18.10.2004 Crime & Punishment

Abodakpi, Selormey ordered to open their defence

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Accra, Oct. 18, GNA - An Accra Fast Track High Court on Monday rejected a submission of no case filed on behalf of Daniel Abodakpi and Victor Selormey, two former Ministers of State involved in an alleged financial malfeasance.
The court presided over by Mr Stephen T. Farkye, an Appeal Court Judge who was also sitting as an additional High Court judge has therefore ordered them to open their defence.
Abodakpi, ex-minister for Trade and Industry and Selormey, Deputy Minister for Finance are being tried on seven counts of conspiracy to commit crime, defrauding by false pretences and wilfully causing a total loss of 2.73 billion cedis to the State.
They have denied all the charges and are currently on self-recognisance bail in the sum of three billion cedis each. Counsel for the two former Ministers have, however, announced their intention to appeal against the court's ruling.
They further prayed the court to give them two weeks to get the necessary documents to go on with their appeal.
The Court obliged and adjourned the matter to November 1. The court in its ruling said the prosecution had been able to prove the charges levelled against the accused, noting that the prosecution had been able to provide a cogent evidence after calling 10 witnesses. The court dismissed defence counsel's claims that the evidence adduced by the prosecution was unreliable and discredited and it would be unsafe for any reasonable tribunal to convict them.
The Court said although the accused were not contacted during auditing of TIP Funds, the accused persons were invited by the police after findings were made, the police took their statements and they were charged for the loss of a huge expenditure.
On the charges of conspiracy, the court noted that prosecution had been able to prove it, adding that the prosecution tendered various exhibits (letters) which were written by Selormey authorizing the payment of monies in three trenches to Dr Owusu Boadu for a business transaction which was not performed.
It said the various exhibits, which authorized the payment of monies to Dr Boadu, were copied to Abodakpi.
The court said as result of Selormey's false representation, the state lost the funds.
The court noted that evidence of various transfers of monies of the accused person to Dr Boadu has not been disputed.
The court rejected defence claims that evidence put up by prosecution was made up of contradictions, adding: "The prosecution has made its case and the accused should open their defence. Between May and December 2000, the accused persons allegedly transferred 400,000 dollars into the local bank account of Dr. Fred Owusu-Boadu, a consultant, through the ECOBANK (Ghana) Limited.
The money, whose transfers were authorized by Selormey, were to be used as fees for feasibility studies towards the establishment of the Science and Technology Valley Park project. The project contract was supposed to be witnessed by the Legal Officers at the Ministry of Trade and Industry or the Attorney General's Department, but this was not done.
The transfers had no official correspondence whatsoever between Dr. Owusu-Boadu and either the Ministry of Finance or the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Both Abodakpi and the consultant signed what was purported to be a contract but there was no witness and the contract document was not initialled page by page as required.
The contract lacked the detailed information required in a feasibility study, such as market analysis, financial projections and analysis to determine the financial viability and risk analysis of the project.
There was the highly irregular use of letterheads from a Texas University, with bills amounting to 300,000 US dollars when the University was not a party to the contract.

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