25.06.2006 General News

Tsikata's counsel continues address

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Major Rowland S. Agbenato (rtd), one of the lawyers representing Tsatsu Tsikata, a former Chief Executive of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), on Thursday told an Accra Fast Track Court (FTC) that his client was neither Chairman of the Board nor Acting Chief Executive of the Corporation in 1987.

Counsel said during cross-examination his client made it clear that there was no question of his having sent Mr J. W. Wilson, Managing Director of Valley Farms, to Merchant Bank in 1987 as claimed by Mr Jude Arthur, a prosecution witness or, "indeed, at any other time".

Major Agbenato, who was addressing the Court on behalf of his client to close their case, was emphatic that the accused heard of Valley Farms from Mr Arthur.

Tsikata is charged with three counts of wilfully causing financial loss of about 2.3 billion cedis to the State through a loan he guaranteed for Valley Farms, a private concern, on behalf of the GNPC.

The accused is also charged with misapplying public property.

The trial judge, Mrs Justice Henrietta Abban, an Appeal Court Judge with additional responsibility as a High Court Judge, has admitted him to a self-recognizance bail after he had pleaded not guilty.

Major Agbenato said his client stated in his evidence that he was appointed Chairman of GNPC in 1988, and also became Acting Chief Executive in October of that year.

Counsel said in that evidence Tsikata outlined one of his preoccupations as Acting Chief Executive and financing crude oil imports.

"This also preoccupied the Board of the Corporation as he (Tsikata) showed from various passages in the minutes of the Board of Directors, which was tendered by the Prosecution."

Major Agbenato said previous arrangements, involving the Bank of Ghana, had problems, which led the Board to decide on having commercial banking arrangements in preference to the existing arrangements.

He said the Merchant Bank was one of the commercial banks with which discussions were held, culminating in the Board of GNPC authorising the establishment of a relationship with that Bank in August 1998.

He said the accused heard about Valley Farms from Mr Arthur.

Counsel stated that the investment opportunity was proposed by Merchant Bank through Mr Arthur at a time when the Bank was providing GNPC a package of corporate finance advisory services, investment advisory and management services, which was put in writing to GNPC.

Major Agbenato said his client also testified about the fact that in addition to the GNPC Board of Directors having given a mandate for the account with Merchant Bank, the Board also had on its Agenda for the 58th Board meeting the issue of the investment in Valley Farms.

"As there was a long list of Agenda items the Board selected certain matters that required discussion and listed them. Others such as Valley Farms item, which the Board considered and did not require discussion, were approved without discussion.

"It is our submission that the evidence of the accused was truthful in all respects and is supported by the documentary evidence, some of which he referred to in his evidence," he said.

The court adjourned proceedings to Friday for continuation of addresses.

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