– GHc51m Judgement Debt Saga
…Gives Gloria Akuffo A Long Rope And She Is Hanging Herself
That Ghana’s Attorney General, Gloria Afua Akuffo, appears to be too clumsy for the portfolio she occupies, is not hard to see.
Selfsame Gloria Akuffo who has managed to remain ignorant about the $2.25billion bond issuance by the Finance Minister even though her ministry is only a stone’s throw from the Finance Ministry, is also the one who filed nolle prosequi over the broad daylight overthrow of a court’s adjudication for lack of evidence.
Late last week, however, the clumsiness apparently took a turn for the ridiculous when the Attorney General’s Office leaked a document on a case involving businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
The International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce on 3rd August, 2017, declined arbitration in the infamous Woyome judgment debt case and on that very day, copies of the letter communicating this to the AG was circulating on social media.
The next day, 4th August, the intention behind the leak became clearer when the letter informed banner headline stories on front pages of pro-government newspapers.
Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome has, in a reaction to the leakage, underscored that he did not leak the letter.
However, as the government and its media celebrated the court’s decline to arbitrate, apparently in the presumption that the NPP government has scored an important victory against Mr. Woyome, the businessman dropped a bombshell.
According to him, the court’s decision was what he had expected and prayed for, as that decision serves to make nonsense of a judgment of Ghana’s Supreme Court which denied Mr. Woyome’s entitlement to the Ghc51million judgment debt paid him in 2010.
“The decision as per ICC’s article 6(4) means that the case does not meet minimum requirement of the ICC for arbitration. Any decision apart from the above would have surprised this office.
“What the decision actually means is that, Alfred Agbesi Woyome is not a signatory to/beneficiary of the 2006 Waterville Contracts with the Government of Ghana and cannot therefore come before the ICC for arbitration based on those Contracts. In fact, Alfred Agbesi Woyome sued Government on the basis of the illegal cancellation of the procurement process of CAN 2008 that took place in 2005 and not 2006 Contract GoG signed with Waterville.
In July 2014, Ghana’s Supreme Court had ruled that Mr. Woyome was not entitled to the judgment debt because the debt was linked to Waterville’s abrogated contract with government to construct stadia for CAN 2008. The invalidation of the contract was on the basis that it had not been approved by Ghana’s Parliament, Waterville being an offshore company.
The interesting thing is that Mr. Woyome’s disagreement with the Supreme Court judgment disentitling him of the money, which led to his pursuit of the matter at the international court, is that his claim against government is not on the basis of the Waterville contract, but on the basis of an abrogation of a tendering process.
That abrogation which had happened belatedly after Mr. Woyome had, with the approval of government, put together a consortium and successfully engineered over 1billion euros for the CAN 2008 project, cost him money in the form of loan arrangement cost. It is this money he wants back.
Mr. Woyome’s approach to the ICC was deliberate, as he reveals – he aimed for the ICC to come to the very conclusion that the court has come to – that because GoG had no contract with Mr. Woyome, he lacked locus to come for arbitration. This decision makes nonsense of Ghana’s Supreme Court’s judgment disentitling Mr. Woyome of the money because Mr. Woyome’s claim is supposedly linked to the Waterville contract.
Per the ICC, Mr. Woyome’s claim cannot be linked to the contract of Waterville! This is trouble for the whole nation that the Attorney General should be worried about, but instead of meditating on the next step to take, her office is leaking copies of the letter that had communicated the precarious situation to the media.
Already, Mr. Woyome has sued GoG at the African Human Rights Court, based in Arusha, Tanzania, solely on the basis of the claim that, by Ghana’s Supreme Court linkage of him to the Waterville contract and using it as basis to disentitle him, his fundamental human rights had been abused.
And the AHC (Arusha) has already determined a prima facie case and has asked the Attorney General to respond accordingly.
In summation, therefore, what Mr. Woyome had done at the ICC was to carefully set a trap for government by getting that international court to rule that Ghana’s Supreme Court decision which forms the basis for the denial of the judgment debt to Mr. Woyome is illegal.
The AG’s Office leakage of the letter communicating the international court’s decision to pro-government media is akin to leaving banana peels for herself as the celebrations that she has sparked could end in a magnification of her incompetence if Mr. Woyome wins at Arusha.
Mr. Woyome’s strategy, in going to the ICC, was to give the proverbial fool a long rope, and watch him hang himself.
The AG got Woyome’s long rope, and she has already begun hanging herself.
In July 2004, Ghana was given the rights to host the 26th edition of the Cup of African Nations (CAN) in 2008. As part of the requirements, Ghana needed to have in place at least four stadiums.
In line with the Public Procurement Act, it was advertised for companies to submit bids in respect of contracts to construct two new stadiums in Sekondi-Takoradi and Tamale, and the upgrade of the Accra and Kumasi Sports stadiums.
The nature of the contract was to be that, the companies would pre-finance and then be reimbursed by government upon completion of the construction.
After review of the bids of some eight companies, Vamed Engineering/m-Powapak had been adjudged as the bidders whose bids had the strongest financial reliability by a Tender Review Committee.
However, because Ghana was already running behind time, as far as readying for the tournament was concerned, the committee advised that government and Vamed set up a special purpose company to facilitate transactions.
However, along the way, Vamed offloaded its interest to Waterville Holdings BVI because even though Vamed had been picked as the company to deal with by GoG, Vamed thought it did not have expertise in stadium constructions.
The Tender Review Committee later passed on its approval of Vamed Engineering (Waterville) to the Central Tender Review Board, which concurrently approved of Vamed, following from which the Sports Minister at the time, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, was informed of the approval.
On 9th August 2005, Mr. Alfred Woyome, in his capacity as representative of mPowapak/ Vamed, met with then Sports Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, his Deputy, O.B. Amoah and a Chief Director of the Ministry of Education, where it was confirmed to them that mPowapak/Vamed’s bid had been successful.
Again, on the 10th August, 2005, the deputy Minister, O.B. Amoah, had met with reps of mPowapak/Vamed and confirmed that their bid had been successful.
However, as it would later be the case, President Kufuor and his Cabinet, set aside the smooth tendering process and awarded the contract to the Shanghai Group, a Chinese company, even though the Shanghai group had never taken part in the tender process.
This was a crass vandalism of Ghana’s procurement laws and so the Sports Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, had warned that the legal consequences of the action could be dire.
On 22nd August, 2005, the same Osafo-Maafo who had warned Cabinet about the serious possible consequences to abrogating the tender process, wrote to inform mPowapak/Vamed (Waterville) that the contract had been abrogated.
Waterville, which had assumed the rights of Vamed protested immediately and threatened to go to court consequent to which it was given part of the contract.
Mr. Woyome’s case is that, by that illegal abrogation of the tendering process by President Kufuor and his Cabinet, he had been adversely affected because, as part of the process to deliver on the contract, he had put together a consortium that sourced 1, E106, 470, 587.00 euros from the Bank of Austria towards the project.
Mr. Woyome’s case is that per international practice, he is entitled to the financial arrangement cost of 2% of the over 1.1billion euros that he and his consortium engineered towards the contract. His point is that, the arrangement for the 2%, which is actually a beat down from an international rate of 4% was contained in Waterville’s documents in respect of the transaction with GoG.
Interestingly, while Mr. Woyome and his consortium were doing the financial engineering, the Kufuor government had acknowledged them as such. In a 4th May, 2005 letter signed by then Deputy Minister of Finance, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, Mr. Woyome, Vamed and KG had been introduced to three banks “to conclude a loan deal and term sheet” presented to the Ministry of Finance.
The banks were Raiffeisen Zentral Bank, Osterreich AG, Bank Austrial Creditanstalt AG and EXIM Bank Washington DC.
Further, a 5th July, 2005, letter from the Ministry of Education introduced Woyome’s mPowapak to the Department of Commerce, Washington DC, as representative of Vamed Engineering (Waterville).
When the Atta Mills government came into office in 2009, and Mr. Woyome presented the claim, the government initially refused to pay causing Woyome to sue in the High Court for the whole 4% of financial arrangement cost in respect of the over 1.1billion euros.
However, after then Attorney General, Mrs. Betty Mould-Idrissu, had negotiated down over $150million that Mr. Woyome had gotten in judgment debt, and arranged to pay him Ghc51million instead, there was hullabaloo, with the opposition NPP at the time using the issue to impugn corruption on the Mills government.
In 2014, former Attorney General, Martin Amidu, successfully got the Supreme Court to rule that all international contracts that did not receive Parliamentary approval are illegal.
The result immediately led to companies, Isofotone and Waterville, whose contracts with government had not received Parliamentary approval, being told to refund judgment debts that had resulted from the abrogation of their contracts with government.
In July of the same year, Mr. Amidu got the Supreme Court to review its case to affect Mr. Woyome’s judgment debt claim against government, with the court ruling that Mr. Woyome’s case was intrinsically joined with Waterville’s contract and that because of that joint, the illegality of Waterville’s contract, due to the lack of Parliamentary approval, automatically made Mr. Woyome’s entitlement to the Ghc51million judgment debt baseless.
On the basis of the supposed baselessness of the Waterville contract, Mr. Woyome was told to refund the Ghc51million paid to him.
But Mr. Woyome held to the conviction that the judgment debt, which arose from financial engineering that he had done, with the government’s express acknowledgment, is different from Waterville’s case.
He therefore went to the ICC to have the court affirm that his case is not conjoined with that of Waterville.
The court’s rule that Mr. Woyome had no locus standi to bring the case before the court therefore means that the ICC has negated the judgment of Ghana’s Supreme Court, which had conjoined Woyome’s issue with that of Waterville.
It is a letter communicating the court’s decline to arbitrate the case, and therefore nullifying our Supreme Court’s earlier decision, that Ghana’s Attorney General’s Office has leaked to the media.
But as acolytes of the NPP regime rejoiced over the turnout, Mr. Woyome also issued a statement, saying the decision is a blessing that he had expected.
According to him, the ICC decision paved the way for him to pursue justice in the matter of abuse of his rights by Ghana’s Supreme which could lead to Ghana being told to pay him the 4% of the over 1billion euros that he has demanded as cost for financial engineering.
“As expected, this office has already determined that the Human Rights of Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome has been abused and was occasioned by the Review Decision of the Supreme Court of Ghana. Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome has sent this aspect of the case to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Right in Arusha Tanzania by invoking article 40 read together with article 75 of the1992 constitution of The Republic of Ghana under case number Ref:AfCHPR/Reg./appl.001/2017/001.
“Ghana has ratified the necessary Protocols of the African Court, recognized the competence of the African Court, and also submitted to the authority of the African Court. A preliminary determination of the case has been made and a prima facie case has been established by the African Court in favor of Mr. Alfred Agbesi Woyome and Ghana has been served all the necessary processes through the ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ghana.
“The following entities have also been served the necessary processes: The Chairperson of African Union Commission, The Executive Secretary of African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, All states Party to the Protocol and The Executive Council of the African Union, through the Chairperson of African Union Commission.
“Ghana has been ordered to appoint their lawyers latest by Tuesday the 8th of August 2017. Ghana has also been ordered to file their response within 30 days after the 8th of August 2017,” Mr. Woyome’s statement in reaction to the leakage of the ICC letter by the AG noted.
In the end, his strategy had been to give a fool a long rope watch him hang himself. The AG’s Office got the long rope and has begun hanging itself.
If eventually Mr. Woyome wins the case, Ghanaians will be forced to query why the Attorney General did not fight the case that negated the Supreme Court’s judgment at the ICC. Then Gloria Akuffo, whose office is now leaking the letters to the press, will come and explain that it is because the ICC had struck out the case.
Then the questions as to why her office is giving the impression now that the government has won the case against Mr. Woyome would arise.
Source:therepublicnewsonline.com/ Fiifi Samuels