General News of Saturday, 15 February 2014
The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, has said she has taken steps to enforce the judgement in the Martin Amidu versus Attorney-General and Waterville, as well as the Martin Amidu versus Attorney-General and Isofoton, case and will continue to pursue it using the appropriate legal processes.
Briefing Members of Parliament (MPs) on steps being taken to recover moneys fraudulently paid to Waterville and Isofotun, Mrs Appiah-Opong said her office had, at various times, filed affidavits in opposition to motions filed by Waterville, filed an application for judgement in default of defence, opposed applications for stay of proceedings pending appeal and issued a writ of summons to the companies involved, all in a bid to recover the moneys.
Mrs Appiah-Opong’s appearance on the floor of the House was at the instance of Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu (NPP, Bekwai), who sought to know from her what steps her office had taken to retrieve moneys the two companies had been ordered to pay to the state.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that both Isofoton SA and Waterville Holdings pay back to the Government of Ghana moneys paid them as judgement debts over separate litigations against the state in connection with their alleged contracts.
Waterville was asked to pay 25 million euros while Isofoton was ordered to pay back over $350,000.
Mrs Appiah-Opong said on July 29, 2013, the Attorney-General’s Office issued, in the High Court, a writ of summons and an accompanying statement of claim in a case entitled Attorney-General versus Waterville Holdings (BVI) Limited suit number RPC/13.
The suit was subsequently amended on July 30, 2013.
The suit, she said, claimed the following relief: Recovery of the sum of GH¢47,365,624.40 and interest on the said sum from 2008 till date of final payment.
According to her, the writ was served on Waterville Holdings on August 12, 2013. On August 17, 2013 Waterville, acting through its solicitors, Peasah-Boadu and Company, entered a conditional appearance in the Commercial Court and on October 17, 2013 filed a motion on notice for stay of proceedings pending arbitration, which was fixed for October 30, 2013.
Mrs Appiah-Opong said her office, on October 29, 2013, filed an affidavit in opposition to the motion on stay of proceedings.
In a ruling dated November 6, 2013, she said, the High Court dismissed the motion on notice for stay of proceedings and gave Waterville 14 days to file its defence to the action her office had filed.
Dissatisfied with the ruling of the High Court, Waterville filed a notice of appeal in the court of appeal on November 13, 2013 seeking to overturn the ruling of the High Court.
“On November 22, 2013, not having received a statement of defence from Waterville, this office filed an application for judgement in default of defence, which was fixed for December 4, 2013. This office could not move the application for judgement in default of defence because Waterville had, on November 21, 2013, filed in the High Court an application for stay of proceedings pending appeal, which was fixed for December 4, 2013,” she said.
Mrs Appiah-Opong intimated that on November 28, 2013, her office opposed the application for stay of proceedings pending appeal filed by Waterville and on November 4 counsel for Waterville withdrew the application he had filed and drew the court’s attention to the fact that he had filed an application for stay of proceedings pending appeal in the proper forum, the Court of Appeal.
That new application, she added, was opposed by her office and December 17 was fixed to consider the applications and her opposition.
On January 20, 2014, the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the A-G’s office and dismissed Waterville’s application for stay of proceedings pending appeal.
With regard to the Isofotun case, Mrs Appiah-Opong said on August 22, 2013, her office issued, in the High Court, a writ of summons and an accompanying statement of claim in a case entitled Attorney-General versus Isofoton SA of Montalban Holdings (BVI) per its lawful attorney, suit number AC709/2013.
The writ, she said, claimed the following reliefs: Recovery of the sum of the cedi equivalent of $325,572 received from the government of Ghana and any subsequent payments thereafter made so far pursuant to contracts declared null and void by the Supreme Court; interest on the aforesaid sum from the date of receipt by Isofoton S.A Montalban and costs.
She said several attempts to serve the local agent of Isofoton had been unsuccessful.
On December 3, 2013, she said, her office obtained an order to serve Isofotun and the local agent by substitution and the order was duly effected.
“On January 23, 2014, Isofotun entered conditional appearance per its solicitors, Sory@Law, and on February 6, 2014 filed a notice of motion, application for an order setting aside the plaintiff’s writ of summons and its service thereof through its lawful attorney.
“This application has been fixed for February 19, 2014. Respectfully, the matter is still pending and this office will continue to pursue it using the appropriate legal processes,” she added.
Osei-Owusu’s probing and Adjaho’s firmness Mr Osei-Owusu, after Mrs Appiah-Opong had answered the questions, sought to probe further, asking her what “appropriate legal processes” she had in mind to use to retrieve the moneys for the state.
But she declined to mention the strategy, saying doing that would be tantamount to arming one’s enemy with a dagger to cause harm.
The Speaker, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, reminded members that the case was in court and it was, therefore, inappropriate to ask questions that sought to raise the issues that were before the court.
He firmly restricted follow-up questions.