AG initiates moves to take over and sell Woyome’s Kokomlemle house

The Attorney General and Minister for Justice has initiated moves to take over and sell a residential property of Mr Alfred Agbesi Woyome located at Kpehe in Kokomlemle, Accra.

The move is to use proceeds from the sale to defray a Gh¢51.2million debt Mr Woyome owes the state.

This follows the Supreme Court ruling that, the said Gh¢51.2million which Mr Woyome received from the state as a result of a judgment debt was acquired from an unconstitutional and invalid contract and ought to be refunded.

A letter from the AG’s Department signed by Mrs Dorothy Afriyie Ansah, a Chief State Attorney directed the Lands Commission to move in to value one of the residential properties of Mr Woyome located at Kpehe in Kokomlemle in Accra on Thursday.

The letter which was copied to Mr Woyome requested that he grants access to the officers on Thursday June 2, 2016 at 10am.

It said Mr Charles Lartey, from the Civil Registry of the Attorney General’s Department will accompany the officers.

A similar move by the AG to sell two properties of Mr Woyome to defray the GH¢51.2 million debt in April 2016 took a new turn, as the UT Bank moved in to claim ownership of the said properties at Trasacco in Accra.

Lawyers for UT Bank, subsequently filed a notice of claim at the High Court for the properties and served notice on the A-G’s Department.

That case is still pending as the state is contesting it and the effect is that the state cannot sell those properties until it is proved that the bank’s claim was false.

That, meanwhile, is not preventing the state from pursuing other properties belonging to the businessman.

Woyome’s reaction

Mr Alfred Woyome responded to the move through his lawyer, Mr Ken Anku in a radio interview on Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen programme on Tuesday afternoon.

According to Mr Anku, Mr Woyome has received a copy of the said letter and that he was constrained to react to the “manner in which the AG was proceeding in the matter”.

He said cases are traded in court but the manner where as soon as the AG author’s a letter, it is “leaked to the press” was unbecoming of an institution which was a creature of the constitution.

He said UT Bank has filed a notice of claim in court claiming that those properties that have been mentioned in the letter are a subject of encumbrance, meaning that Mr Woyome at a point in time used those properties as security and that pursuant to the filing of the claim by UT Bank, the AG has also filed a notice disputing the claim.

What happens subsequently in procedure is that these matters would be heard in court where the person claiming ownership will prove whether or not it has a legal encumbrance.

That matter is still pending so “I don’t understand this haste to go and value these properties,” Mr Anku said

He said from the letter, there is no mention of UT, which means everything was being done at the blind side of UT and therefore described the AG’s action as a “jungle procedure.”

Background

The Supreme Court, on July 29, 2014, ordered Woyome to refund GH¢51.2 million to the state on the grounds that he 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.

Woyome has gone to the International Court of Arbitration to contest the court’s decision.

He served notice after reneging on his promise to the Supreme Court to pay the money by the end of December 2015.

On March 1, 2016, Woyome prayed the court to give him three years to pay back the money but the court declined to grant his wish.

The court had in the 2014 review decision, held 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 11-member court, presided over by the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, was ruling on a review application filed by a former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Martin Amidu, who brought the initial action praying the court to order Woyome to pay the money.

June 14, 2013 judgement

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

Waterville is expected to refund more than 25 million euros it received from the government following the court’s judgement that the said contract it entered into with the government for stadia construction for CAN 2008 was unconstitutional.

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

A former Attorney-General, Mr Martin 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 Attorney-General was pursuing the matter at the Commercial Court to retrieve the money. But the court reversed its position on July 29, 2014 and thus quashed all processes at the Commercial Court.

Contract null and void

In the Waterville judgement, the court 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 (BVI) Limited of P.O. Box 3444, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, on April 26, 2006.

Criminal case

Meanwhile, Woyome walked out of the premises of the Court of Appeal a free man on March 10, 2016 after the court exonerated him from the charge of causing financial loss to the state in the controversial GH¢51.2 million judgement debt paid to him by the state.

He escaped prison for the second time in a year after the court, in a unanimous decision, declined to grant the state’s prayer for the overturn of his acquittal and discharge granted by the High Court on March 12, 2015.

The High Court, presided over by Mr Justice John Ajet-Nasam, had acquitted and discharged Woyome on two counts of defrauding by false pretences, contrary to Section 131 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act (1960), Act 29, and causing financial loss to the State, contrary to Section 179 A (3) (a) of the Criminal Offences Act (1960), Act 29.

But the state appealed on the grounds that the trial judge erred in law in not considering the evidence adduced by the prosecution.

However, the Court of Appeal held a different position and freed him again.

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