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General News Mon, 19 Nov 2001

Supreme Court decision on Blay’s estate smeared

On October 23, the night before the Supreme Court gave judgement on the seven-year litigation on the estate of Dr. John Ackah Blay-Miezah, a five-page fax indicating that financial backers of the appellants (led by Dr. Ebenezer Ako-Adjei) who are residents of Philadelphia, have been celebrating the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court in their favour, the Weekend Statesman reports.

This is particularly disturbing, given the decision has not been read! Alarmed by this, a copy of the fax was sent to the Chief Justice hours before the ruling, but not before this reporter telephones the number provided on the letterhead, for Templar House Ltd. A private Merchant Bank in Beverly Hills, California and spoke to the chairman, Peter McWilliam. Worse was to come.

McWilliam who described himself as “Attorney-in-fact on behalf of Dr. John Robert Kells,” the respondent, rightly predicted that not only will the decision be unanimous, setting aside both the High Court and Appeal Court decisions, but also the only judge to read the judgment will be J.S.C. Acquah.

This, he said, would “represent both a despicable miscarriage of justice and a tragic turn of events for the nation of Ghana.” To the amazement of the Statesman reporter, the only newsperson present in court on October 24, the 5-0 ruling by a Supreme Court panel of Mrs. Justices Bamford-Addo, Ampiah, Acquah, Atugba and Adjabeng, was read by Justice Acquah, confirming the story of a man thousands of miles away in Los Angeles.

Perhaps Mr. McWilliam, who claims Dr. Kells has actively sought his assistance in “liberating the assets of what was originally established as a secret trust from the controlling grasp of the consortium of depository banks” is most enviably blessed with the foresight of Nostradamus.

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But a look at the apparent shadiness of some of the characters involved in this marathon of mind-boggling multi-billion dollar estate case, and the fact that one side had nigh continually won from 1994, including four interlocutory judgements at the Appeal Court and two at the Supreme Court, up until this decisive Supreme Court ruling, give a least a slight cause of concern.

Blay-Miezah, the man who is causing waves, even more than nine years since his death, is reputed to have left about US$41billion in foreign banks meant for the Republic of Ghana and some individuals.

The Supreme Court gave judgement that a 1988 will in the possession of Mr. Francis Mensah, a cousin of Blay-Miezah, and Dr. Ebenezer Ako Adjei, a minister of the First Republic, was entitled to probate instead of the 1989 will by Dr. Kells, associate of the testator and Mr. Joseph Whaja, Blay-Miezah’s brother.

But the next day, Adumuah Bossman, Dr, Kells’ lawyer served a caveat at the High Court Registry, against the grant of probate to dr. Ako Adjei. Interestingly, two independent forensic experts had given evidence indicating that the 1988 will, presented by Dr. Ako Adjei was a forgery. Being the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court was entitled to overturn the authentication of the later will of 1989 by forensic experts, and accordingly went on to adjudge it to be also a forged document designed by a gang of unscrupulous liars.

More worrying is a sworn affidavit in the possession of The Statesman by a signatory to the 1988, James Yehanyiane Kaku. The oath, sworn on November 20, 1998 states that “at the bottom right hand corner” of the 1988 will “appears my name ‘Kaku’ which I deny having written on the said exhibit dated 8th May 1988.” He said, “I do not remember writing my name thereon and furthermore what appears at the bottom right hand corner is not my signature.” And this is the will ruled by the Supreme Court as entitled to probate.

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Ironically, Kaku had earlier admitted to attesting his signature onto a forged codicil dated 15th June 1992, complementing the 1989 will.

Another basic element of trite law, which seems to have been overlooked by all the eminent jurists involved, in this case is also to do with Mr. Kaku. According to the Statesman, this “witness’ to the 1988 will is also listed in the will as bequeathed a handsome amount of US$2million. However, Act 370, the Wills Act, 1963 of Ghana, clearly stipulates that a witness to a will cannot be a beneficiary. Contravention of this provision renders the Will null and void.

This provision is crucial to protecting the sanctity of this unilateral testimony. For a testator to a will may be an invalid, prone to pressure from careers or family members to leave his estate to them against his or her best wishes. It must be realised that Blay-Miezah died very ill in 1992.

This defective aspect of the 1988 Will, further throws doubt on its authenticity. Also, newspaper reports have been talking about Mr. Gregory Frazier, described as the man slated to bring the billions of dollars down to Ghana.

The paper says it has a document signed by Dr. John Ackah Blay-Miezah, dated January 7, 1991, stating clearly that Mr. Frazier’s appointment as “International Co-ordinator” had been terminated. The termination notice further goes on to say, “This appointment must only befit any person who has respect for the lawful authority of the Sole Beneficiary and Trustee. We wish all success in your endeavours.”

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The battle for the estate, which is reputed to have cost millions of dollars in both legal and ancillary expenses, appears to be far from over. The issue is whether this is not all a phantom chase for monies that might have only existed in the generously rich imagination of the devisor, Blay-Miezah. Indeed, he died with his reputation as a sophisticated conman intact, the paper said.

If the money does really exist, is this nation of ours likely to benefit from the reported US$15billion bequeathed to it? For, with the Will of Dr. Kells, who claims to be the sole trustee of the “original trust deed’ of 1959 rubbished by the court as fraudulent, and a caveat lodged on the seemingly shaky Ako Adjei Will if care is not taken, the funds, if real, will be lost to Ghana forever. In fact, so far only an uncertified photocopy of the 1988 Will and without the necessary appostille has surfaced. The original is said to be deposited with United Overseas Bank, Switzerland.

In December 1988, Dr. Blay-Miezah and Dr. Kwesi Botchway, then Finance Minister, which dictated where and to whom certain large sums would be allocated and paid, signed a lengthy “Payment Directive”.

The paper said, Blay-Miezah notoriously evaded his PNDC minders, ministers including Kojo Tsikata, who had accompanied him to Switzerland with the view to having the assets of Oman Ghana Trust Fund released. Blay-Miezah is said to have squeezed his heavy frame through a window at the resplendent offices of UBS, Zurich. Upon his return to Ghana, he was placed under house arrest in his palatial mansion at Abelenkpe, Accra where he died in June 1992.

Source: NewsInGhana