Anti-corruption crusader and former Attorney-General (A-G) and Minister of Justice, Martin Amidu, believes the incumbent A-G, Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, cannot fully extricate herself from the infamous Woyome judgment debt scandal as her law firm was a beneficiary of the scam.
Even though Mr Amidu said ‘there is no evidence to allege that Lithur, Brew and Co (the A-G’s private legal firm) were ever lawyers for Alfred Agbesi Woyome,’ he insisted in a statement that Lithur, Brew and Co – the law firm which Marietta was a senior partner – represented a party in the fraudulent claim of GH¢51.2 million from the state.
‘Lithur, Brew and Co were lawyers for Austro-Invest Management Ltd, a foreign registered and wholly owned company which was a joint beneficiary with Woyome in the over GH¢51 million unconstitutionally paid by the NDC Government through its financier, Woyome,’ Amindu said in the statement issued in reaction to an interview granted by Tony Lithur on the subject of conflict of interest.
Until her appointment as Attorney-General, Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong was a managing partner of the said private legal firm together with President Mahama’s legal counsel, Tony Lithur.
The comments by Mr Amidu, also referred to as Citizen Vigilante, come in the wake of an Accra High Court ruling in which it acquitted and discharged Alfred Agbesi Woyome, NDC financier, of two counts of defrauding by false pretences and wilfully causing financial loss to the state in a criminal case, against an earlier ruling by the Supreme Court which found the man liable and ordered him to pay back the GH¢51.2 million to the state in a civil suit initiated by Mr Amidu.
Due to the role played by Lithur, Brew and Co as lawyers for Austro-Invest in protecting the interest of the company, Mr Amidu noted that the Attorney-General, Mrs Marrieta Brew Appiah-Opong, as a partner in the law firm, ‘does not have the impartiality to handle on behalf of the Republic of Ghana any case involving Alfred Agbesi Woyome.’
This, he said, was because ‘In making decisions to prosecute or amend charges, she will be more inclined in her official capacity to protect the interest of Austro-Invest. She will be inclined to be biased against even Alfred Agbesi Woyome, and protect Austro-Invest.’
Mr Amidu intimated, ‘I had, however, established that at the time Lithur, Brew and Co were acting as lawyers for Austro-Invest upon the instructions of its sole shareholder, Ray Smith, resident in Ghana, Austro-Invest had ceased to exist as a limited liability company in Switzerland and could not therefore sue in the High Court in Ghana.’
According to him, ‘The role played by Lithur, Brew and Co as lawyers for Austro-Invest which they knew had been liquidated, was what moved me to complain to the Supreme Court about what I perceived to be the professional misconduct of Lithur, Brew and Co in holding out a liquidated foreign registered company as one having capacity to sue and be sued in Ghana,’ thereby reneging on their duty to satisfy themselves on the legal persona of Austro-Invest before issuing and continuing any suits and applications against Woyome in the High Court.
In view of this, the former A-G indicated that ‘Lithur, Brew and Co could be liable with Ray Smith for abetment of perjury for the affidavits deposed by Ray Smith and filed in the High Court by them on his behalf.’
With Ms Brew Appiah-Opong having been appointed the Attorney-General, Citizen Vigilante said it would have been futile for him to make any report to the police; the reason he brought the matter to the attention of the Supreme Court in an application for directions, with the court making adverse comments on the conduct of the A-G’s law firm.
Mr Amidu said he was not convinced the Mahama administration was not serious about the Woyome fraudulent case.
‘The perception I have come away with in my handling of the Constitutional cases against the Attorney General, Waterville, and Woyome/Austro-Invest is that the John Dramani Mahama NDC Government under its Attorney General, Ms Brew Appiah-Opong, has at every step done everything in its power to impede the success of the cases,’ he noted.
‘I had made it clear to the Mills/Mahama Government as its Attorney-General that no prosecution in the scam involving the over GH¢51 million will succeed by targeting Woyome alone without Waterville, Austro-Invest, Samuel Nerquaye-Tetteh, the Chief State Attorney whose spouse, EOCO revealed, had received GH¢400,000 from Woyome while he was handling the case as an Attorney for the Government, and others,’ he revealed.
Mr Amidu underscored, ‘I had suggested that Mrs Betty Mould-Iddrisu should be persuaded to be a prosecution witness in lieu of prosecution. The Government disagreed, so I was removed from office. But Woyome did not walk into the Bank of Ghana with an AK 47 or a Bazooka to take the over GH¢51 million from the Government of Ghana.’
He was of the firm conviction that ‘Mrs Brew Appiah-Opong had all the opportunity to have done the proper professional thing upon becoming the Attorney-General and assuming the prosecution of the case, in spite of her past association with Austro-Invest at Lithur, Brew and Co. But she failed woefully in this regard as the evidence before the nation in this matter today demonstrates.’
The Citizen Vigilante therefore wondered why Ghanaians would ‘be faulted in speculating that the relationship between Lithur, Brew and Co as lawyers for President John Dramani Mahama, and Austro-Invest represented by Ray Smith, together with the NDC government’s interest in protecting itself and the powerful persons with the insurance of being card bearing NDC supporters involved in this gargantuan scam, is the fundamental reason for the unprofessional manner the criminal and constitutional matter in this scam have been and are still being handled by the Government?’
For him, ‘The substance of the displeasure of former President Rawlings with the manner the NDC and the Government have handled this matter cannot, in my view, be faulted’ and that he finds it impossible not to link Austro-Invest, the main accomplice in the over GH¢51 million scam, with the kid gloves with which Ray Smith has been treated and protected by the Attorney-General and the unprofessional manner in which Woyome alone had been prosecuted in the criminal matter with the role of Lithur, Brew and Co as lawyers for Austro-Invest.
Mr Amidu’s comments seem to have ruffled the A-G to warrant a rebuttal in which she denied she omitted the Supreme Court declarations that affected Austro-Invest and the then Attorney General, Betty Mould-Iddrisu, whose conduct in facilitating the payment of the over GH¢51 million to Woyome was also declared unconstitutional when she filed the entry of judgment in the case.
‘I deny his allegations. In any case, we are working with Chief State Attorneys on this case. I’m not working on it alone,’ she claimed in a response to Mr Amidu’s statement. She posited, ‘On that day, Woyome’s lawyers went to the court to withdraw the application but I understand Martin Amidu was there to insist it should be struck out,’ she said, wondering, ‘How do we serve an entry of judgment on an entity which he says had been dissolved and which by his own statement, its name had been struck out from?’
Describing it as diversionary tactics, she said, ‘I will not be moved by diversionary tactics from any quarter.’
By Charles Takyi-Boadu
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