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General News Fri, 16 Nov 2001

Former First Lady's Name Pops Up At Fast Track Court

The name of Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, the President of the 31 December Women's Movement, came up in the Fast Track Court yesterday when fresh charges of bribery and corruption were preferred against Mesdames Sherry Ayittey, Sati Ocran, and two others.

The two others jointly charged with the 31 December Women kingpins are the former Chief Executive of the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC), Mr Emmanuel Agbodo, and Casely-Hayford, an engineer.

They have all pleaded not guilty to the various charges and are on bail.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr. Osafo Sampong, earlier in the day had dashed to the Imoro Ziblim circuit court where the accused were standing trial and informed the court that he was withdrawing the case against the accused persons and that they should be discharged.

However, minutes after the Circuit Court had discharged the accused persons, fresh charges were preferred against them and they were arraigned before the Fast Track court where the involvement of Nana Konadu in the offences was mentioned.

Presenting the facts of the case the Director of PublicProsecutions Mr.

Osafo Sampong, presenting the facts before Justice Amonoo- Monney, a Court of Appeal judge sitting as an additional High Court judge, said that a meeting was arranged with Nana Konadu to decide of how to help a French company to win the divestiture of Ghana Rubber Estates Limited.

Mr. Osafo Sampong said that at the meeting the 31st DWM agreed that Madam Sherry Ayittey, who was also a member of the DIC, should take full control of the negotiations with the French company and collect $ I million from the French company to the 31st DWM before GREL is handed over to them.

Sherry Ayittey who faces seven charges alone on corruption was also asked by the DWM to negotiate 15 percent of the shares from the French Company as dividends for DWM if the deal went through.

According to the prosecution the cash was subsequently withdrawn and the money delivered to Dr. Albert Owusu Banafo, Consultant of GREL and that a total amount of $ 800. 000 was paid to Ayittey .

The prosecution said that Sherry Ayittey clinched the deal involving Mr Dan Abodakpi, the former Minster of Trade and Industry, who was also a member of the DI C, adding that about 70 million was given to Casely-Hayford to be given to Abodakpi.

The former boss of the DIC, Mr Emmanuel Agodo, was given 15 million cedis to influence him on the divestiture, because he was perceived to be proving difficult in the transaction.

Giving the background of the case which led to the divestiture of GREL, Mr Osofo Sampong said that one Kwame Awuah Asante had informed the police that certain sums of money were stolen in GREL and that upon investigation it was discovered that over 2 billion cedis had been withdrawn from GREL and given to Dr Banafo.

The prosecution said because of this huge withdrawal of cash from the company's account, the company ran into financial difficulties and with the assistance of loans from the French government as part of the rehabilitation of GREL, the company was managed by the French company, which later got interested in 75 percent of the shares being divested

The prosecution said Dr. Barnafo, therefore advised the French company to pay good will if they wanted to buy the company, adding that Dr. Barnafo solicited the assistance of the 31st DWM to help the French company win the divestiture, since it had become clear that other companies apart from the French were interested in GREL

Source: Chronicle