22.12.2004 Crime & Punishment

I didn't play any role in GREL's divestiture-Ayittey

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Accra, Dec 22, GNA - Hanny Sherry Ayittey, treasurer of the 31st December Women's Movement (DWM) who is standing trial in the Ghana Rubber Estates Limited (GREL) divestiture case with two others, on Wednesday denied ever playing any role in the privatisation of the company.

She told the court that as a co-opted member of the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) she did not perform any function in respect of GREL's divestiture.

Ayittey made these denials when she continued her evidence-in-chief at the Accra Fast Track Court hearing the case. She is being tried on corruption charges jointly with Emmanuel Amuzu Agbodo, former executive secretary of the DIC and Ralph Casely-Hayford, a businessman.

The three are alleged to have used their positions to influence the DIC Board to divest GREL in favour of a French company called Societe Industrielle Plantation Hevea (SIPH).

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

Mr David Lamptey is defending Ayittey, while Agbodo and Casely-Hayford have Mr John-Hanson Senoo and Mr Rodney Heward-Mills as their counsel respectively.

Continuing with her evidence, Ayittey told the court that in the whole of 1998, she never remembered the time any issue in connection with the privatisation of GREL came up for discussion at DIC meetings. Ayittey wondered why Dr Albert Owusu-Banarfo, a prosecution witness in the case could have said in his evidence that during the month of May 1998, the DIC board held meetings to discuss the divestiture issue. She told the court that during the period in question, she was out of the country on a visit to the United States, and that if such meetings took place at all, she could not have participated in them. In an answer to a question by counsel that Dr. Owusu-Banarfo alleged that in May 1998 he alone delivered an amount of 120,000 dollars to Ayittey, she denied ever having taken any money from Dr. Owusu-Banarfo to allegedly influence the divestiture of GREL. To buttress his client's point, counsel tendered in evidence her passport and photocopies of some pages of the document to show the court that during the period in question, Ayittey had travelled outside the country, and could therefore not have either participated in DIC meetings, or taken monies from Dr Owusu-Banarfo.

In response to another question by counsel, Ayittey denied that the 31st DWM neither took any decision at an executive nor council meeting, during which three conditions spelled out by Dr Owusu-Banarfo, were to be fulfilled by the movement in connection with the divestiture process. Further hearing of the case has been adjourned to Tuesday, January 11, 2005.

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