It has emerged that the document submitted by Philip Akpeena Assibit, CEO of Goodwill International Group (GIG), who is standing trial for his role in the infamous GYEEDA scandal, was a plagiarized youth policy document from Serbia, Europe, for which he managed to claim $2 million from the government.
The court also heard how Assibit requested for payment for preparing the Youth Employment Strategy and Action Plan (the copied Serbian document) because he claimed he had helped the government to secure $65 million facility from the World Bank when according to the prosecution, the claim was false.
Assibit was subsequently paid the amount in 2011 even before the finance minister wrote in 2012 to the World Bank requesting for funds towards the preparation of a proposal to access the very $65 million facility the accused said he had helped to secure in 2011.
Mrs Diana Adu Anane, an investigator at the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) disclosed this at an Accra financial court yesterday where Assibit is being tried alongside Abuga Pele, former National Coordinator of the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), now GYEEDA.
Led in evidence by Mrs. Evelyn Keelson, a chief state attorney, the seventh prosecution witness (PW7) told the court that Abuga Pele, who is also National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Chiana Paga, even wrote a memo advising the Ministry of Youth and Sports to pay Assibit’s GIG because the 3% requested was ‘moderate’ since Assibit had earlier requested for 15%.
She told the packed court, presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare Botwe, that Assibit’s letter requesting for claims was grounded on three main areas.
‘In the first claim he said he launched an effective Exit Strategy for GYEEDA Modules. In the second claim, he said he recruited 250 youth for training and in the third, he said he secured a World Bank facility for GYEEDA,’ the investigator said.
She told the court that EOCO investigations revealed that Assibit did not design Exit Strategies for any GYEEDA Modules as claimed, and said when the programmes started in 2006 on the advice of the National Security, it already had its own strategies to exit the beneficiaries.
She said the Modules were further strengthened in 2009 when all service providers were instructed to have exit strategies before being given contracts saying, ‘It is strange Philip Assibit will claim to be the originator of Exit Strategies for all Modules.’
She said when the accused was questioned on the strategies, he told investigators that he (Assibit) verbally advised the NYEP Coordinator (Abuga Pele) on the exit strategies, ‘on the oil and gas training he did not design any Exit Strategies.’
The witness said that all the service providers denied that Assibit helped them to prepare their Exit Strategies and said some of them even said they did not know Assibit.
Mrs. Adu Anane told the court that Assibit had written to claim payment for recruiting 250 youth for training for the Youth Enterprise Programme (YEP) and said even though some work was done, Assibit was subsequently paid for his services.
She said a payment voucher of GH¢59,976 was raised for the exercise and Assibit pocketed GH¢51,000 on February 27, 2011 as managing consultant and the cash was handed to him by Mohammed Pelpuo, who had already testified in the case saying, ‘He signed and received as per diem.’
She said that even though the claim that Management Development and Productivity Institute (MDPI) was involved in the recruitment could not be true because the MDPI did not sanction their participation, ‘this claim had already been paid for.’
World Bank Facility
The witness said that it was false for Assibit to claim to be the originator of the World Bank facility proposal because when they (accused and others) visited then Vice President John Mahama, he told them about the existence of the facility.
‘Philip Assibit gave us a document with the title: ‘Youth Employment Strategy Action Plan’ to justify the work he supposedly did with the assistance of MDPI to access the World Bank facility.’
She said they realized that the document had the names of Assibit, Abuga Pele and then Minister Clement Humado, but were not signed and when pressed further, Abuga Pele said it was Assibit who prepared the document.
However, witness said Mr. Humado and the MDPI all denied knowledge of the document and when they did internet search they found that Assibit had copied a Serbian youth policy document verbatim and replaced every portion where there is the word ‘Serbia’ with ‘Ghana’ and presented as the proposal document to secure payment.
She said, ‘As at April 13, 2011 when he was claiming to have secured the facility, Ghana was then in 2012 writing to ask for funds to start the preparatory works for the same facility.’
She said on EOCO’s request, the World Bank even wrote on January 7, 2014 that Ghana was at the early preparatory stage to access the facility.
GIG (MDPI Project) Account
She said the first installment of GH¢826 was paid into GIG (MDPI Project) account at Zenith Bank while the remaining four installments were paid into GIG (MDPI Project) account at UT Bank, ‘though the account name was GIG (MDPI Project), MDPI had nothing to do with the money.’
She said the signatories to the Zenith Bank account were Assibit, one Lawrence Nsiah and one Isaac while for the UT Bank account, Assibit, the same Lawrence Nsiah and one Daudawere were the signatories, and added that investigations showed that Assibit just used the other signatories to open the accounts.
‘We found out that the over $2 million went for the benefit of Assibit,’ witness told the court.
The court also admitted in evidence the controversial document – ‘Terms of work’ – which the investigator said was supposed to be the working document of the MoU signed between NYEP and Assibit’s GIG.
Sitting continues on April 14, 2014 for Mrs Adu Anane to be cross-examined.
By William Yaw Owusu
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