General News of 2014-07-30

Woyome case not over - Lawyer Anyenini

Even though the Supreme Court has ruled that the Ghc51.2 million judgement debt paid to embattled businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome is illegal, the Economic, Financial and Tax Court 2 of the Accra High Court hearing the case will have to determine if the money was procured fraudulently, a legal practitioner, Mr Samson Lardy Anyenini has said.

For him, Ghanaians can rejoice that the Ghc51.2 million is to be paid back to state coffers, but the ruling did not nail Woyome faster into jail.

“Having gotten this specific order directed at Woyome as well, unlike the original case the judgment for which he appears to have been mistakenly not fixed with some liability because of the pendency of another case, I should think best approach to be adopted by the state in recovering the money should now be a straight process,” Mr Anyenini stated.

He was of the view that even though the state had filed a fresh writ in the High Court in pursuit of the money, now it should be able to simply file an entry of judgement directed at Woyome and have same enforced without further delay.

He believes that the prosecution would certainly waive both the June 2013 and July 2014 decisions to seek to frustrate his major and only reliance on what he deems a valid contract, but which one can say has twice been declared invalid for its unconstitutionality due to lack of prior parliamentary approval.

Mr Anyenini asked whose fault it was, saying it would have been declared valid and constitutional if same had received parliamentary blessing.

“This certainly may shake the foundation of his rightful acquisition of the funds. But the big question being determined in the criminal, not this civil/constitutional, case is whether or not he received the funds fraudulently.

“So you see, the defence may also use these same decisions for its most likely stronger purposes in trying to diffuse the claim that he got the money fraudulently.

“That’s if he does really rely heavily on the said contract for rescue in the criminal case,” he stated.

“But wait, the 1st declaration speaks of ‘a purported’ contract ‘arising out of’ agreements which were not placed before parliament. I think that's how it ought to be properly read. If it is so, then it changes the game entirely and potentially makes his case an even difficult one to the extent that the right interpretation is that the agreements that are declared not to have been placed before parliament do not relate to the one upon which the then AG ordered the payments to Woyome,” he said

Mr Anyenini explained that people must know that the onus is on the prosecution to prove the alleged fraud beyond reasonable doubt.

On the other hand, he said the work of the defence, in the main, is to cast a scintilla of doubt and which doubt, by the requirements of law, ought to inure to the benefit of the accused.

The legal practitioner said it is very important to note that the two are two separate cases and not the same, and so the outcomes so far ought not be prejudicially imposed on the ongoing civil or criminal cases, despite the obvious potential collateral effect.

The Supreme Court has ordered Mr Alfred Agbesi Woyome, a businessman, to refund to the state the Ghc51.2 million he received as judgement debt.

The Court ruled that Mr Woyome had no valid contract to be paid that amount of money and further declared that the conduct of the then Attorney General in ordering the payment of the money was illegal.

The 11-member panel, headed by Her Ladyship Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, also states that the High Court that awarded the payment to Woyome was also wrong.

The judgement follows a review of the court's own earlier decision sought by former Attorney-General Martin Amidu, who insisted that Woyome, like Waterville and Isofoton, had no valid contract to be paid any amount by the state in judgement debt.

The former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice requested the Supreme Court to review aspects of its decision which failed to order a businessman, Mr Alfred Woyome, to refund Ghc51.2 million he received from the government in the form of judgement debt.

The applicant (Mr Amidu) urged the court to reconsider its decision not to hold the Attorney-General and the country representative of Isofoton S.A., an energy firm which was ordered to refund $325,472 to the state, liable.

According to the Supreme Court, which gave its judgements on two separate occasions, the government’s contract with the construction firm, Waterville Holdings Limited (BVI), and the Spanish energy firm Isofoton S.A. were unconstitutional and, therefore, null and void.

The Supreme Court on June 14, 2013 directed Waterville Holdings to refund all monies paid to it by the Ghana government on the premise that it had no valid and constitutional contractual agreement with the government.

Waterville is expected to refund €25 million it received from the government following the court’s unanimous judgement that the said contract it entered into with the government for stadia construction for CAN 2008 was unconstitutional because it had contravened Article 181 (5) of the 1992 Constitution, which required such contracts to go to Parliament for approval.

In the other judgement, the court on June 21, 2013 ordered Isofoton S.A. to refund the cedi equivalent of $325,472 it received from the government in March 2011.

The court also directed the company to refund all monies it had so far received from the government on the grounds that the agreements resulting in the payments were unconstitutional and, therefore, null and void.

The Court, however, refused to grant some of the reliefs sought by Mr Amidu in his review application.

Source: The Finder
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