Republic of Ghana to the accused person. Is that not so.
A:Not that I know of
Q:So as you sit in the box, there has been no other payments apart from what you paid pursuant to the default judgment to the accused. Is that not so.
A: As far as I know, no.
Q:You have told the court that other lawyers had revealed the folder before it got to you. Is that not so.
A:Yes My Lord.
Q:Including the Attorney General.
A:Not the folder, the folder was in the Ministry of Finance, but the Attorney General had revealed their own folder.
Q:That folder which you are talking of, is the folder that eventually was queried by Mary in the Treasury. Is that not so?
A:I am not sure, I was not there, I know Mary questioned the payment, but I don't think she saw the folder, that folder belongs to the Legal Division.
Q:The Legal Division also approved of the payment, it has been recommended to the Minister to pay. Is that not so.
A: Yes My Lord.
Q:That recommendation was not made in a vacuum.
A:I am not sure, I wasn't part of that.
Q:The Minister also approved of the payment to the accused person. Is that not so.
A:I believe so.
Q:So in effect you would agree with me that the Ministry of Justice recommended the payment and the Ministry of Finance approved the payment and paid the accused person.
A:It was not paid, there was no payment by the Ministry of Finance until the default judgment was received.
Q:You told the court that it was paid in three installments, 17, 17, 17. Is that not so.
A:That was the settlement, I am not sure how it was paid.
Q:There was a settlement that the amount was to be paid by installment, in three occasions, 17, 17, 17. Is that not so.
A:Yes My Lord.
Q:When was the first installment paid? Do you remember?
A:No, I wasn't part of the payment process. Once it leaves the Legal Division, then it becomes a matter for the budget to determine.
Q:Are you aware that the Attorney General took up Civil Writ of summons against the accused person in respect of the payment.
A:I am not aware.
Q:So do you know for a fact that there was a consent judgment.
A:What I do know is that we did the settlement, and Mr. Woyome took it to the Attorney General's office and it was filed. That is all I know.
Q:So the settlement, from the evidence was concluded between Mr. Woyome and his lawyer and then Ministry of Finance. Is that not so.
A:Yes My Lord.
Q: And the Ministry agreed with Mr. Woyome and his lawyer, and that is why it was filed; whatever you concluded was filed.
Q:You would agree with me that all these happened after the Ministry had reviewed the whole file.
A:I can't say for sure. I do know that the payment was based on a default judgment.
Q:To the best of your knowledge, has that judgment been set aside, as you sit in the dock.
A:No, I don't know…………..
Q:This default judgment, to the best of your knowledge, has it been compromised.
A:I am not sure what you mean by compromised.
Q:What I mean is, the default judgment that was obtained against the Republic by the accused, you said it has not been set aside.
A:That I don't know
Q:To the best of your knowledge, is the default judgment still in effect.
A:What I know is from the Press. I don't have personal knowledge about it.
Q:Are you aware that somewhere along the line the court granted a Stay of Execution and ordered 17 Million Ghana Cedis to be paid to the accused person. Are you aware?
A:Again that awareness came from the press. I have no personal knowledge of it until I heard it from the press.
Q:So it means whatever took place in the Civil case, you are not well vexed with.
A:No, I am not.
Q:Would you be surprised to hear that the 51 million Ghana Cedis has been paid to the accused, even though the Civil Summons was still pending. It was paid by the Ministry of Finance.
A:Yes I had my word that it has been paid.
Q:I am not asking you whether you are aware. I am asking you that would you be surprised to hear that that amount has been paid in spite of the pendency of the civil case.
A:Yes My Lord.
Q:Why do you say you would be surprised?
A:Because if a case is pending, you don't pay a settlement that is the subject matter of a case. And if the court has issued a stay of the payment, then it would be surprising that it was paid.
Q:Now tell me, you have been with the Ministry of Finance some years now, what is the procedure for payment.
A:The Attorney General will usually instruct us by a letter to pay for a settlement or a judgment debt. He usually instructs by letter that we should pay a settlement of a judgment debt. If it is a judgment debt, we do a memo to the Minister, through a hierarchy to the Minister.
A:The Minister for Finance, whoever it is. To summarize the Attorney General's position and then we submit the memo to the Minister for his consideration and payment authorization. We always look particularly at the interest. Since it is a judgment debt we cannot do anything about the principle, but we always look at the interest payment portion to make sure that the interest is not compounded, if it is compounded, we will look at it and then refer to the Attorney General's office that the interest is compounded, and that we will offer them the simple interest alternative. So that they can offer it to the claimant and that is what we usually pay, the simple interest alternative. If it is settlement we do the same thing, we look at it, we do a memo to the Minister and goes through the same process.
Q: In the case of Mr. Woyome and the 51 million Ghana Cedis, it went through this procedure, the procedure which you have outlined. Is that not so. A:When a default judgment came in, yes.
(SGD) JOHN AJET-NASAM JUSTICE OF THE NIGH COURT