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Friday, February 3, 2012

Prez Ordered Ministry Not To Pay "Woyome" Debt, But...

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It has been established that President John Evans Atta Mills intervened on two occasions and ordered the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning not to effect payment of the judgement debt to Mr Alfred Woyome.

According to the interim report of the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) on the Woyome judgement debt saga, in the first instance, it was on the President’s directive that the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Kwabena Duffour, in turn issued instructions to stop the payment.

The report, which was presented to the President at the Castle, Osu, Thursday, said it was at that stage that Mr Woyome caused a writ of summons to be issued in the High Court and made claims for the payment of four per cent of 1,106,470,587 euros plus interest and cost.

It said on May 24, 2010, Mr Woyome obtained a judgement at the court in the sum of GH¢41,811,480.59 plus interest of five million euros (GH¢9,447,000) and costs of GH¢25,000, making the total amount payable to Mr Woyome GH¢51,283,480.59.

“At this stage, the Ministry of Finance negotiated payment terms with the solicitors of Mr Woyome, according to which a first instalment of GH¢7,094,493.53 would be paid not later than the first week of July 2010; second instalment of GH¢17,094,493.53 by the end of July 2010 and the third instalment of GH¢17,094,493,53 by the end of August 2010,” the report revealed.

In the second instance, it said before the Ministry of Finance could pay the first instalment of GH¢17,094,493.53, the President ordered the Attorney-General to take action in court to set aside the court’s order.

Accordingly, the A-G applied to the court for a stay of execution of the settlement, it said, adding, “The court, however, refused to grant the application and ordered the government to pay according to the settlement reached earlier.”

The President, on December 20, 2011, caused a letter to be written to EOCO, directing the office to undertake investigations into the circumstances surrounding the payment of GH¢42 million to Vamed/ Waterville Engineering and Mr Alfred Woyome as judgement debt and give the facts for people to draw their own conclusion.

He further directed EOCO “to find the total amount of monies paid out as judgement debts since the present administration took over the reins of government since January 7, 2009 and who the beneficiaries are”.

Receiving the interim report, President Mills thanked EOCO for doing a great job for the nation.

He said while he appreciated the work and public interest in it, it was “unfortunate that a group of people were unwilling to co-operate with the investigations”.

“What we all yearn for is the truth. What is right today will be right tomorrow,” he stressed, saying that the country’s democracy could only progress if all branches were allowed to operate.

He expressed concern over the way people had developed different versions of what had become known as “the Woyome gate”, stressing that there could only be one truth.

President Mills directed the Attorney-General to study the report and advise him in the interest of “truth and justice and for the benefit of the people we swear to protect”.

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, expressed the belief that the report would put to rest the issues surrounding the saga, saying, “We will study the report and get back to you, Mr President.”

The Executive Director of EOCO, Mr Mortey Akpadzi, presenting the report to the President, said on December 19, 2011, before President Mills’s directive to the anti-graft body to investigate the Woyome issue, he (Mr Akpadzi) had received a petition from Mr Benjamin Akyena Brentuo requesting the office to investigate former President John Agyekum Kufuor and the Cabinet of 2005/2006 for wilfully causing financial loss to the state.

He said the basis for the petition was that the Kufuor administration had made the government to unnecessarily pay a judgement debt of approximately GH¢52 million to Mr Woyome as a result of the illegal abrogation of the tender process for the construction of stadia for the CAN 2008 football tournament.

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