Justice Yaw Apau
The Commission of Enquiry investigating the payment of judgment debts learnt yesterday that Subin Timbers Limited—confiscated by the government in the heat of the PNDC revolution—had been in existence as far back as 1969 and could not have been established by January 1977 as claimed by a petitioner.
However, the petitioner was able to explain the circumstances that brought Ohene Kofi (deceased) to lead the defunct company in the late1970s after he entered into a partnership with an Italian called Evo Fiorini.
Emmanuel Arthur, counsel for the Kumasi-based pastor, Daniel Opoku Adabo, who is claiming Subin Timbers on behalf of the original owner, Ohene Kofi, told Sole Commissioner Justice Yaw Apau that the destruction of documents by soldiers during the revolution affected evidence.
‘When Evo Fiorini and Ohene Kofi met, they agreed that Ohene Kofi be made a director of Subin Timbers. It wasn’t that a new company was formed and he was given shareholding,’ Arthur pointed out.
He said that initially, Ohene Kofi owned Kofi Timber Agency while Evo Fiorini owned Evo Timber Company Limited, and the Italian was a director in Subin Timbers Limited in Kumasi as at 1969.
Counsel said that ‘along the line, Subin Timbers in Kumasi fell into debt and that was when Mr. Amoah, also a director, introduced Mr. Fiorini to Ohene Kofi over a merger. Ohene Kofi paid the debt for Mr. Fiorini and became part of the new Subin Timbers Limited,’ he added.
Mr. Arthur said when a case was filed against Ohene Kofi’s family by one Dr. Ampaabeng, who had bought WVCL through a divestiture and they requested for the current standing of the company from the Registrar-General’s Department, ‘all that we could obtain was the change of the directorship, and it was clear that certain pages had been removed.’
‘If we had found the missing part in the docket, everything would have been clear. We would have seen who had the greater percentage of shares in Subin Timbers,’ he said, adding that ‘the merger was around 1976 and the absolving of Ohene Kofi into Subin Timbers was in January 1977.’
When the commission pointed out to the witness that Subin Timbers of 1969 had no link with Subin Timbers of 1977, counsel argued that ‘Subin Timbers in 1969 was in Kumasi and had an offshoot in Takoradi right opposite St Mary’s Secondary School.’
‘The nexus is not there because Ohene Kofi’s documents at the Takoradi office and house were taken away by the rampaging military at the time.’
He added that ‘Mr. Fiorini had to flee the country and later relocated to Gabon and even invited Ohene Kofi to join him over there for a similar business, but he declined due to old age.’
He said Mr. Fiorini later asked Ohene Kofi to fight and get the company back if he could. He said Ohene Kofi subsequently initiated the process to get back the company at CHRAJ before he passed away along the line.
He said Ohene Kofi’s family won the case both at the High Court and the Court of Appeal when Dr. Ampaabeng who had bought Western Veneer and Lumber Company (WVLC) after a divestiture sued them.
Executive Secretary of Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC), Asakkua Agambila, blew wide open the Subin Timbers case recently, when he asked the commission to revisit the matter because the beneficiary of the deconfiscation could not have been the owner of the company.
He had told the commission that there was an amalgamation of companies, including Subin Timbers Limited, into Western Veneer and Lumber Company (WVLC) after the confiscation in the 1980s, and that Ohene Kofi who claimed to be the owner of Subin Timbers should not have been given everything at WVCL.
‘What informed their decision that Subin Timbers, not being a sole proprietorship, belonged to one person? We at DIC don’t even believe that Ohene Kofi had any shares in Subin Timbers, and in any case, there were no shares to be deconfiscated,’ Mr. Agambila had argued.
By William Yaw Owusu
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