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02.12.2004 General News

Okaiteye introduced Banarfo to me- Ayittey

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Accra, Dec. 2, GNA- Hanny Sherry Ayittey, Treasurer of the 31st December Women's Movement (DWM) standing trial with two others in the Ghana Rubber Estates Limited (GREL) divestiture case, on Thursday told an Accra Fast Track Court that it was Madam Georgina Okaiteye who introduced Dr Albert Owusu Banarfo to her.

The introduction, she said, took place at the offices of the Movement in February-March 1995. Madam Okaiteye is the eighth prosecution witness in the case.

Ayittey said this when she continued her evidence-in-chief in the case in which she and Emmanuel Amuzu Agbodo, former Executive Secretary of the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) and Ralph Casely-Hayford, businessman, are being tried for their alleged involvement in corruption during the privatisation of GREL. They were alleged to have used their positions to influence the DIC Board to ensure that a French company, Societ=E9 Industrielle Plantation Hevea (SIPH), won the bid for GREL.

They have all denied the various charges against them, and the trial judge, Mr Justice J. C. Amonoo-Monney, Appeal Court Judge with additional responsibility for the case as a High Court Judge, has admitted each of them to a self-recognisance bail. Mr David Lamptey is counsel for Ayittey, while Mr John-Hanson Senoo and Mr Rodney Heward-Mills are defending Agbodo and Casely-Hayford respectively.

Ayittey told the court that on the day when Madam Okaiteye, introduced Dr Banarfo, third prosecution witness, she was about to leave the offices of the Movement when she saw a Peugeot caravan heading towards the premises.

Ayittey said when the vehicle stopped Madam Okaitey alighted and headed to her direction. No sooner had Madam Okaiteye alighted than she saw Dr Banarfo following her.

She said when they got to her, Madam Okaiteye introduced Dr Banarfo as a consultant of SIPH, and said he and other officials of the company wanted to meet the National President of the DWM for some discussions. Ayittey said she asked them to write officially, and the following day, Madam Okaiteye brought the letter, which was handed over to the Administrator of the Movement.

She said when the day for the meeting between SIPH officials and the movement was fixed, its National President and former First Lady, could not attend because she had another appointment elsewhere. Ayittey said the meeting was held at the General Secretary's office, where she introduced the Project Officers of the movement to the SIPH officials.

She told the court that after the introduction, she gave documents on the projects and constitution of the Movement to their guests, and later briefed them on the movement's activities.

Ayittey said Dr Banarfo told the meeting that SIPH was interested in the environmental projects of the DWM, especially its afforestation project, and that it was prepared to offer financial assistance and support towards it.

She told the court that one of the officials whose name she could not remember, said when they were coming from Paris, their board of directors approved some donations for the Movement.

Ayittey said after she had received the donation on behalf of the Movement, and the SIPH officials had left, Madam Okaiteye who was in their company, came back to inform her that the envelope contained a cheque for 20,000 dollars in support of DWM's activities.

She told the court that she handed over the cheque to the Movement's accountant and asked him to pay the money into its accounts. Asked by counsel whether she gave Dr Banarfo three conditions for SIPH to fulfil, Ayittey replied in the negative, and said it was not correct for Dr Banarfo to say in his evidence before the court that she gave the company those conditions in 1994.

She explained that during the last quarter of 1994 she was out of the country with the former First Lady on a trip to the United States, and therefore, it was not correct for Dr Banarfo to have stated in his evidence on May 19, 2001, that during a meeting in 1994, she gave him three conditions for SIPH to fulfil.

Further hearing of the case has been adjourned to Wednesday, December 8, for Ayittey to continue with her evidence-in-chief. 2 Dec 04

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