A new High Court judge, Justice Elfreda Amy Dankyi, has taken over the case involving a former Minister of Works and Housing, Alhaji Collins Dauda, and four others facing 52 counts of causing financial loss of $200m to the state over the Saglemi Affordable Housing Project.
This is because Justice Comfort Tasiame, who presided over the case when the accused persons first appeared in court during legal vacation, is on leave and as a result, Justice Dankyi will be the presiding judge to determine the merits of the case in order not to delay the wheels of justice.
When the case was called last Monday, the state, represented by a Chief State Attorney, Mrs Evelyn Keelson, informed the new judge that prosecution would need six weeks to file its disclosures and witness statements.
The presiding judge ordered prosecution to file all relevant documents before December 22 this year, a date set by the court for Case Management Conference (CMC).
In August this year, the former minister, his successor, Dr Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah; the Chief Director at the ministry from 2009 to 2017, Alhaji Ziblim Yakubu; the Executive Chairman of Construtora OAS, the Brazilian company which constructed the affordable housing project at Saglemi, Andrew Clocanas, and a director of RMS, the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) consultancy subcontractor, Nouvi Tetteh Angelo; pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and were admitted to bail in various sums under various conditions
The charges include wilfully causing financial loss to the state, misapplying public property, issuing false certificates and dishonestly causing loss to public property.
Dauda is currently on a self-recognisance bail.
Dr Agyeman-Mensah and Alhaji Yakubu are on a bail of $65 million each with three sureties.
Clocanas is on a bail in the sum of $179 million with three sureties while Angelo is on a $13 million bail with three sureties.
The facts, as presented by the A-G, were that in August 2012, the then President, John Dramani Mahama, granted an Executive approval to the Housing Ministry for the construction of 5,000 affordable housing units, to be known as the Saglemi Affordable Housing Project.
The housing units, to be executed by Construtora OAS Ltd, were to be sold to workers through mortgage arrangements provided by the then Ghana Home Loans Company.
Mr Dame said the project was funded by Credit Suisse following parliamentary approval.
Mr Dame said on February 27, 2014, Dauda, without parliamentary approval, reviewed the EPC agreement and signed both the original and the revised (restated) agreement with Construtora OAS, represented by Clocanas.
The revision allegedly changed the scope of works and the application of the $200 million approved by Parliament, the A-G said.
Credit Suisse, he said, disbursed the $198 million ($200 million less fees and transaction expenses) into the Escrow Account and the 40 per cent advanced payment to Construtora OAS effected on February 27, 2013.
He said the contractor failed to apply the amount towards the intended purpose.
On December 21, 2016, he said, Yakubu again reviewed the original and revised (restated) agreement and signed them (second and his revised or restated), without recourse to Parliament.
That led to a further reduction in the scope of works to 1,412 housing units at a revised price of $181 million and extended the completion period to July 31, 2017, the A-G alleged.
Payment for no work
The prosecution further alleged that series of payments were made to the contractor and sub-contractors for no work done.