A leaked report of the Judgment Debt commission has faulted the Attorney General’s Department and the trial court for failing to prevent the payment of the controversial GH¢51 million judgment debt to businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome.
According to the report, the then Attorney General Betty Mould Iddrisu going by Alfred Agbesi Woyome’s own pleaded case, had no business in ordering that he [Woyome] be paid the cedi equivalent of €22, 129,501.74 for his alleged financial engineering costs alone.
“The Commission is minded to pose this question because Woyome as plaintiff, had pleaded that the total value of works actually done by his company, Waterville plus his 2% financial engineering cost, which Waterville claimed from the government of Ghana was €32, 000,000.00 in all. So why should Woyome’s 2% be bigger than what was actually paid to his principals Waterville for works alleged to have been actually done before the abrogation which was €21, 500,000.00?” the report questioned.
This according to the Judgement debt Commission is because “If what Woyome as plaintiff pleaded in his case against the State was true, then his so-called engineering cost of 2% which the government did not pay would be the balance left out of the total claim of €32, 000,000.00 after paying Waterville the sum of 21, 500,000.00 as the costs of actual works done before the abrogation of the contract. This balance would be €10, 500,000.00 but not €22, 129,501.74 which the then Attorney-General Mrs. Betty Mould-Iddrisu ordered the Minister of Finance to pay to him.”
Still on former AG Betty Mould Iddrisu the commission was of the opinion that “in deciding to negotiate with Alfred Agbesi Woyome for the payment of the cedi equivalent of €22, 129,501.74 to him as representing 2% of an alleged financial engineering costs, (she) was ignorant about the facts of the case Woyome had pleaded in court, but nevertheless went ahead to negotiate and finally ordered for such payment to be made without any scrutiny of his claim and due diligence.”
The commission also questioned the procedure and processes for acquiring the consent judgment insisting that due diligence on the part of the state and the trial court could have stopped the illegal payment.
“Two days after pleadings closed the service of the amended writ of summons, (i.e. on 6th May 2010), the plaintiff again filed a second amended writ of summons further amending the amended writ of summons by the addition of one more relief. This the plaintiff did without leave of the court, contrary to the rules of court which permit only one amendment without leave before.”
This second amended writ of summons, filed without leave, contrary to the rules of Court, was also served on the Attorney-General on 7th May 2010 (just a day after filing).
Either through inadvertence or pure mischief through connivance, both the Chief State Attorney Samuel Nerquaye Tetteh who was charged with the defence of the suit in the trial court and the trial judge, did not scrutinize the processes filed before them with judicious eyes. If the trial judge, particularly, had done so, he would not have granted the application for default judgment in the first place”. It also stated that “It is not surprising that the bank accounts of the wife of the Chief State Attorney Mrs. Nerquaye Tetteh, as was later found out by the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO), was ballooned by the payment into same of the sum of GHc400, 000.00 by the Plaintiff Alfred Agbesi Woyome after the deal had become successful.” the commission observed.
The commission further indicted the court for failing to stop the default judgment claim, insisting it was a great error on the part of the court.
To them “the trial court therefore seriously erred when it granted a default judgment in respect of a writ of summons that was not supported by any Statement of Claim and also at a time when the period specified in the rules (i.e. Order 16 r. 3 (2)(b) of C.I. 47) for the filing of a statement of defence, had not lapsed.
According to the report, the serious flaws of the trial court did not end with the entry of the default judgment contrary to the rules of court as the report points outthat “though the two parties in the action filed a supposed terms of settlement intending it to be adopted as a consent judgment, one of the parties, before the date slated for the adoption of the said terms, had declared its intention not to go by the terms anymore since it had realized it had a defence to the action. That conduct alone served as a caveat to the trial Court in treating the terms as consent judgment since it had been robbed of its consensual content.”
This action of the court the Sole Commissioner Justice Yaw Apau bemoaned saying; “I am at pains to say that the trial Court, however, overlooked this important development and regrettably forced a consent judgment on the defendant, which is none other but the State. In the view of the Commission, what the trial Court described as a ‘Consent Judgment’ in its ruling of 9th July 2010, was not a consent judgment properly so-called. It was a judgment forced on the defendant by the trial Court, which makes it a complete nullity.”
In the face of all the fact stated above the commission concluded that “there was no basis for the payment of the sum of over GHc51 million to the plaintiff Alfred Agbesi Woyome. This is because, he was not entitled to any such payment as the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) rightly found and stated in its interim report dated February 1, 2012. The fact is that, Alfred Agbesi Woyome did not demonstrate in any way in his statement of claim that he ever brought into the country, through his alleged financial engineering expertise, the sum of (€1, 106,470,587.00) for the construction of stadia and medical facilities in the country as he claimed in his action.”
It further concluded that “He [Woyome] could not therefore be entitled to 2% of that amount as he deceitfully succeeded in claiming from the State. At best, the trial Court should have set aside the default judgment it had wrongly entered against the State and allowed the Attorney General to defend the action as he intimated in the motion filed on 11th June 2010. The failure on the part of the trial High Court to do so led to the wrong payment of the huge sum of over GHc51 million to Alfred Agbesi Woyome who did not deserve it in the least.”
The sole commission however recommended that “in line with the review decision of the Supreme Court that the State must take all necessary steps to re-call that money with interest from Alfred Agbesi Woyome”.
Mr Woyome, was paid the sum as judgment debt for allegedly rendering services to the state during preparations towards hosting the 2008 African Cup of Nations in Ghana.
He was later dragged to court for causing financial loss to the state and defrauding by false pretense after a public frenzy.
Meanwhile an Accra High court on March 12, 2015 acquitted and discharged Mr Woyome.
The judge, Justice Ajet-Nasam explained that the state did a poor job on the case by failing to call key witnesses.
But the leaked report of the Judgment debt commission recommended that “in line with the review decision of the Supreme Court that the State must take all necessary steps to re-call that money with interest from Alfred Agbesi Woyome.”
The Commission stated that there was no basis for the payment of the money to Alfred Woyome.
The report noted an interim report by the Economic Crime and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) in its interim report found out that Woyome was not entitled to such payments.
The Attorney General, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong had vowed to pursue the case at the Supreme Court to ensure Mr Woyome pays back all the money.
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