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29.11.2007 General News

Counsel: Former SSNIT boss scratched pals back

By myjoyonline

A former Director General of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust, Charles Asare appeared in the docks today for cross-examination in a long-standing case involving Multimedia Broadcasting Company and MASAI Motors.

Charles Asare appeared as a second witness for MASAI Motors whose Managing Director, Edward Annan, has sued MBC for reporting a case of alleged influence peddling.

Joy News correspondent Bernard Shaibu who attended the hearing, said Charles Asare acknowledged in court that during his term in office as SSNIT Director General, there was a perception at SSNIT that his friendship with Edward Annan influenced business decisions.

But he said nothing was done about the perception. He also acknowledged that publications in The Chronicle newspaper in October 2000 presented Edward Annan to the public as a manipulator of his influential friends, including the then SSNIT boss.

MBC's counsel Charles Zwennes suggested to Charles Asare that those publications were made before the alleged broadcast, for which the MASAI boss is suing.

Charles Asare however said he was unconcerned by the publications at the time.

He further disclosed under cross-examination by MBC's counsel Charles Zwennes that it was Edward Annan who recommended him to represent a foreign offshore company on the board of City and Country Waste Limited.

In further cross-examination, Charles Asare admitted that he omitted to disclose the role Eddie Annan played in recommending him to the board of CCWL in a 2001 statement to the Serious Fraud Office.

On Wednesday, Charles Asare said under cross-examination that he was surprised to learn about Edward Annan's control of that offshore company's bank account in the UK.

Further querying probed evidence before the court that Eddie Annan had purchased and paid for vehicles and various items using money from the offshore company's account.

Mr. Asare however, denied the suggestion that he had benefited in any way from any of those funds or items.

On Wednesday, the Accra Fast Track High Court presided over by Justice Ofori Atta, heard evidence mainly on the role Mr. Asare's personal relations with businessman Eddie Annan might have influenced Mr. Annan's business dealings with SNNIT.

Charles Asare, who admitted being friends with Mr. Annan, told the court that gifts and emoluments he received while at SSNIT from Mr. Annan, had no bearing on any transaction between SNNIT and Massai Motors.

But Charles Zwennes averred that Mr. Eddie Anane influenced Mr Asare's appointment as Chairman for SITCOM, an American Financial Group.

The lawyer argued that Mr Eddie Annan, himself a signatory to the dollar account of SITCOM in the UK, withdrew $81,000 and ordered the supply of Seat and Toledo vehicles in the name of Massai motors, which he sold to SSNIT.

Mr. Zwennes told the court that move was a subtle way for the SNNIT boss at the time to show appreciation for his appointment to the board.

Mr. Charles Asare who expressed surprise at the explanation, denied the claim.

Hearing continues on Friday.