Opinions Thu, 12 Nov 2009

Did A-G Mislead Mills?

Mabey & Johnson Bribery Allegation

Recent eye-opening developments are raising questions as to whether the Minister of Justice & Attorney General, Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu did her homework well enough in the matter of the Mabey & Johnson bribery allegation against former Health Minister, Dr. George Adja Sepa-Yankey and others before advising President John Evans Atta Mills on the matter.

Dr. Sepa-Yankey resigned from the Mills-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government after the Attorney General advised the President on the matter of the Mabey and Johnson bribery allegation, following a visit by her to the United Kingdom to gather the facts of the case, which was supposed to have formed the basis of her advice to the President.

Dr. Sepa-Yankey, presumably the best performing minister in the Mills government at the time, resigned from the government to save it and the President the agony of insurmountable political pressure from the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).

He also said he resigned because he wanted to have time to fight to clear his name of the unsubstantiated allegations levelled against him.

The former Minister of Health, resigned from the government within three days after the return of the Attorney General from her fact gathering mission in the UK and subsequent legal advice to the President on the matter. The President without hesitation accepted the resignation of Dr. Sepa-Yankey and referred the matter to the Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) for investigation.

Documents currently in the possession of The Catalyst however suggest that Dr. Sepa-Yankey, who has just returned from the UK where he took the fight to his accusers in a bid to clear his name, cannot be said to be culpable by any stretch of the imagination regarding the Mabey & Johnson bribery allegation. Beleaguered Dr. Sepa-Yankey’s lawyers, Bates Wells & Braithwaite London LLP, in the UK have managed to pin the British Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to the wall to reluctantly admit that the issue of the Mabey & Johnson bribery still remains a mere allegation as far as their client (Dr Sepa-Yankey) is concerned. The British SFO could not provide any proof of payment of bribes to Dr. Sepa-Yankey by Mabey & Johnson.

In two separate responses to letters fired to the SFO, which has accused Dr. Yankey of bribery in a fact gathering exercise to nail Mabey & Johnson for admitted bribery in third world countries around the world to win government contracts in the 1990s, the director of the British SFO, Richard Alderman, confirmed the innocence of Dr. Sepa-Yankey in the Mabey & Johnson case. The first letter from the SFO Director dated 28th October 2009, in response to demands made by Dr. Yankey’s lawyers’ states in part “I note the comments you make on behalf of your client. The hearing before the judge at Southwark Crown Court proceeded on the basis of pleas of guilty by the company and agreements about the facts. Your client was not before the court as a defendant.”

Then in his second response in a letter dated 2nd November 2009, the SFO Director again had this to say among others. “I can confirm that the hearing proceeded on the basis of facts agreed between Prosecution and the Defence. There was no oral evidence leading to a determination of the facts by the judge. This was unnecessary because of the guilty pleas.”

Many people are demanding an explanation from the A-G and the government as to why Dr. Yankey’s resignation was accepted by the President.

As the chief legal adviser to the President, it is assumed that the A-G had the full facts of the case before deciding to advice the President.

It is not too clear as to exactly what evidence the Attorney General went to gather in the UK apart from what was already in the public domain at the time and now confirmed to Dr Sepa-Yankey’s lawyers, that convinced her and the government of the possibility that Dr. Sepa-Yankey in particular could be found culpable, which led to the speedy acceptance of his resignation by the President.

If the response given to demands made to the British SFO by Dr Sepa-Yankey’s lawyers as shown in current documents available to The Catalyst are anything to go by, then we are at a loss as to what kind of evidence the Attorney General got from the same source upon which she advised the President that might have informed the President’s decision to accept the resignation of the man who was acclaimed as the best minster in his government.
Columnist: The Catalyst