‘Presidency knew of payment to Woyome’
The acting Chief Director of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice, Mr Suleiman Ahmed, has confirmed to the Financial Division of the High Court sitting in Accra that the office of the late President J.E.A. Mills and the former Chief of Staff, Mr Victor Martey Newman, had been aware of the payment of judgement debt to businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
Mr Ahmed, who was answering questions under cross-examination by counsel for Woyome, Mr Osafo Buabeng, also admitted that per the records, the Director of the Legal Department of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Paul Asimenu, wrote to the Attorney-General to advise that the claim by Woyome was justified and, therefore, he was entitled to the judgement debt.
The acting chief director said according to records, a letter dated April 29, 2009 was also written by the Attorney-General, addressed to the Minister of Finance and copied to the Chief of Staff to that effect.
Office of Former President Aware of Payment
When Mr Buabeng asked Mr?Ahmed whether it would be right to say that the office of the late President had knowledge of that letter, Mr Ahmed replied in the affirmative.
He also confirmed that the letter was sent to the office of the Chief of Staff before the first instalment was paid to Woyome.
Counsel for Woyome told the court that there was another letter by the Attorney- General which stated that Woyome and Astro-Invest should be paid GH¢41,811,480.51 and that letter was copied to the Chief of Staff.
He then asked the witness whether it was the case that every step taken by Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu was known by the Chief of Staff. “Yes, as far as the records are concerned,” he replied.
Payment of judgement debt to Mr Woyome started in 2010
Mr Ahmed told the court in an answer to a question that the first instalment of the money was paid to Woyome in 2010, with the rest paid in 2011.
He said at the time the balance was paid, it was Mr Martin Amidu who was in office as Attorney-General.
When asked whether Mr Amidu objected to the payment, he said he had not sighted any letter from Mr Amidu asking the Ministry of Finance to stop the payment.
He also said the Chief of Staff also did not object to the payment to Woyome. Earlier in his evidence-in-chief, Mr Ahmed had told the court that Woyome was paid the judgement debt in three instalments.
Before the payment was effected, he said, the Ministry of Finance engaged lawyers for the accused person on the mode of payment and the parties agreed that payment of GH¢17,094,483.53 in three equal instalments, amounting to GH¢51,283,449, should be made.
He explained that per the agreement, the first, second and third instalments were scheduled to be paid in the first week of July 2010, the end of July 2010 and the end of August 2010, respectively, according to a letter signed by a former Attorney-General, Mrs Mould-Iddrisu.
Mr Ahmed added that the mode of payment was formally communicated to the parties by a letter signed by the acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Finance and copied to the Attorney-General.
He pointed out that the Finance Minister at the time, Dr Kwabena Duffour, instructed the Controller and Accountant-General in a letter to pay the negotiated amount to Woyome through the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB House) in Accra.
Mr Ahmed is the eighth prosecution witness in the case, presided over by Mr Justice John Ajet–Nasam.
Woyome has, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges and is currently on a GH¢20 million bail.
The case was adjourned to October 16, 2013.