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17.10.2002 General News

I made political payment — Witness

By Graphic
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THE former Managing Director of the Ghana Rubber Estates Limited (GREL), Mr Etienne Marie-Arthur Popeler, told the Fast Track High Court yesterday that Societe Industrielle Plantation Herea, the France-based majority shareholders of GREL, instructed him to make certain political payments in its bid to acquire the company.

He was testifying under cross-examination in the case in which Hanny Sherry Ayittey, treasurer of the 31st December Women’s Movement, and three others are standing trial on various charges of corruption in connection with the divestiture of GREL.

The other accused persons are Emmanuel Amuzu Agbodo, a former Executive Secretary to the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC), Ralph Casely-Hayford, a businessman and Sati Dorcas Ocran, a housewife.

They have all pleaded not guilty to the charges and the court, presided over by Mr Justice J. C. Amonoo-Monney, an Appeal Court judge sitting as an additional High Court judge has granted each of them self recognisance bail. Mr Popeler told the court that although he gave ¢25 million to a Dr Banafo in August 1996 to be given to Agbodo to influence the decision of the DIC on the divestiture of GREL, he could not positively say that the money was given to him.

This, he said, was because he was not present when Dr Banafo reportedly handed over the money to Agbodo.

Mr Popeler, who was not very audible in his testimony, said he gave the list of all beneficiaries of the monies to the police when he was first arrested on April 13, 2001.

He told the court that he was arrested as a result of representations made to the police by Mr Kwame Awuah Asante, former Commercial Controller of GREL, who knew about the payments.

Witness said he was detained at the Police Headquarters for eleven days during which he gave several statement relating to the case to police investigators. Asked whether Dr Banafo was also arrested, Mr Popeler replied in the affirmative but added that they were not detained together. The case has been adjourned to tomorrow (Friday).

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