Gloria Akufo and Alfred Woyome
It has been confirmed that embattled National Democratic Congress (NDC) financier Alfred Agbesi Woyome has filed a suit against the Government of Ghana at the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce Secretariat over the much-touted GH¢51.2 million he dubiously took from the state.
He wants the court to stop the government from asking him to pay back the money which the Supreme Court said he took illegally from the state.
The secretariat of the international court, in a letter of March 21, 2017 with reference JRF-CJ, acknowledged receipt of Mr Woyome’s application for arbitration.
The international body said it received the documents on March 20.
He had filed the application on March 17, and the letter signed by Jose Ricardo Feris, Deputy Secretary General of the ICC International Court of Arbitration, said “Pursuant to Article 4(2) of the ICC Rules of Arbitration in force as from 1 March 2017 (Rules), this arbitration commenced on that date.”
The case has the title, ‘Alfred Agbesi Woyome (Ghana) vs/ Republic of Ghana (Ghana)’ with case reference 22679/TO.
Mr Woyome has been asked to include the accurate caption and reference in all future correspondences.
On filing fee, the secretariat said, “We have received a cheque for the non-refundable filing fee from Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, who are representing Mr Woyome and was asked to confirm within five days from the day following receipt of this correspondence.”
“Please be informed that should the confirmation not be considered as satisfactory by the bank pursuant to its legal obligations under french law, the payment received by ICC may be canceled and the lack of relevant information reported to the relevant authorities.”
The letter said that “we have received an electronic version of the request and of the documents annexed thereto,” adding that “we note that four hard copies of the request and of the documents annexed thereto were sent to the secretariat by courier.”
The letter cited Mr Woyome’s case management team as Tunde Ogunseitan (counsel), Anne de Mazieres and Rikee Kjeldsen, (all deputy counsel), as well as Ms Ingrid Materner and Clement Radosch as assistants.
“Your case management team will write to you concerning the notification of the request and other relevant information.”
A source at the office of the Solicitor General in the Attorney General’s Department has confirmed that the government is aware of Mr Woyome’s action but was not certain if the processes had been officially served on the AG.
He indicated that the AG will not waste time in filing a response if the processes are served on the government.
Before the crucial general elections, which the then ruling NDC lost massively to opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), the Mahama-led government made Ghanaians to believe that Mr Woyome had started paying back the GH¢51.2 million in installments.
Mr Woyome himself at a news conference told Ghanaians that he had started making payments in installments which was authorised by then Attorney General Betty Mould Iddrisu and her deputy Ebo Barton-Odro against the directive of former President John Evans Atta Mills.
In November 2016 in the heat of the election campaign, Mr Woyome announced that he had refunded GH¢4 million to the state, adding that it represented part payment of the GH¢51.2 million he owed.
Woyome said his lawyers promised to pay the outstanding balance by quarterly installments of GH¢5 million, commencing April 1, 2017.
Former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, as a result, filed an application at the Supreme Court to discontinue the request for oral examination of Mr Woyome at the instance of former AG Martin ABK Amidu, who had been pursuing the embattled NDC financier to pay back the money.
A letter dated November 7, 2016 and signed by a Chief State Attorney, Mrs Dorothy Afriyie-Ansah, acknowledged receipt of a cheque for GH¢4 million from Mr Woyome and the receipt was witnessed by the Solicitor-General, Mrs Helen Ziwu.
On April 6, 2016, then Attorney-General initiated garnishee proceedings against the managers of the ADB, uniBank (Ghana) Limited and UT Bank, bankers of Mr Woyome.
According to the former AG, the garnishee had yielded the following amounts – GH¢966.58, GH¢29,515.95, GH¢1,008.70, US$98.17, US$32,779.68, US$223.08 and €1,226.72 – which have since been paid into the bank account of the Attorney-General’s Office at the Bank of Ghana (BoG).
Mr Woyome was being pursued vigorously by former Attorney General Martin ABK Amidu, known for his anti-corruption exploits, when it became clear that the NDC government was not willing to take the money from Mr Woyome.
Mr Amidu, popularly called Citizen Vigilante, had secured judgement at the Supreme Court that the huge amount of money paid to Mr Woyome by the NDC government was illegally done.
It was when the NDC lost the election to the NPP that Mr Amidu announced in court that he was withdrawing his case against Mr Woyome to allow the government to retrieve the money.
By William Yaw Owusu