General News of Tuesday, 25 July 2017
Businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome yesterday told the Supreme Court that he was not engaged in any form of business because he had sold his shares in his companies to fund his legal battles with the state.
According to him, since his arrest and subsequent prosecution after the state had paid him GH¢51.2 million in judgement debt, he had become a frequent patron of the law courts, all in an effort to protect his rights.
“I have been a businessman since I returned to the country in 1999 until the day of my infamous arrest in 2011 or so. I don’t really remember the exact year. Since that arrest and prosecution, I have not functioned again as a businessman because I have been fighting day in, day out in court. My shares in companies were traded to fund the legal fees,’’ he said.
Mr Woyome made the revelation during his much-anticipated oral examination by a Deputy Attorney-General (A-G), Mr Godfred Yeboah Dame.
The state intends to use the oral examination to know the properties and the businesses owned by Mr Woyome in order to retrieve GH¢47.2 million he owed the state after he had paid GH¢4 million in November 2016.
Mr Woyome was ordered by the Supreme Court in 2014 to repay the GH¢51.2 million judgement debt because he had no valid contract with the state
During the oral examination, the court, presided over by a single justice, Mr Justice Anthony Alfred Benin, ordered Mr Woyome to furnish the court registry with the property number of a house he (Woyome) claimed belonged to his brother before or on Friday, July 28, 2017.
Mr Justice Benin further ordered the court registrar to subpoena the head of the Lands Commission to appear before the court on October 2, 2017 for the court to ascertain the true owner of the house, located at Abelenkpe.
Mr Woyome, in answering a question on where he resided, stated that he lived in two houses, but one belonged to his brother and that it was being used as a family house.
“Your testimony that your brother owns the Abelenkpe house is false,’’ Mr Dame stated
“That is incorrect; I own the Kokomlemle house together with my family, but the Abelenkpe house is owned by my junior brother who lives in America and made it available for use by the family,’’ Mr Woyome responded.
Objections and sick break
One interesting aspect of the oral examination was a 15-minute sick break that was granted by the court for Mr Woyome to take his medication.
The oral examination lasted more than two hours, during which Mr Dame tried to prove that the embattled businessman still owned or had shares in certain companies.
That was, however, met with a series of objections by Mr Woyome’s lawyer, Mr Ken Anku.
“Mr Woyome, what kind of business do you engage in?’’ Mr Dame asked.
“I object to the question on grounds that it is not relevant,’’ Mr Anku objected.
“On grounds of relevance, the objection is overruled. The witness must answer the question,’’ Mr Justice Benin ruled.
The Deputy A-G then asked Mr Woyome the kind of business he did since he came to Ghana in 1999 and before his arrest and prosecution.
“My business has been in the sourcing of funds for projects which are mostly owned by the government. I have also been one of the directors of a company that introduced Red Bull Energy Drink into Ghana and other West African countries,’’ Mr Woyome answered.
Mr Dame shifted focus and asked the businessman the sort of business he engaged in prior to coming to Ghana in 1999.
Mr Woyome refused to answer, explaining that those businesses were not in Ghana and, therefore, not relevant.
Mr Justice Benin then informed him that he had the prerogative not to answer but, there would be dire consequences if it was later established that he, indeed, had businesses. But he refused to tell the court.
“I refuse to answer because I was involved in businesses with other states and if I reveal them, it will have diplomatic implications,’’ Mr Woyome stated.
Mr Woyome was of the view that throughout the proceedings, the A-G tried to use the oral examination to generate some dirt on him to institute criminal proceedings against him.
He described the exercise as erroneous, explaining that he had entered into an agreement with the state to pay the money.
“I have an agreement with the Attorney-General, and I have never defaulted payment as agreed until I triggered Article 40 of the 1992 Constitution which is within my rights,’’ he stated.
The oral examination will continue on October 2 and 3, 2017 due to the annual legal vacation which starts from August 1 to September 30, 2017.