Woyome:  I’ll refund GH¢51.2m to State by end of year

Woyome: I’ll refund GH¢51.2m to State by end of year

The leading counsel for Mr Alfred Agbesi Woyome, the businessman who was recently acquitted and discharged on two counts of defrauding by false pretence and causing financial loss to the state, yesterday assured the Supreme Court that his client had agreed to refund the GH¢51.2 million he wrongfully procured from the State by the end of the year.

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According to Mr Osafo Buabeng, his legal team was holding discussions with the Attorney-General’s (A-G’s) Department to enable his client to speed up processes elsewhere to repay the amount.

Mr Buabeng gave the undertaking after the court had granted an application by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice for the enforcement of its July 29, 2014 judgement, which ordered Mr Woyome and Waterville Holdings (BVI) Limited to refund GH¢51.2 million and 25 million euros, respectively, paid to them by the State in 2010.

Mr Woyome himself was not in court to confirm what his counsel said.

According to the court, presided over by the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, the nine-member panel did not find any substantive legal ground to reject the application.

Other members of the panel were Mr Justice William Atuguba, Mr Justice Julius Ansah, Mrs Justice Sophia Adinyira, Mr Justice Jones Dotse, Mr Justice Anin Yeboah, Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Mr Justice N.S. Gbadegbe and Mr Justice A. A. Benin.

Mr Buabeng, however, expressed misgivings about the motive of the A-G, who wanted directives from the Supreme Court to retrieve the money when the court’s ruling on the matter had been clear and unambiguous.

Background

A former Attorney-General, Mr Martin Alamisi Amidu, procured the judgement against Woyome on July 29, 2014, resulting in the A-G’s Department initiating processes at the Commercial Court for the recovery of the amount.

The Supreme Court had ordered Woyome to refund the GH¢51.2 million to the state on the grounds that he had got the money out of unconstitutional and invalid contracts between the state and Waterville Holdings Limited in 2006 for the construction of stadia for CAN 2008.

It held, in a unanimous decision, that the contracts upon which Woyome made and received the claim were in contravention of Article 181 (5) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana which requires such contracts to be laid before and approved by Parliament.

The court had also, on June 14, 2013, directed the international construction firm, Waterville Holdings Limited, to refund all the money paid to it by the government on the premise that it had no valid and constitutional contractual agreement with the government.

That was because it had contravened Article 181 (5) of the 1992 Constitution, which requires such contracts to go to Parliament for approval.

It declared as null and void and of no operative effect a contract titled: “Contract for the Rehabilitation (Design, Construction, Fixtures, Fittings and Equipment) of a 40,000 Seating Capacity Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi, Ghana” entered into between the Republic of Ghana and Waterville Holdings Limited of P.O. Box 3444, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, on April 26, 2006.

The court further declared as null and void and of no legal effect proceedings at the High Court (Commercial Division) that entertained a suit brought against the state by Woyome on April 19, 2010.

Original suit

Mr Amidu had, in the original suit, prayed the court to order Woyome to refund the money he had received as a result of the void contract the government had entered into with Waterville Holdings.

But the court declined jurisdiction over the issue, with the reason that the A-G was pursuing the matter at the Commercial Court to retrieve the money, but the court reversed its position on July 29, 2014 and quashed all processes at the Commercial Court.

The State was represented by Mrs Dorothy Afriyie Ansah, a Chief State Attorney. 

Also present was Mr Martin Amidu.

 

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