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10.11.2004 Crime & Punishment

Ayittey didn't contact me to seek favours for SIPH - Agbodo

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Accra, Nov. 10, GNA - An Accra Fast Track Court hearing the Ghana Rubber Estates Limited (GREL) divestiture case, was on Wednesday told that favours were not sought on behalf of Societe Industrielle Plantation Hevea (SIPH), the French company that won the bid for the divestiture.

Giving evidence at the court under cross-examination, Emmanuel Amuzu Agbodo, former Executive Secretary of the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC), and one of the three accused persons said during his tenure of office, Hanny Sherry Ayittey, treasurer of the 31st December Women's Movement did not approach him to seek any favours on behalf of SIPH.

Agbodo, Ayittey and Ralph Casely-Hayford, a businessman, are being tried for their alleged involvement in corruption when GREL's divestiture programme was going on in 1996.

They have all denied their various charges, and the trial judge, Mr Justice J C Amonoo-Monney, Appeal Court Judge, with an additional responsibility on the case as a High Court Judge, has admitted each of them to a self-recognisance bail.

Mr David Lamptey is counsel for Ayittey, whilst Mr John-Hanson Senoo and Mr Rodney Heward-Mills are defending Agbodo and Casely-Hayford respectively.

Agbodo told the court that after the privatisation of GREL, there was the Share Sale and Purchase Agreement concluded and executed between DIC and SIPH on May 12, 1997.

Asked by counsel where the original copies of that document whose photocopy he tended in evidence could be traced, Agbodo said both SIPH and DIC possessed them.

Agbodo examined the document, after which he told the court that he initialled all its nine pages, adding that there was also a Shareholders' Agreement.

Asked who the parties to that agreement were, the former DIC Executive Secretary said, its three signatories were SIPH, GREL and the Government.

Agbodo told the court that even though his outfit, that is, DIC was not a signatory to the agreement, the original copy could be found there.

Asked by counsel whether DIC had anything to do with GREL's divestiture programme, Agbodo said certain parts of the programme was handled by an Evaluation Team put in place by his outfit.

Quizzed by counsel as to who constituted the DIC membership and its co-opted membership in 1998, Agbodo said he could not tell off-hand who those members were.

This response prompted the trial judge to advise counsel to take steps to secure documents in connection with DIC's membership. Consequently, proceedings were adjourned to Tuesday, November 16 for further cross-examination of Agbodo.

At Wednesday's sitting, Ayittey, who had been absent for some time now because of ill health was present in court.

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