Businessman and National Democratic Congress (NDC) financier, Alfred Agbesi Woyome yesterday dropped a bombshell, saying he gave Attorney General and Minister of Justice Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong $1 million from the controversial GH¢51.2 million judgment debt paid him by the State.
Woyome claimed that he had in his possession receipts of the said payments to support his allegations against the A-G who is pursuing an appeal to get him incarcerated.
The NDC financier, who was only last week acquitted and discharged on charges of defrauding by false pretences and wilfully causing financial loss to the State to the tune of GH¢51.2 million by an Accra High Court, therefore demanded the resignation of the Attorney General on grounds of complicity.
This was after he was served a notice of appeal from the Attorney General’s Department, seeking to overturn the High Court ruling and get him convicted in the yet-to-be-commenced appeal of the criminal proceedings.
In a stunning letter to the A-G, dated March 13, 2015, and copied to the Secretary to the President and the Chief of Staff, Office of the President, a copy of which was stumbled upon by DAILY GUIDE, he noted: ‘It is a fact that you and your clients received approximately one million dollars, equivalent in Ghana Cedis, from the said judgment debt you now so much criminalise and want me jailed for.’
According to him, the equivalent of GH¢1,474, 393.00 was sent through an Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) cheque number 727324, dated October 6, 2011, in the joint names of Ray and Ingeborg Smith (of m-Powapak fame) and that evidence of the receipt of the payments were provided by the A-G’s private legal firm, LithurBrew and Co., in another case.
LithurBrew was said to have sued Woyome on behalf of its client, Austro Invest, to share in the GH¢51.2 million judgment debt paid to him; but only backed out ‘after hell broke loose’ on the case.
He therefore expressed disappointment in the A-G’s decision to appeal against his acquittal and discharge, in a bid to get him convicted at all cost.
‘In as much as I am not against the decision of the State to appeal, I am particularly against your conduct and public utterances during the trial and after the judgment,’ he stated.
He therefore noted, ‘I find it difficult to reconcile your decision to involve yourself directly in this criminal case and notice of appeal you have authorised to be issued and served on me.’
Woyome made yet another shocking revelation about how he managed to secure the initial default judgment, indicating that ‘the default judgment was negotiated between myself and the Attorney General together with officials of the Presidency with the knowledge of the then Chief of Staff who was copied with every correspondence.’
Even though he did not mention the name of the said Chief of Staff, some observers said it could be Henry Martey Newmann, who was Chief of Staff under the late President John Mills during whose tenure the money was paid to Woyome.
Furthermore, he noted that ‘the negotiated judgment debt was filed at the Registry of the High Court as a consent judgment.’
The NDC man felt pained by the fact that ‘the Government of Ghana showed bad faith thereafter and filed a motion to set aside what have been filed at the Registry.’
After this came the two rulings in Woyome’s favour in which government was ordered to pay GH¢17,094,493.53 to him and the rest of the amount in tranches after the pre-trial conference.
Knowing the deal, he indicated that the A-G’s law firm demanded to be paid over $1 million, which he duly paid.
Woyome could not comprehend why Ms Appiah-Opong would be pursuing him to get a conviction, saying, ‘My confusion is as a result of your insistence that the fruit from the judgment of a competent court of jurisdiction, in fact, a judgment debt, is criminal.’
He therefore insisted that ‘you [referring to the Attorney General] are a beneficiary of that fruit which you are seeking so hard to taint’ for which reason, ‘it is my firm belief that another Attorney General should be the one pursuing this issue further since you are wearing a biased lens in making decisions concerning this case.’
With such biased lens, Woyome said Madam Brew Appiah-Opong as A-G could not properly and fairly advise government on this issue of exercising the constitutional rights of an Attorney General as stated in Article 88 of the 1992 Constitution, vis-Ã -vis his rights under the same Constitution.
He therefore asked the A-G to step aside or resign from the position for another person to pursue the appeal in the interest of justice.
Meanwhile, Ms Appiah-Opong has denied Woyome’s claims, describing his letter as not only dishonest but unnecessary, declining to resign.
According to her, the letter was only ‘meant to throw dust in the eyes of Ghanaians’.
Moments after the content of the letter became public, the A-G, who spoke on Asempa FM said, ‘I have not worked for Woyome before and I have the full backing of the President to do my job and I will continue to fight this case and take back the monies for the people of Ghana.’
She noted that ‘I will not resign, the President is behind me and I will fight this case till the end.’
She explained that the GH¢1.4 million Woyome claimed to have paid to her was debt owed her client, Ray Smith.
‘If he intends to dent my credibility with regard to the handling of the appeal or the Supreme Court case, of course that won’t work. I never even handled any of these cases. The money was paid to Ray Smith and it was in respect of a debt that Alfred Woyome owed Ray Smith which he had refused to pay. It’s as simple as that,’ she told Citi Fm in a follow up interview.
The A-G insisted that receiving such an amount on behalf of her client did not amount to a conflict of interest. ‘I went to court several times on this particular matter, so why didn’t he raise it when the prosecution was going on?
‘The only thing I can say is that, now there are three law lords in the Court of Appeal who are going to look at this case and the judgment and decide whether the judge was right or wrong. If he had anything to say, he should save his breath and say those things in the Court of Appeal. He has an opportunity to respond when we file our written submissions,’ she said.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu
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