Woyome Fumbles In Court
Alfred Agbesi Woyome with family and friends at the court yesterday
The embattled National Democratic Congress (NDC) financier, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, yesterday began his testimony at an Accra Fast Track High Court on a bad note, prompting the judge to adjourn the case.
The testimony of the accused, who was being tried for allegedly defrauding the State to the tune of GH¢51.28million, was so disorderly the trial judge, Justice John Ajet-Nassam, had to stop him midway, saying the ‘testimony was jumbled.’
Mr Woyome said he was influential in Ghana winning the bid to host the Confederation of African Nations (CAN) 2008 tournament, but failed to make his evidence clear to the court.
The NDC kingpin told the court that he even funded the activities of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) but the case had to be halted after his narration lacked sequential order, prompting the judge to say, ‘I can’t get it. I honestly cannot.’
Mr. Woyome, who is on trial for receiving GH¢51.28million in fraudulent judgment debt, was told by the trial judge that the case would be adjourned for his lawyers to have enough conference with him.
Led by Osafo Boabeng, the accused person said the late Minister for Youth and Sports, Edward Osei-Kwaku, ‘having seen how I have been helping in infrastructural development in the country, called me to a meeting and asked that I should help in the funding of sports.’
Mr Osei-Kwaku died in September 2005, in a motor accident.
Mr Woyome, who described himself as a businessman and a retired diplomat, said he was very excited because he was an ardent sports fan, adding that for the first time, he got to know people in the industry such as Rex Danquah and others.
In addition, he said Ghana was a Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) and there was a restriction on developing countries using soft loans to finance projects on sports, explaining that it was a policy of the Paris Club, a Breton Woods Institution, which monitors the expenditure of middle income and developing countries.
According to him, it was agreed that there was the need for Ghana to be a tourist destination and so the minister and his team realized that CAN 2008 was to be hosted as no country had expressed interest in hosting it yet.
Woyome stated that ‘having worked in the highest echelons in Libya directly with then former Libyan leader, Muammar Al Gaddafi, I went to Tripoli to lobby for Ghana to host CAN 2008 because I had heard that Libya was also interested in hosting it.’
Furthermore, he said Libya supported Ghana and he returned and was picked up at the Kotoka International Airport by Francis Poku, the former National Security advisor.
He noted that Hon Rashid Bawah replaced Osei-Kwaku as Minister and called him and asked that the bid for CAN 2008 should continue.
The NDC financier noted it was then that the LOC was formed. Indicating that he funded it, he explained that the funding included a bankable and viable feasibility studies but failed to provide documents to back his claims on the LOC funding.
Mr Woyome noted that Hon. Bawah later went to Cairo and Ghana won the bid.
He said he was the first person in Ghana to hear that the country had won the right to host CAN 2008, as he set up a consortium like he had always done like in the cases of Gushiegu and Sogakope (hospitals) projects.
He explained that subsequently, there was a timetable set up for Ghana on CAN 2008, adding that there were credit agreements and timelines and explained they had agreed to sign an agreement called supplier’s contract, after he formed Vamed Engineering, with Vatech and other Turkish companies.
The accused person observed that Vamed, spearheading the group, wrote to then Minister of Finance Yaw Osaafo Maafo, who organized a meeting with them and tendered a letter on the said meeting to the court in evidence.
The embattled NDC financier also stated that at the said meeting they discussed the Paris Club and decided that they would seek help from one of the friendly countries so he went back to Libya for support and was granted a crude oil offer of $25 per barrel.
The retired diplomat stated that Ghana had problems with the agreement and rejected the deal after initially signing it, so Epipherm, the company that had already invested in the project, threatened to sue and he paid them off.
He tendered a document on the acknowledgement of receipt of the payment to the court in evidence.
According to him, the late Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu replaced Rashid Bawah as Minister and called him and his team to tell them that they should all get on board to see the way forward.
Explaining further, the accused person said it was proposed that a stadium on the Accra-Tema Motorway called Olympic Stadium be built with a 40,000-seating capacity and also talked about a reconstruction of the Sekondi Stadium.
Woyome said it was later agreed that hospital facilities be included in the programme and explained that it was later learnt that the Sekondi Stadium was built on a refuse dump and any building raised could crumble.
He said he had the responsibility of doing infrastructural engineering and noted that Dr Kofi Amoah was then the LOC chairman.
The case has been adjourned to May 9, 2014.
Woyome has been charged with causing financial loss to the state and defrauding by false pretences but he has denied any wrongdoing.
The judgement debt was awarded to him by Betty Mould-Iddrisu when she was the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
By Fidelia Achama
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