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01.11.2004 Crime & Punishment

Abodakpi, Selormey challenge Fast Track High Court

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Accra, Nov. 1, GNA - Two former Ministers have challenged the decision of an Accra Fast Track High Court which ordered them to open their defence in an alleged financial malfeasance case.
Daniel Abodakpi ex-minister of Trade and Industry and Victor Selormey, a deputy Finance Minister, 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. On October 18, this year, the court, presided over by Mr. Stephen T. Farkye, an Appeal Court Judge, who was also sitting as an additional High Court judge after listening to arguments of defence and prosecution ruled that accused persons had a case to answer and ordered them to open their defence.
At the Fast Track High Court Monday, Mr Charles Hayibor, Counsel for Abodakpi told the court that he has filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal and November 8, has been fixed for hearing of the matter.
According to Mr. Hayibor, he has also filed a motion of notice of stay of execution pending appeal at the Fast Track High Court.
The court, therefore, adjourned that matter to November 8.
On the grounds of appeal filed at the Court of Appeal, Mr. Hayibor argued that the trial judge erred in law when he glossed over the numerous, obvious and material conflicts and contradictions in the prosecution's case and only dwelt on what he considered as immaterial conflicts in the various loan amounts as stated by prosecution. Counsel contended that the trial judge erred when he ruled without any evidence that letters written by Selormey to ECOBANK were copied to Abodakpi, therefore he ought to have had knowledge of the letter, and hence he had a case to answer.
Counsel argued that the ruling was unreasonable, having regard to the evidence adduced by prosecution itself and his submissions.
According to counsel, the trial judge further erred in law when he ruled that the statement contained in the audit report, was sufficient for his client to be called on to open his defence.
"The trial judge erred in law when he ruled that notwithstanding the admission by the auditor that throughout the course of the trial herein, he never spoke to the accused who was the subject matter of the audit, there was no breach of the audit alteram partem rule of natural justice."
Mr. Kwablah Senanu Counsel for Selormey prayed the court of appeal to reverse the ruling of the court and the submission of no case canvassed on behalf of his client should be upheld by the Court of Appeal. 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 ECOBANK (Ghana) Limited. The transfers of money were authorized by Selormey, and was to be used as fees for feasibility studies towards the establishment of Science and Technology 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 that 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.
What was purported to be a contract was signed by both Abodakpi and the consultant 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 400,000 US dollars when the University was not a party to the contract.

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