The lack of documents covering compensation paid in respect of the Aveyime Livestock project in the Volta Region, has greatly worried the Sole-Commissioner investigating the payment of judgement debts.
According to the Commission of Enquiry presided over by Justice Yaw Apau of the Court of Appeal, even though the Carmichael Family was paid about GH¢3.2 million ($2.4) as a result of the government’s take-over, there were no documents to indicate how the Livestock project was confiscated.
The ‘Commission of Enquiry into the payment of Judgement Debt and Akin’ under C.I. 79 to investigate the frivolous and dubious payments of huge monies to undeserving individuals and companies, was appointed by President John Dramani Mahama after public uproar over the payments in what has now come to be termed as Judgement Debts (JDs).
Notable among them were payments made to CP (â‚¬94 million) and the never-ending case of GH¢51.2 million parted to the self-styled National Democratic Congress (NDC) financier, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, both of which many believed were dubious and frivolous.
On May 20, Kwadwo Awua-Peasah, Director in-charge of External Resource Mobilization (Bilateral), at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, confirmed the payment and said it was eminent jurist Justice V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe, on behalf of the Ministry of Justice, wrote a letter on the instructions of the President on January 6, 2009, to the Ministry of Finance to release the money to the Carmichael Family.
Mr. Awua-Peasah had said documents available indicated that the first payment of GH¢3.2 million was authorized on April 28, 2009 while another amount of GH¢530,628.44 was released as the final batch of payment on May 27, 2009.
The witness further told Sole-Commissioner Justice Yaw Apau that about $240,000 was paid as solicitor fees and that exchange rate loses stood at about GH¢530,000.
Yesterday, Lesley Akrong, an Assistant Director at the Banking Department of the Bank of Ghana, testified on the issue and said his outfit acted on instructions from the Controller and Accountant General’s Department.
He said the letter from the Controller was written on January 8, 2009, but it got to the central bank on April 28, 2009 and on May 4, 2009, the payment transfer to the Carmichael Family was done.
He said because the cedi was fluctuating against the dollar, the total amount was short by GH¢530,628.44 and they were compelled to write back to notify the Controller saying, ‘it was later released to bridge the huge exchange rate loss.’
He said about $240,000 was paid to a solicitor called Reginald Arkhurst and there was also a similar amount paid to one Christopher Mitchell, but it appeared on the documents that both transactions were the same.
Justice Apau wondered why such a payment instruction could be completed without documents covering the transaction saying, ‘We will invite the Attorney General to explain the basis for the compensation.’
Adaklu & Abutia
Mr. Akrong, flanked by Saviour Kudze of the Legal Department of the Bank, also testified on GH¢780,089.80 Adaklu and Abutia land compensations in the Volta Region which the Commission said were paid to ‘unidentified persons’ per documents available to it.
He said the payment instruction came from the Controller on December 22, 2009 and they were asked to transfer the amount from an account called ‘Non-Road Arrears Account’ and admitted that the names of the beneficiaries were not attached to the letter from the Controller.
‘We were instructed to move money from one account to another account and the authorization had come from the Controller,’ he said.
He tendered in evidence bank transfer advice with their references from the Controller in six different transactions.
A Chief State Attorney, Mrs. Dorothy Afriyie-Ansah, also appeared for the Attorney General (AG) and said the AG was having difficulty tracing the Carmichael Family file.
She also said the AG was still compiling data on all other issues that the commission had requested from them.
By William Yaw Owusu & Rita Oduro
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