Ato Forson case: A-G to drop case against former Chief Director of Ministry of Health

Ato Forson case: A-G to drop case against former Chief Director of Ministry of Health

The Attorney-General (A-G) has indicated an intention to file a nolle prosequi to discontinue the prosecution of Dr Sylvester Anemana, a former Chief Director of the Ministry of Health. 

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Dr Anemana is standing trial with the Minority Leader and former Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, and businessman, Richard Jakpa, for allegedly causing financial loss of €2.37 million to the state in a deal to purchase 200 ambulances for the country between 2014 and 2016.

The three accused persons have pleaded not guilty to five counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state, abetment to wilfully causing financial loss to the state in contravention of the Public Procurement Act and intentionally misapplying public property.

At yesterday’s hearing, the prosecutor, Richard Gyambibi, a principal state attorney, informed the Accra High Court, presided over by Justice Afia Serwaah Asare-Botwe, about the A-G’s intention to file a nolle prosequi in respect of Dr Anemana.

Medical treatment

Dr Anemana has been seriously ill since the trial started in 2022 and is currently receiving treatment in India after the court permitted him and released his passport.

Owing to the unavailability of the accused person, the court decided to allow him or any of his witnesses to testify through a video link.

At yesterday’s hearing, the wife of Dr Anemana, who is with him in India, told the court through the video link that her husband was unable to testify because he was in a surgical ward and was undergoing a series of tests.

Given that, Justice Asare-Botwe directed the lawyer for Dr Anemana, Owureidu Danquah, to prepare his next witness in case Dr Anemana was unable to testify at the next adjourned date.

Nolle prosequi

Right after the court gave the direction, Mr Gyambibi told the court that the A-G intended to file a nollle prosequi to discontinue the case against Dr Anemana.

Present in court was the A-G and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, Under Section 54 of the Criminal and Other Offences (Procedure) Act, 1960 (Act 30), the A-G can file a nolle prosequi at any stage of criminal proceedings before judgment is delivered.

A nolle prosequi leads to the discharge of the accused person, but he can be subsequently charged with the same charge since he has not been acquitted.

After the prosecutor indicated the intention of the A-G to file a nolle prosequi, Justice Asare-Botwe directed Mr Jakpa, the third accused person, to open his defence.

Hearing continues on Tuesday, March 12, 2024.

Prosecution’s facts

Per the facts of the case presented by the prosecution, in 2009 while delivering the State of the Nation Address, the then President, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, indicated that new ambulances would be purchased to expand the operations of the National Ambulance Service.

The facts said, Jakpa, who is a local representative of Big Sea General Trading Ltd, a company based in Dubai, subsequently approached the Ministry of Health with a proposal that he had arranged for finance from Stanbic Bank for the supply of 200 ambulances to the government.

Parliament approved the financing agreement between the government and Stanbic Bank.

According to the facts, on November 19, 2012, Dr Anemana wrote to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) seeking approval to engage Big Sea through single sourcing for the supply of the 200 ambulances.

The facts added that on August 7, 2014, Dr Forson wrote to the Bank of Ghana for Letters of Credit covering €3.95 million for the supply of 50 ambulances in favour of Big Sea.

The Letters of Credit were accordingly released to Big Sea.

It is the case of the prosecution that 10 of the ambulances delivered under the deal on December 16, 2014, were fundamentally defective with some not even having any medical equipment in them, causing a financial loss to the state.

Writer’s email: [email protected]

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