Businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome says he was very instrumental in getting Ghana to host the CAN 2008, even though a more developed country, Libya, was interested in hosting the African Cup of Nations tournament.
Opening his defence before the High Court in Accra, in an allegation leveled against him for willfully causing financial loss to the state in the sum of over GHC51 million, the beleaguered former Austrian consulate, noted that he had to lobby intensely for Ghana’s bid to get through.
He said, having worked closely with the Gaddafi government, he was able to convince Libya from contesting the hosting of CAN 2008, eventually making Ghana host of the tournament.
Giving his account from the genesis of the whole issue leading up to the accusation brought against him by the state in his evidence-in-chief on Monday, Mr. Woyome said the late Osei Kwaku, then minister of youth and sports, approached him seeking if he could assist in building some sports infrastructure in the countries.
According to him, the steps taken by the then minister’s in getting him involved in the construction of the sports facilities were due to his (Woyome) assistance in the funding of some infrastructural projects such as hospitals in the country.
The witness told the court, presided over by Justice John Ajet-Nasam that the minister invited him and some discussions held with the minister’s team including the then Chief Operating Officer (COO) of CAN 2008, Mr. Rex Danquah.
Mr. Woyome further indicated that after the discussions, the team realized that Ghana had gone HIPC and therefore difficult to raise funds from the Breton Wood institutions to construct sporting facilities in the country.
“I then proposed if we could turn Ghana into a sporting tourism destination”, witness told the court and further stressing it was difficult to convince the Breton Wood institutions as to how the project could be achieved since sports did not fall under development.
Mr. Woyome said he then told the team that the only way to go was for Ghana to “get and host a major tournament” and “make sure that some infrastructure are put in place that would not be a drain on the economy”.
Noticing that CAN 2008 was available, he ensured that Ghana wins the hosting of the tournament and having worked closely with the late President of Libya, Muammar al-Gaddafi, he lobbied Libya in that respect.
He said, while in Libya, he received several calls back home. He noted that circumstances at the time eventually made the then Minister of National Security, Mr. Francis Poku to pick him straight from the airport, immediately he arrived from Libya.
According to the witness, even though the then minister of youth and sports, Osei Kwaku was moved from office and replaced with Rashid Bawa, discussions continued until Ghana won the bid to host the CAN 2008 tournament.
Mr. Woyome said the then interim Local Organizing Committee (LOC) lacked funds so he mostly funded the committee.
After the country has won the CAN 2008 bid, a timetable was given to Ghana to complete its sporting infrastructural facilities for the tournament, so he had to put together a consortium to facilitate the execution of the project, witness told the court.
Mr. Woyome further indicated he brought together companies such as Vamed and some other Turkish companies to form a consortium and treated the project as “supplies contract”.
He said in the course of the preparation, Mr. Yaw Osafo Marfo, the then minister of finance asked that a feasibility studies should be done on the project.
Witness then told the court that he made Vamed as the leader of the consortium, to write a letter to the Ministry of Finance, since the company was already known to government.
“The letter triggered a meeting between me, Yaw Osafo Marfo and the team and we discussed the restrictions” by the the Breton Woods institutions, Mr. Woyome noted.
Witness said due to the difficulties encountered in having the project done, he then proposed to contact other friendly countries, he had been working with and so had to go back to Libya to meet government officials, where it was decided that Ghana be given some crude oil.
The crude oil was to be channeled through the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) at the time when former NPP General Secretary, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie a.k.a. “Sir John” was the Managing Director.
Witness said he held discussions with Sir John and Francis Poku and it was decided that the process of getting the crude from Libya should proceed but the oil should not be sold on high seas.
The agreement was objected to by the energy ministry, thereby, making it difficult to proceed with getting the crude oil, witness said, stressing that before then, the former minister of youth and sports, Rashid Bawa had signed the supply contract with Vaitec and the Turkish companies, all members of the consortium.
Due to the energy ministry’s rejection of the deal, members of the consortium threatened legal action against government, witness indicated, adding that he had to negotiate some payments to the companies, for which Epiferm Ghana Limited acknowledged through a letter for paying them $63,000.
Mr. Woyome said, as a result of the money paid to the countries threatening to take legal action against government, Epiferm and the other companies rescinded their decisions.
The late Kwadwo Baah Wiredu took over the ministry of youth and sports, prompting him to call for a meeting to review the issues, where it was decided that an Olympic Stadium should be constructed along the Accra-Tema motorway and also the construction of the Esipon stadium, witness noted.
Mr. Woyome said, as a result of the decisions taken in the meeting with the then minister for youth and sports, his consortium was asked to bring a financial engineering for the project.
Court has adjourned hearing to May 12, 2014, for continuation of evidence by the accused person.
The beginning of Woyome’s evidence is as a result of an order by the court, indicating that the state has provided enough evidence to warrant him to tell his case.
Mr. Woyome is facing charges of defrauding by false pretence and causing financial loss to the state to the tune of over 51 million Ghana Cedis, and has been on trial for over two years.
He had pleaded not guilty and he is currently on bail.
It is the case of the State that Mr. Woyome, on February 2010, made a false representation that Government owed him two per cent of €1,106,470,587 for his services of providing financial engineering for the rehabilitation of the Kumasi, Accra and El-Wak stadia, ahead of the CAN 2008, African Cup of Nations.
The embattled businessman, Mr. Woyome, then obtained GH¢51, 283,480.59 in judgment debt, but the state contends the payment was obtained fraudulently.
The Attorney-General is therefore seeking an order from the court for a refund of the GH¢51, 283,480.59 paid to Mr. Woyome.