FIVE OUT of the seven charges levelled against Stephen Asamoah Boateng aka Asabee, former Minister of Information and National Orientation, for allegedly breaching the Procurement Act, have been dropped by the state.
Asabee's new charges were announced by Anthony Gyanbiby, Chief State Attorney, when he substituted an earlier charge sheet which contained 14 charges against all the accused persons with a new one containing 16 charges.
However, the former minister, despite an increase in the number of charges, would now face only two of the counts, namely conspiracy to commit crime and contravention of provisions of Public Procurement Act, just like his wife, Zuleika Jennifer Lorwia.
Mr. Asamoah-Boateng was earlier facing charges such as conspiracy to commit crime, contravention of the provisions of the Public Procurement Act, attempt to commit a criminal offence, namely defrauding, two counts of forgery of official document, and possession of forged document.
Asabee is standing trial with Zuleika Jennifer Lorwia; Frank Agyekum, his former Deputy at the Information Ministry; Kofi Asamoah Boateng, Former Director of Finance and Administration; Dominic Yaw Sampong, acting Chief Director; Kwabena Denkyira, Deputy Director of Finance and Administration; Yasmine Domua, Manageress; Prosper Aku of Supreme Procurement Agencies; and the company, Supreme Procurement Agencies Limited.
All the charges levelled against them still stand the same with the exception of Frank Agyekum, Asabee's deputy and Dominic Yaw Sampong, who have their charges increased with two more counts of deceit of public officer each. This new development has raised their charges to five and six respectively.
Currently, Sampong is facing six counts of conspiracy, contravention of the Procurement Act, attempt to defraud, altering document, and deceit of public officer, whilst Agyekum has been charged with conspiracy, contravention of provision, attempt to defraud and deceit of public officer.
Yasmine Domua, a manageress and a cousin of Zuleika Lorwia, who was absent at the first sitting, was charged with only conspiracy to commit crime after which she was granted a GH¢10,000 with two sureties.
Kofi Asamoah Boateng still faces six counts of forgery of official document, possession of forged document, forgery and possession of false document, while Denkyira also faces only a charge of conspiracy.
Prosper Aku has also been charged with four counts of possessing and forgery of document of architects, engineering certificate and false tender document.
Yesterday's hearing was for the prosecution to start their case but because of the new development, counsel for the accused persons, namely Nene Amegatcher, Egbert Faibile, G.K.A Babanawo and Daniel Asare Minta, prayed the court to adjourn the matter so they could confer with their clients to prepare adequately for the trial since they were not aware there was going to be any substitution of charges.
They subsequently advised the prosecution not to return on the adjourned date with a fourth charge sheet.
The Fast Track High Court, presided over by Justice Charles Quist, upheld the submissions of the counsel and adjourned the matter to September 8, 2009, ordering the prosecution to prepare their witnesses for the next date.
All the accused persons have pleaded not guilty and have been granted GH¢10,000 bail with two sureties each.
Facts in court state that somewhere in May 2008, Asabee was appointed Minister of Information and that on assumption of office, he brought along Kofi Asamoah Boateng, a retired civil servant who was on contract at the Ministry of Tourism and made him the Director of Finance and Administration at the ministry over Mr. Denkyira who became his deputy.
During a management meeting, Asabee allegedly discussed with the senior officials of the ministry the need to suspend all investment activity already budgeted for the year 2008 in order to re-direct those funds for renovation works on the ministerial block.
The renovation which included tiling of the office instead of the use of carpet was allegedly Asabee's decision to leave a legacy at the ministry and so for the commencement of the project, he brought Zuleika, his wife, who allegedly knew nothing about the project, as the contractor to take charge of the work. According to the facts, the accused persons conspired and by the role they played, did not follow due processes in obtaining the contract amounting to GH¢86, 915.85.
By Mary Anane, Jessica Amponsah