Whereas many individuals and organizations collect from the state money awarded them by courts as judgment debt to the last pesewas, businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome dashed Ghana GH¢54 million out of the GH ¢105 million he was awarded as judgement debt by a Commercial High Court in Accra in 2010.
Continuing his evidence-in-chief yesterday at an Accra Fast Track High Court which is trying him for allegedly defrauding the state, Mr Woyome said he obtained a default judgement against the State when he dragged the Ministry of Finance and the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice to a Commercial court to compel them to pay him 2% of the total amount of money they had earlier settled on during negotiation based on the total amount of €1,106,470,587.00 he had secured through financial engineering as funding for certain government projects for the CAN 2008 tournament Ghana was hosting. He indicated that he then amended his claim from two per cent to four per cent of the total amount arranged.
According to him, before he and his lawyers could proceed to execute the judgement, the Attorney-General contacted him and his lawyers and told them government had wanted to know the specific role he played in the financial arrangement. He was asked to explain in detail, in writing, the cost he had incurred. He was asked to bring the response in forty-eight hours.
Mr. Woyome said his lawyers complied and subsequently prepared the necessary documents and delivered them to the Attorney-General.
He said at a meeting later on between the A-G on one hand and he and his lawyers on the other hand, the A-G informed them that a committee had been set up at the Castle, Osu, by the Chief of Staff, Henry Martey Newman and that he and his lawyers should appear before it. The head of the committee was a Deputy Chief of Staff, Alex Segbefia.
Meeting With Alex Segbefia
He said they (he and his lawyer) went to the Castle and met the committee. Alex Segbefia requested for more copies of the relevant documents containing his claims. He was furnished accordingly. His co-Deputy chief of Staff, Valerie Sawyer, as well as the Chief of Staff himself were also furnished with the documents.
Mr. Woyome said they had a lengthy discussion with Alex Segbefia explaining the whole issue to him, backing their claim with documents. Three days later, Alex Segbefia called him back to the Castle and told him President Atta Mills had ordered that he (Woyome) should go back to the A-G and negotiate the default judgment.
Another Meeting And Further Negotiations With the A-G
The businessman said he and his lawyer, Peasah Boadu, later met the A-G who informed them that the government had decided not to pay anything else apart from the 2% of the €1,106,470,587.00 which was earlier negotiated and agreed on.
He said he explained that he could not accept the 2% again because based on that percentage, he took loans from two local banks to pay off other consultants in America for the services they rendered in the financial engineering through syndication of funds at the New York Stock Exchange for Bank Austria. He explained that the loans contracted from the local banks had accrued interest therefore the 2% was no longer adequate.
“I also explained and showed evidence that I had lost a property along the Potomac river in the US and therefore the two per cent will not help me defray my costs and pay the banks so my position has changed.”
He said after further discussions with the A-G, he and his lawyers agreed to forego to the state GH¢54 million of the amount due him. The A-G signed the agreement entered into on behalf of the State. This was filed at the Commercial Court stating that though the court had ruled in default judgement for him to be paid GH¢105 million, he was ready to accept over GH¢49 million with interest.
A-G’s Turn Around
Subsequently, he pointed out, they asked for the money but the A-G suddenly filed a process at the court for a stay of execution claiming everything at that stage was arrived at by ‘mistake’.“This for me was strange and was in bad faith so I agreed to contest the case.”
First Ruling In His Favour
He said before the case started, the court ruled that since the State had already agreed on a timetable to pay, and payment of the first trench, GH¢17,094,493.53, had already elapsed. This must be paid with interest before the case will be heard. The court also ruled that he, Woyome, must give an undertaking to refund the money paid him should he lost the case.
Based on that ruling, the State paid the money into his ADB account which he had given them earlier. He asserted that he quickly defrayed the debt owed the two local banks with the money.
Mr Agbesi Woyome said as the case continued, interest accrued on the rest of the unpaid money so the government, voluntarily, through the A-G called for a pre-trial conference at the Commercial Court and asked him and his lawyers to present a proposal to the Finance Ministry and a timetable to be agreed upon for the remainder of the principals to be paid. This, they did.
He said he later met the Minister of Finance and who asked the legal department at his Ministry to negotiate the trenches and how the amount will be paid in each trench.
He disclosed that the Ministry thereafter wrote to him and his lawyers confirming the payments and times for the monies to be paid as proposed in the trenches.
In that period, he stated, there was a cabinet reshuffle and the A-G, Mrs Betty Mould Iddrisu was reassigned to the Ministry of Education and Martin Amidu became the new Attorney-General. The negotiated amount (the principal) was however paid.
The case is adjourned to June 25 and 26.