$65m World Bank Cash Was A Lie – Witness

Abuga Pele and Philip Akpeena Assibit
A senior officer at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning yesterday told an Accra Financial Court that it was impossible for the World Bank to give Ghana $65 million for the creation of jobs for the youth without exhausting all laid-down procedures for release of the funds.

Gladys Ghartey, current Head of United Nations Systems at the Ministry, insisted under cross-examination at the Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) trial that it was incorrect for anybody, including then Vice President John Dramani Mahama, to announce that the $65 million had been secured.

Counsel (Raymond Bagnabu): What will be your reaction if you hear that the $65 million has been secured?

Witness: My reaction will be that no such facility has been secured.

Counsel: In fact, then Vice President, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, announced that $65 million has been secured.

Witness: It is incorrect.
Counsel: Also, then Minister of Youth and Sports, Clement Kofi Humado, at the Meet-the-press series announced that $65 million has been secured.

Witness: It is incorrect.
Counsel: Are you saying that these officials were not telling the truth?

Witness: They were not telling the truth…If any such facility is secured I am the first person to know.

Accused Persons
Incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) for Chiana-Paga, Abuga Pele and Philip Akpeena Assibit, Chief Executive Officer of Goodwill International Group (GIG), are standing trial for their various roles which the Attorney General’s Department says had cost huge financial loss to the state.

Until last year, Abuga Pele was the National Coordinator of the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) now GYEEDA.

He is accused of willfully causing financial loss to the State to the tune of GH¢3,330,568.53 while Assibit is being tried for defrauding the state of an amount equivalent to $1,948,626.68.

The two have pleaded not guilty and are currently on bail.

The NDC MP is facing six counts of willfully causing financial loss to the state under Section 179A (3) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29), two counts of abetment under Sections 20(1) and 131(1) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) and one count of intentionally misapplying public property, contrary to Section 1(2) of the Public Property Protection Act, 1977 (SMCD 140).

Mr. Assibit, who is the first accused person on the other hand, is facing six counts of defrauding by false pretences contrary to Section 131(1) of the Criminal and Offences Act 1960 (Act 29) and five counts of dishonestly causing loss to public property contrary to Section 2(1) of the Public Property Protection Act, 1977 (SMCD 140).

GYEEDA Proposal
The second prosecution witness (PW2) told the court, presided over by Justice Afia Asare-Botwe, that information from the World Bank about receipt of the GYEEDA proposal did not mark the beginning of her knowledge in the matter as counsel was suggesting.

‘I said in October 2010 we went for a World Bank annual meeting in Washington and my minister had presented programmes to them and they included the GYEEDA project,’ Mrs. Ghartey insisted.

She admitted that the GYEEDA concept paper to create jobs was circulated among international donor agencies apart from the World Bank, but said she did not know how the concept paper originated.

Counsel: It was developed and designed by A1 (Assibit) and his team.

Witness: I would not know.
Counsel: It originated as the NYEP had tasked A1 and his team to look for alternative sources of funding for the project.

Witness: I would not know.
Counsel: A1 had done this with West Cap and it was in this quest that they went to the office of then Vice President.

Witness: I do not know.
Counsel then put it to the witness that it was Assibit and his team that had urged the then Vice President to approach the World Bank and talk to them about funding for the project, but Mrs. Ghartey said, ‘I was not there so I would not know.’

PW2 told the court that Assibit did not present any document to her in which the accused described himself as consultant, but insisted that it would be incorrect for anybody to suggest that Assibit and one Jamal had never personally visited her office.

Abuga Pele’s Turn
When Thaddeus Sory, counsel for Abuga Pele, took his turn to cross-examine the witness, she (Ghartey) admitted that all GYEEDA activities were supervised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

She also said even though a Project Preparatory Advance (PPA) was signed with the government at $4.5 million, the money did not come.

Sitting continues on May 21.
By William Yaw Owusu

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