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General News of Friday, 29 February 2008

Source: The Statesman

Three face financial loss law

Three people have been arraigned before a Fast Track High Court for stealing and causing financial loss to the State to the tune of over $397,749.25.

The three, Adam Kasule Yakubu, Managing Director of Gbewaa Civil Engineering Limited, George Gorgo Nai, former Chief Director of the Ministry of Works and Housing and Alphonso Laryea, are accused of stealing public money.

They are being charged on eleven counts, including conspiracy to commit crime; misrepresentation of services, deceiving a public officer, defrauding by false pretence, wilfully causing financial loss to the State and abetment of crime.

They pleaded not guilty to all the charges and are to remain on bail terms set by the Serious Fraud Office.

Presenting the facts of the case to the court, Theophilus Cudjoe, a lawyer of the SFO, said Gbewaa Civil Engineering Limited has since 1980 been repairing the Ministry of Works and Housing's dragline excavating machines and had always sold the parts of the machine to the Ministry on requisition basis.

The prosecution said in 1995, the Ministry needed spare parts to repair the machines but due to lack of funds no order was placed. He said in July 1996, the Ministry requested Alhaji Yakubu to pre-finance the purchase of the parts as they needed them urgently, but Alhaji Yakubu was unable to do so and as such invited Kolon UK Ltd through his friend to pre-finance it.

Kolon UK Ltd then decided to deal directly with the Ministry instead of Alhaji Yakubu and on August 3, 1996, entered into an agreement with Kolon UK Ltd for the supply of the spare parts at a cost of $397,749.25.

On August 28, 1996, Cool Mart UK Ltd also entered into an agreement with Kolon UK Ltd for the supply of the same parts to Kolon UK Ltd for $317,655.17 from a German Manufacturer, HBM Nobas.

Prosecution said Alhaji Yakubu who had contacts with the German Company purchased the parts and sold them to Kolon UK Ltd for his five percent profit and Kolon UK Ltd in turn sold the same spare parts to the Ministry.

In February 1997, the spare parts were shipped by Cool Mart Ltd to Tema Harbour under bill of lading Number Cl00 dated February 28, 1997, with notify party as Kolon UK Ltd and second notify as MBH Nobas and Ministry of Works and Housing. Mr Barnor of the MWH endorsed the bill of lading and Gbewaa Limited cleared the parts for the MWH.

Gbewaa Limited therefore wrote to the Ministry for payment of part clearing charges of 14.5 million cedis which was paid to it accordingly. The company cleared the parts to his warehouse and later, transferred same to the Ministry under their waybills. The 180 days period on the receipt of the Bill of Lading as stated in the contract agreement expired and the Ministry failed to honour its promise.

Kolon UK Ltd wrote a series of letters demanding payments from the Ministry, which the Ministry replied, that payment were being processed. Prosecution said Gorgo Nai, Chief Director at the Ministry, who was aware of the contract agreement and demands by Kolon UK Ltd, condoned and connived with Alhaji Yakubu for payments to be made to Gbewaa Limited instead of Kolon UK Ltd.

Alhaji Yakubu contended that in 1995, one of his companies, Mensul Company Ltd, entered into agreement with Kolon International Corporation Ltd, Korea, for the supply of 1000 metric tons of 20,000 bags Vietnamese white, long grain rice at the cost of $396,500. He alleged that on arrival, all the bags of rice became unwholesome, and therefore he would keep the payments for the spare parts as settlement for the cost of the unwholesome rice.

Surprisingly, the Chief Director facilitated the payment of the said money to Alhaji Yakubu without the knowledge and consent of Kolon UK Ltd. Efforts made by Kolon UK Ltd for payment failed and as such they instituted legal action against the Ministry and Government of Ghana in London in 2001.

According to the prosecution, when asked to explain to the Attorney General why he had made payment for the spare parts to Alhaji Yakubu, Mr Nai created the impression that Kolon UK Ltd had not supplied the spare parts to the Ministry but rather to Gbewaa.

Prosecution indicated that the Government of Ghana had to settle Kolon UK Ltd an amount twice more than the purchase price of the spare parts.

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